I get nervous every time I start cycling again. And it had been many months since my bum was glued to the saddle. I have clipless pedals, meaning that my shoes are attached to the pedals. When I need to stop, the idea is that I jerk my left foot leftward and it detaches (from the pedal, not my leg). Once I’m stopped, I detach my right foot. If I fall, the impact sets me free so I don’t break an ankle. Sounds good.
Last Monday, I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to get my left foot off the pedal since there really wasn’t any lubrication between the metal piece on the sole of my shoe and the pedal. Being a resourceful type, I poured gobs of chain oil on the offending parts. I then snuck around to the side of the garage, got astride ta-pocketa and did a clip-and-unclip dance for several minutes. I hoped that my neighbours weren’t watching. (John and Sharon, you’re not reading this, are you?)
Appropriately chagrined with my irrational fears, I pushed my dear bike to the roadway. It was time. I had a funky cycling jersey on my back (featuring a snarly clown), padded shorts on my rear end, and a red, white and black helmet atop my noggin. My destination? South Dorchester School, where I intended to surprise unsuspecting 12-year-olds.
It was 11.9 kilometres and I was painfully gaspy. I unclipped and reclipped a dozen times before I convinced myself that I hadn’t forgotten everything I’d learned on the bike. A slight slope became a 20% Tour de France mountain. I started pooping on myself but then happily gave it a rest. My fitness is what it is. Over time, it will be what it will be, i.e. better.
My goal was to roar up to the Grade 6 portable about ten minutes before afternoon recess. I got there two minutes before the bell. A boy was opening the door, heading into the school. He stopped, gaped, and rushed back inside the classroom. “Mr. Kerr’s here and he’s on his bike!” I entered the fray and was surrounding by short people staring at my getup, especially at that nasty clown. Questions, questions, questions, and between pants the occasional answer.
I stayed through recess and for half an hour thereafter, opening myself to curious children. Then they started working on an assignment and it was time for me to go. On went my helmet, on went my jacket, and on went my fanny pack. I waved goodbye and headed outside to get foot reacquainted with bike. All attached, I heard voices behind. At least twenty kids were out on the playground, cheering my departure. Their teacher Tiffany was leaning out a window, recording it all for prosperity. Thus inspired, I cycled away, feeling like an Olympic hero.
I love volunteering.