Spandex…mostly spandex!

In Eclipse on July 17, 2008 at 6:52 pm

I went for a ride on my road bike last night for the first time in about three years.  My dad pressed it on me as a birthday gift about five years ago.  I have spent the past few weeks getting it ready to hit the roads with a good friend who has been getting into the sport.  There were three of us on the ride.  Our starting point, the hilled residences of Irvine’s Turtle Rock.  I generally think it a bad thing when a hike; run; or, in this case, bike ride begins with a descent.  It leaves a looming awareness that I will have to climb this when/if I return.

Since we took about three minutes from car to riding, I did not adjust my new Bell bike helmet.  One of the loops was bulging on my cheek.  It did not matter.  I looked and felt like a space alien anyway.  Blue velcro shoes with Silver Dollar plates on the ball of my foot that clipped into my ‘Lightning’ pedals.  Those pedals are just an invitation to eat concrete for me.  A few years back, I failed to unclip at a stoplight in La Jolla.  As my bike slowed, I contorted the rear of my ankle up and away from my body, but it did not release.  The crosswalk onlookers gawked mercilessly.

No falls yesterday; even though my black Spandex shorts, white microfiber tshirt and camelback all stood out like a sunburn in Newport Beach.  My bike has white tiger-stripes, which remind me of Tom Cruise in ‘The Last Samurai’.  In one scene, he fights back the Samurai with a white tiger banner.  Like a true sage, the leader of the samurai regards the banner fighter and that begins a union between the ancient and the West.  That could be my riding name.  White Tiger…whitiger!

I’m not going to lie, I felt like quite the oddball.  I was not quite a road biker with my sail-of-a-camelback and flapping shirt.  I was somewhere between a mountain-biker and a cyclist; a bit of a barbarian to say the least.  This has been a common experience in my life.  In high school, I dressed like my dad, the doc, with long sleeve button ups.  I was one of the few with a tucked in shirt; somewhere between a doc and a teenager.  Oh the awkward pauses of identity.  True story – I was voted ‘Best Dressed’ by my senior class.

After one member of our party was forced to ‘Phone a Friend’, I settled into a conversation with Matt, an endurance athlete and English major.  Even though he suggested that English fell on him when choosing a major, I had enough enthusiasm for the both of us.  We had an engaging conversation for two, post-college guys in Spandex.  My novice approach to riding may seem half-hearted and uncreative.  Did I belong on that bike?  Well, living in the tension reminds me that I can be both insecure and painfully normal.

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