Easy as Riding A Bike

Whoever coined the phrase "Easy as Riding A Bike" must have been talking about a vintage bike with one speed, a banana seat, basket and a bell.. Friday we registered for The Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour--109 kilometers along the South African Cape--the largest individually timed cycle race in the world-the race. Pretending more than 6 years hasn't passed since our last bike ride, Curtis and I sauntered up to the registration counter to claim our race numbers: I'm in the AA Group: start time 7:47 am; Curtis is in the BB group, starting at 7:52.

After collecting our race packets, we toured the Cycling Expo where, along with thousands of other entrants, we bought bike pants, gloves, socks, energy drinks, gels & candies. (Charles made us.) Just touring the exhibits was so exhausting we had to stop for snacks...

Today, we took our bikes for a test spin….in my case a wobble. I tried to ride my bike out of the B&B courtyard, swerved, freaked and ran into a drain pipe. “Walk it out,” Curtis called. As if I hadn’t figured it out.

Riding a strange bike is hard enough…after so many years, I’d forgotten how to switch gears (not that I have ever been very good at it.) Do I push in the little lever on the left to switch to the big wheels? Or the big lever on the left? Is left back and right front gear—or the other way around? And which lever controls which break?

The hand signals are easy enough to remember (nice to know some lessons stick.) But one thing I didn’t reckon on is the roads. In the midst of all that shifting and gearing and signaling and turning, I have to keep to the right side of the road—which in South Africa is actually the left side…I think?

Our test drive was 4.52 kilometers long and lasted 27 minutes—which gave me an average speed of 10.3 kilometers an hour. Considering the Argus is 109 kilometers long, if all goes well, I can expect to finish in…about 10 hours. They start scooping people up and ferrying them in support vans after 7 hours…I’d better do something to improve.

Less than 12 hours to start time and I am as ready for the race as I’ll ever be…