Dirty secret: most triathletes play favorites. With sports, at least. For me, far and away, biking is my favorite.
I have always been tall, and therefore large, for my age, which meant I was clumsy and awkward well into my twenties (thankful to have finally outgrown that stage, thankyouverymuch), and it just seemed like physically? Many things were a struggle.
“Summer’s almost over, honey, are you sure you don’t want to try your bike again?” My dad asked confused. I shook my hanging head and disappeared around the corner. My second-grade classmates were incredulous I couldn’t ride a bike; what kind of baby was I? But when the training wheels bend under your weight, it’s really hard to stay balanced. One summer, I got so disgusted with the whole process, I tossed my bike into the garage around July and didn’t look at it again until the following spring. I had begged my parents for that bike; they couldn’t understand what was going on.
Eventually, slowly, I learned how to ride my bike; and once I did, I rode it everywhere. My parents shared a car until I was in double-digits, and my mom kept me in activities all summer long. One summer when I was about 8, we rode our bikes over 6 miles each way to the local high school for a one-hour gymnastics class, and then we biked home. Sometimes we headed to the YMCA near our house for additional swim lessons. It’s a trek that boggles my mind now, that my little body could handle it. But I didn’t know anything else.
Little did I know how much that early training would inform my life now. To this day, my husband and I share a car with no plans to buy a second one. My favorite summer days are when I’m behind my handlebars: work. library. brewery. friends. home.
However, biking is not without its challenges. I find that when I’m on my bike, I have to think like a car, and a pedestrian, as well as a bicyclist. I have to anticipate what moves others will make so that I can keep myself safe. I have been almost hit (while biking in the bike lane)(with a high-viz vest on)(in broad daylight) more times than I can count. And I confess it makes me angry, particularly in the moment.
But by in large, the freedom and joy I get on my bicycle far outweighs any set-backs. Wind in my hair, and sun on my face, life is pretty close to perfect on a bicycle seat.