Oh the Humility! This isn’t your Mama’s Schwinn.

When it comes to learning new things, I am like a two-year-old with a “me do it myself” attitude, only with better resources. Blame it on my DNA if you must, or the fact that I was raised by a boomer to be independent. Who knows. Either way, I’m a book nerd through and through, and have spent most of my 46 years believing if I can’t find it in a book – fake it. Pulling my nose out of the books and interacting with – gasp – humans while I learn, stumble, fall, and learn some more is a HUGE growing experience. The whole everything is better in community stuff. Getting over the whole I-hate-to-look-stupid mindset is a trip and a half down a dark alley. Fortunately my close friends know this about me and love me anyway.

I’m learning a lot of things right now. All of them on purpose. Most of these new adventures do not affect my ego really. Not much anyway. I used to design ss7 switching protocol for a living, complete with electronic and geographic diversity for a major player in telecommunications. (SS7 is, or perhaps was, to telecom what the central nervous system is to the human body.) While that isn’t exactly rocket science, it isn’t easy either. I remind myself of this fact rather frequently these days while I stumble through my new adventures.

Jo is teaching me how to ride horses –– We practiced jumping this week and while I fell off Cowboy during a jump last week, I didn’t die and we were right back at it the following week. We literally raised the bar and the speed and I am having a blast. I’ve known Jo for almost ten years. Having her teach me how to ride, race, and jump does not bother me. This is my escape from the testosterone around me. Nothing against the guys, but being the lone female in a house full of men can get overwhelming sometimes and I need a break. There is a coolness factor involved here to be sure. There is no way I could simply saddle up a horse and start jumping all on my own. I needed someone to step me through it.

Ruth is teaching me how to make a quilt. I cannot presently sew to save my life. I was raised by a woman’s rights baby boomer. My never learning how to sew is no big deal. My mother wanted more for my life than to be domestic slave. I mean housewife. – I am a housewife today. This kills her. That status is changing ever so rapidly, but I digress. I’m learning how to quilt because my grandmother was a blue ribbon quilter. She cut small squares, pieced everything by hand, and even quilted by hand. That’s a strong legacy. My mother also quilts, but uses a sewing machine. My mother is dying and does not have the time left to finish all of the quilts she had in mind. Mom gave me two boxes of material when I was home last summer. I’m learning how to quilt as a way to honor both her and my grandmother. Ruth is taking our small class through every baby step imaginable. This too is fun and does not bother me.

Soccer Mom meets Hipsters and Racers – oh yeah this one bothers me a little. – Broomfield this is for you. Riding bikes with the kids on our Mom bikes is NOT the same thing as wanting to go the distance with adults. I’m just sayin. There is a learning curve so curvy that it makes Dolly Parton look like an A-Cup. 

My Bicycle evolution: (do not be fooled by the photos, owning bikes and knowing what to do with them – are not the same thing.)

An example of my Very First Bike -- I got a banana seat Schwinn for Christmas when I was 10. It was totally decked out with streamers and a flowered basket. Being the only girl on the block I raced the boys up and down hills and destroyed it in no time. But I still loved it.
I got my first and only 10 speed when I was 13. Oddly I never had to change a tire or anything major. I owned this bike until I was almost 30. My husband and I used to ride the trail systems of Chicago back in the day.
Example of the "pretty" 5-speed from Wally World. I HATED this bike. Nuff Said.
My new 18 speed Giant. My very first true road bike purchased just last fall.

I bought a new bike last fall because I wanted to get back in shape – easy peasy. It’s just a new bike, how much is there to know? Apparently a lot.  I learned this week that leaving the sporting goods store behind and going to a local bike shop is fun, exciting, and scary. Scary because I’m a soccer mom. They are well, not soccer mom’s. They are mostly grown men (save for one nice gal that helped me pick out my bike) who get to work on gears, chains, frames etc in what I will call an oversized garage – only much cooler looking. — If I could pick a dream job for my youngest son, it would be this. They also race and I hear there is beer involved at the end of the day. — Testosterone heaven, minus the pin up calendar.

For some strange reason, I find myself slightly intimidated at this point. I love this store and I really like the staff. Yet walking in with my questions, I feel like Velma from Scooby Doo walking in to a surf shop wanting a boogie board. I could swear there were moments when I could see the backs of people’s heads through their eyeballs. — My first attempt at picking out a new bike last fall met with some quiet smirks and a few giggles. It seems I picked out a rather expensive trick bike that was primarily for “hipsters.” I wanted to know what a hipster was, but decided it was one of those words that if you don’t know, don’t ask. We landed on a just my size Giant and I’m very happy with it.

Not a whole lot of humility has been required at this point. I order a bike, I pick it up. I notice the tires are thin and bald, but I don’t ask why. It doesn’t have a kick stand either but I don’t notice that until I get home. — I later learn that street bikes come that way. OH! — I try my new bike out for two months and keep falling over because of the death straps on the pedals. I get a post card in the mail reminding me the shop will tune up the bike for free after 30 days and to bring it in. They lure me with the promise of 15% off any one accessory.
I get to accessorize? OOH! I’m there.

I wasn’t feeling intimidated when I dropped off my bike for its check up, I did however feel intimidated when I had to pick it up. Dropping off was easy, the store was empty. Picking it up, the store was full — of pros. Racers et al. Some nice fellow puts my bike back on the rack because whoever worked on it forgot to remove the death grips. While talking about those little buggers that want to kill me, I did learn that they are called “toe clips.” OH! — I can hang any hope for cool points out the window. This is Walmart meets Lance Armstrong all the way. Part of me was secretly wishing for my soccer van back.

Watching him work on my bike, I am suddenly transported back to Chicago, 1987. My car is in the shop, running badly, and the mechanic is little lady this, little lady that – trying to convince me that my sweet pinto is on it’s deathbed but for $500 he can hook it up to machines and bring it back ala Frankenstein. I grab my keys, turn the motor, and the car shakes like crazy so I pop the hood. I jiggle the spark plugs, reconnect the loose wire that wasn’t loose when I dropped it off for the oil change, and viola my car is resurrected from the soon to be dead. hmm. Jerkface was trying to rip me off.

Truth is, I knew more about cars at 22 than I know about bikes at 46. I also paid more for this street bike than I did for my first three cars. I am completely at the mercy of these guys. These men who probably have other jobs, but maybe not. Who race, sweat, get covered in grime, wipe out, drink beer and live to ride another day. If you really want to know, I’m not a mercy rule kind of gal, unless I am the one dealing the mercy cards anyway.  I’m more often than not the two-year old who insists “I do it myself.” sigh.

Thankfully, none of them laughed at my questions – at least not to my face. I needed a “kit” and helmet. Having no clue what either entailed I had to rely on the guys. The kit I learned is made up of an inner tube, tire repair kit, bag that fits under the seat, some blue plastic sticks and a CO2 Cartridge. The look on the guys face when I asked what the sticks were for was priceless. Yes I’m sure I saw the back of his head through that one. He then walked over to the bike on the rack and mimed how one would use them to pry off a flat tire. That was nice of him. A real mountain biker walked in at that point and needed his expertise and so Mr Mechanic dude took over after that.

He seemed far more well, amused? Empathetic? Tolerant? Closer to my age – yes that would be it right there.  He got me a CO2 kit that was “idiot proof, no offense.” none taken I assured him, put the kit bag together, double checked everything on my bike, and helped me size my first helmet. A simple grey deal which I consider my starter helmet.

Being helped to pick out a helmet that fits by a total stranger, that kinda bugged me. Dear lord, you’d think he helped me pick out a training bra or something.  I’ve never worn a helmet in all my 46 years, there is no way I would instinctively know anything about sizing, so why it bugged me I don’t know. Must be my EGO pure and simple. It’s not like I put my first pick on backwards or anything, I just happened to pick up a kids helmet. Yep – I needed help with sizing. It only killed me a little bit. You know?

So now I have my re-tuned bike, a road kit, and a helmet. I’m ready to step up the challenge and learn to ride with a group. Maybe. That is my eventual goal I know. Can’t ride the MS150 by myself. I’m thinking I should try the trails on my own first, maybe?  That way I know them and I”m not learning group etiquette and geography all at the same time. Baby steps and all that jazz.

I know I said I was going to post miles each week, but I can’t figure out how to gauge that. Probably another toy or something. I’ll figure it out eventually that or I’ll ask someone. Just not today.

Have a great weekend you guys.



2 thoughts on “Oh the Humility! This isn’t your Mama’s Schwinn.

  1. YOU are so brave! I know what you mean about going in someplace where you do NOT know what the deal is…and I remember going in somewhere when I was 22 trying to buy some attractive cinder blocks to make…yes, a cinder-block-and-boards bookshelf. And feeling so intimidated because I had no idea whatsoever of what or who to ask for anything. And the men in the shop sure didn’t make it easy on me. I was thinking just the other day that women are treated with much more respect – because we spend money and offend one of us with “See here now, little lady…” and we’ll take our dollars elsewhere. Of course, that has no part of the “I have no idea what you’re talking about” thing. I tend to do that with my men friends who have sworn on their honor and the life of their huntin’ dawgs not to laugh at me when I say something deeply ignorant. I’ve even been known to ask rather cooly, “So, would you like to get into a discussion on constructions of masculinity in Victorian adolescent literature [subject of my Master’s thesis..] and have me giggle when you don’t know what I’m talking about? Hmmmmm?” I laughed at “I do it myself” – my late mother said my version was, “I do it I-SELF!!” Usually at a shout.

    I love what you write, Deana.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! And the bike shop is awesome. The intimidation factor is all mine. They were sweet. It’s true, women spend the money today and that has changed how we are treated. As for the car trick – I called the manager over, told him what happened and I got my oil change for free.

      The bike thing is cool, just curvy. I had no idea the mania that surrounds cycling until I went there. It’s wild.


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