Today I did most of my procrastinating at home so when I finally made it to the beach I only stood knee deep in the water for 3 or 4 minutes before plunging in. I swam the entire length of Ala Moana and back feeling ever so slightly less weary of my surroundings. It was my final swim practice before the race this weekend.
I drove back home, made myself a snack and got on my bike to ride a 25 mile loop out to Waimanalo and back. The wind was so strong it was comical. I down shifted to increase my leg speed and moved my hands to the low part of my handlebars. Using all the techniques my coaches have given me, I stayed pretty strong up over Koko Head and Makapu’u.
Out past Sandy’s I thought about the first time I rode this far on my hybrid with the training group. How they left me in the dust and Coach P sent me home early on my own. I thought about the second time I rode out this way after I got my road bike. On my way home from a long training practice in Waimanalo I had trouble shifting my gears and my chain came off its derailleur. It was the first of many times and I didn’t know how to fix it.
I moved to the side of the road and took out my cell to call Coach J. He’d talk me through it and I’d be on my way in no time. But before the phone was even ringing another cyclist stopped and asked if I needed help. As I was turning off my phone I said, “Yes, thank you. I do.” He then turned to me and yelled with extreme impatience, “DO YOU NEED ANY HELP?!”
I calmly repeated myself. “Yes, thank you. I do. My chain came off and I don’t know how to fix it.”
[Pause. If I were to show you how to fix a chain on a bicycle you, like me, would think something along the lines of “Well that was easy! He could have talked you through it and you would have been just fine!” But no, this man gave me quite a show.]
There was eye rolling, sighing with a little grunting. There was gesturing of greasy hands in an I-hope-you-realize-what-I’ve-sacrificed-to-help-you sort of way. There were glances to his fellow riders so I clearly understood that a) he was losing time and b) he was the only angel willing to stop and help my poor pathetic soul.
Keep in mind, if you will, that I did not flag this man down, nor did I ask for his help. He stopped of his own accord and offered it.
Approximately 14 seconds later, when the chain was back on, there was lecturing about how he’d hoped I’d paid attention in case this happened to me again in the future followed by a swift dramatic wiping of his fingers in the grass.
Confused by the gruffness of this random stranger who stopped to offer help and was now scolding me as if I had ruined his entire ride, I offered little more than an “OK.”
After his hands were sufficiently cleansed he struck his final blow. He got on his bike, looked back at me and asked in the snarkiest tone he could muster, “Do you even know where you’re going?”
Yah jackass because accidentally jamming my chain has anything at all to do with my sense of direction. Never mind the fact that there’s one fucking road that goes around the perimeter of this island! I think I got it A-hole!
So I was peeved as I rode slowly through Kalama Valley, pondering why this facet of the population has such a tendency to be so impatient with newcomers, so holier than thou. But the disgruntled-ness didn’t last long. I cruised right past my savior on the way up the back side of Koko Head, miraculously managing to hold my tongue as well as my finger. Because despite my dad’s near constant insistence to the contrary, my mama taught me to be nice and now after over 30 years of living as a force to be reckoned with, I’ve finally learned how to embrace my softer side.
I had a pretty big grin on my face coasting down into Hawaii Kai though. Mama has a sarcastic bite beneath that smile. Maybe I can’t do bike maintenance on the side of a highway just yet, but I can climb the shit out of any hill you put in front of me.
If that same guy saw me today – decked out in my tri-shorts and jersey, clipless pedals, Giro cycling shoes – and the same incident occurred, I bet he’d be respectful and kind. It doesn’t make any sense to me; I’m the same exact person. But people see what they want to see and there’s nothing you can do about it.
Today I rode strong just like Coach J always says. “So strong! So strong!” I basked in the evidence of how far I’ve come then I ran two miles around my neighborhood to end the day’s work. I can’t believe the race is only four days away.
Thank you Thank you Thank you a million times over to everyone who has donated to my fundraising efforts! You are amazing life saving beautiful wonderful rock stars and I adore the living crap out of each and every one of you!