The below happened and was written a few years ago...2006, I think?
Anyone who has been out of shape eventually gets the wake-up call that they're no longer a spring chicken. My "holy crap!" moment came when my pal Russ invited me to tag along for a "critical mass" bike ride near downtown San Antonio, Texas.
That evening, I headed over to Russ's house around 6. He'd said they do this ride every Thursday, so I believed and trusted him completely on every little detail of what I should expect, including "it's an easy ride," "it won't be very hot since it's in the evening," and "I think there's one small hill, but it's easy."
So we go downtown, I was outfitted with Russ daughter's helmet and bicycle, and I actually wore shorts in public. He suggested that I ride the bike around in the parking lot for a little while to get used to it. It was kinda scary! I hadn't ridden a normal bike (as opposed to stationary) in about 7 years.
We finally mounted up at 7:30. Russ said there were probably about 100 people riding. Shortly after starting, I realized that Russ was leaving me behind, so I tried to catch up with him. Well it was lots harder than I thought it would be! So I finally just gave up and went at my own (embarrassingly slow) pace. Kids were passing me, and I don't mean teenagers. I'm talking third graders, here.
Then we hit a hill. OhMyGod! I downshifted, and it was still hard. I didn't trust my balance enough to stand up on the pedals and use my weight, so it was pretty rough. Then we stopped for a stoplight, THANK GOD, but we stopped right next to a roadkilled possum. PEW!!
So we turned the corner when the light changed and went up the Mother of All Hills. I had to get off of the bike near the top and finish it. After the hill, we rode a bit more, then we hit ANOTHER hill. My legs were about to give out; I couldn't believe it!! My legs were worse-off than my lungs or heart. Ugh. So I walked the second half of that hill. And the bad thing is--I could barely even WALK up that hill! OhMyGod! It felt like I'd mysteriously teletransported to freaking San Francisco!
When I reached the Trinity University campus, I found that Russ had stopped to wait for me. I told Russ I wanted to throw in the towel, but he and a couple other people encouraged me, "Don't worry, that's the last hill." So I followed Russ down this strangely LOOOOOOOOONG, winding ramp which he navigated--no problemo! I tried braking, but it didn't work as well as I would've liked, so I put one foot down (witnesses later described it as "Flintstone style") and wound up CRASHING--on a handicap ramp! One would think a handicap ramp would be safe to roll down, yes?
After carefully extracting my leg from the space between the torture device disguised as a handrail and the evil bicycle, I gingerly hobbled down to a picnic area and let myself down onto a bench. There were people who had hung behind...much to my dismay. Whenever I fall or do something otherwise stupid, I instinctively look around to see if anyone saw. This time, someone definitely saw.
I guess they're really big into teamwork and safety, so a guy and a girl came over to the bench with me. Russ had stopped at the bottom to wait for me, and I told him, "Come back to pick me up in the car later. I can't go any farther!" So I sat down, and this guy asked, "Are you ok? How do you feel?" I said, "I'm tired and dizzy and I'm beginning to see spots."
Then he said, "Look directly at me." So I did, and he said, "You have heat exhaustion. Are you nauseated?" Um, it was 95 degrees in the shade, I'd spent two full minutes huffing rotten possum fumes, I'd just biked/hiked more hills than I've ever cared to traverse without the help of a motor, and I'm embarrassed beyond belief. Yes, I was nauseated! So he went away and brought back a cute, teeny-bopper female lifeguard from the pool to see the carnage and a dripping wet towel which he had me put on my neck. He told me to take off my shoes. Then he very nicely lectured me about drinking enough water and eating enough before I ride.
Anyway, they were really, really nice to me. I kept telling them I was OK, just tired, and I'd be all right if I could just sit there and not have to ride ever again!
The lifeguard (Colleen) said I could come sit with her at the pool to watch men's water polo practice and put my feet in the water 'til Russ came back with the car. (Who was I to argue?!? Sweet!) She told me that my lips were purple when she first brought out the towel for me, but after a while they turned pink again. She also cleaned up my wound from my crash--puncture wounds at the bottom of my right calf from the gear thingie poking me. It looks like it is deep enough that it will scar. Joy! Not that I wear shorts so often.
OH! And I RACKED myself on that bar that goes from the seat to the handlebars. OW! I've never been happier to be testicle-free!
The guy, girl and Russ all told me not to let the crash discourage me from coming out to the ride next week. (Fat chance!) They said to drink tons of water all day Wednesday and Thursday so I'd be hydrated in time for the ride Thursday evening. Once Russ brought the car back to the pool, he said that that guy who was asking all the questions was a cop who's also a paramedic. Hey, free emergency health care! Russ also said that if I hadn't improved quickly enough, that guy probably would've called an ambulance. Uh, yeah--that's the LAST thing I need is medical bills! They overreacted a little bit, but it was a good wakeup call for me that I am totally and completely out of shape.
© 2011 Deana Wallace