Every cyclist remembers their first time. For me it was in the parking lot of a busy restaurant on Sunday right after church. The moment is branded into my memory as much as anything else I can remember. It was a spandex nightmare!
I had recently advanced to a new level of cycling; a new Fuji road bike and CLIP IN CLEATS. My riding buddy and I arranged to have lunch with an old friend at the Mexican restaurant near the Silver Comet Trail in Rockmart. Our forty-mile ride from Smyrna would be timed so we would arrive at the restaurant a few minutes before noon, thinking most churchgoers would take an extra ten or fifteen minutes to arrive, allowing us to get in and be seated before the rush.
As we breezed through Cobb County, I was beginning to get the hang of twisting my ankles to release my feet as we approached each intersection and snapping back into the cleats as I accelerated away. I was now a member of the elite spandex crowd with a new bike, a brightly colored bike outfit, and shiny, clip in shoes!
I did my signature “whoop whoop” as we passed through the Brushy Mountain Tunnel and broke into the Polk County sunlight on the western end. The air was fresh, the sky was clear, and I was feeling pretty good about myself. This was going to be one of my best rides ever, I could just tell.
I must set the stage for the events that followed. Going to church in the country is bit different than visiting one of the more “liberal” city churches. Everyone still dresses up and attends as a family unit; all the way from grandma to toddlers. The fact that we were about to crash the after church lunch party clad in shimmering spandex would have been enough to solicit stares and comments. What I was about to do would likely be talked about for weeks.
Keep in mind it had been forty-five minutes and twenty miles since my last clipout- clipin episode. As we exited the trail and headed toward the restaurant parking lot, I could see carloads of smartly dressed families exiting their cars and meandering across the asphalt on the way to eat. We spotted our friend in the crowd and complimented ourselves on arriving right on time.
As we wheeled into the lot, I tried hard to look cool as I waved at our friend, look for a place to park, and check out the crowd. Right in the center of church-goers universe, I rolled to a stop and crashed to the asphalt still clipped into my pedals. My embarrassing moment was just beginning. I soon realized that twisting my ankle to escape while pinned under a bike on the asphalt was not an easy task.
While scores of well coffured women and suited children circled around me, I continued my quest to free my lower foot from the Fuji and resume my arrival. I finally righted myself, brushed off the grit, and tried to act as though my bleeding knee and pride were unscathed.
And yes, the colorful spandex clad guy covered in dust with a bleeding knee stayed and ate lunch with the after-church gang without further incident. In fact, a couple of them even came over to our table to make sure I was all right. Country folks are sweeter than city folks I think.
Just remember, when the guy at the bike shop tells you, “everybody forgets to clip out at least once”, he’s probably right.
At least I did it in grand style. Don’t just fall in the woods when no one is around. Go ahead and make it a memorable occasion. Isn’t that what life’s all about?