Those of you who have known me for a while will remember that the first "adult" bike I bought was Agnes, a comfort bike. Agnes is designed for "tootling around the neighborhood." I also commute to work on Agnes sometimes. She's not fast, so when I decided last year to do a triathlon, I got Ariel, "Lion of God." She is so fast that her frame is covered with flames of flickering fire.
Every Tuesday, Ariel and I meet a group of cyclists under the supervision of Endorphin Fitness for a really fast ride. The purpose of these rides is to go so fast that your heart rate is elevated to a specified level and is maintained at that level for the duration of the workout. The workout is done in a loop that is about 1000 yards long, with the first part of the loop a series of downhills with twists and turns, followed by a steep uphill climb and then a very short flat portion. The idea is to go as fast as you can the whole way, up and down, finishing several loops, with your tongue hanging out. Many of the other cyclists are so glad at the end of the hour because they are exhausted and want to rest. I am glad because I am still alive.
Ariel loves to ride fast. Have you ever watched a three-year old at the ski slope? No fear. That is Ariel all over. She loves the Tuesday rides more than anything. But lately, Ariel has become dissatisfied with her rider. Because of her disappointment, she has developed a voice. I wish I could share her voice with you, but to give you a good sense, imagine what "Tickle Me Elmo" would sound like, if Elmo were a girl.
Tickle-Me Ariel: Amy! We've got the downhill as our advantage. Go faster. You can't be breathing hard enough. I can go faster==millions of miles faster. Faster! Wheeee!!
Amy: Are you crazy? Don't you see that corner coming up?
Ariel: You got it. Just go wide before the turn, like they taught you. You can do it!
Coach Dave: Amy, you can do it. Trust yourself! You don't need to brake now.
Ariel:Yeah! Trust yourself. Or better yet, trust me. Trust meeee, Amy!
Amy: (Softly, aloud to Coach Dave): I'm scared...
Amy:(to Ariel): I'm applying the brakes.
Ariel: Nooooo. Not the brakes. oh..... That's sooo sad...
Amy: Well, we are alive.
Ariel: If you call this living.
Amy:Here comes the uphill.
Ariel: I'm okay going slower here.
Amy: No, now we've got to work! Work, work, work!
Coach Michael: Great job, Amy. Keep it up all the way to the line.
Amy: (softly, tongue hanging out) uggggg.
Ariel: Okay, now it's time to go downhill again. You are so chicken. This is Agnes's fault, isn't it? Didn't she make you crash? Not much of a comfort bike, if she throws you off as though she were a rodeo bull! Do you call that comfort?
Amy:Ariel! That's not nice. I don't know if it was Agnes's fault. I hadn't ridden her since November, and forgot how well her brakes worked. That's why I went straight over her handlebars and hurt my hand.
Ariel: So badly you didn't ride me for days and had to go get your hand, the size of a cantelope, X-rayed. For heaven's sake, stop riding that big girl. Ride me; I am an angel. I won't stop too quickly for you!
Amy: Angel my foot. You are a pixy!
Ariel: I am not into mischief. But you are doing a Half Ironman! I don't think you can do it if you are so chicken that you wear out my brakes! Aren't you doing this to help cure cancer. For that, you gotta take a few chances.
Amy: Oh, my. Raising the ante, are we? You are going to make me cry. I will try harder, but I must be realistic. I am not three; I am forty-six years old.
Ariel: Okay, we'll compromise. You go safely, but work hard riding me till you feel comfortable going faster and know you will not crash.
Amy: Well, the workout is over now, so let's talk to our teammates.
Coach Michael: Great workout. Is everyone appropriately exhausted?
Crowd: Oh, my, I can barely breathe I am so tired! I am in pain!
Amy (bewildered, raising her hand): Maybe it's just me, but...
Ariel: Oh, my God, you are going to tell them what a wimp you are. Put your hand down! This is not law school and you are not the free space in bingo.
Amy: Umm. Well, I am not particularly tired because I can't go very hard down those hills.
Coach Michael: Why is that? Is there something wrong with your bike?
Ariel: Holy cow, you aren't going to blame this on me, are you? I can go as fast as lightening down the hills if you'll let me.
Amy: No, the bike is great. But I feel that, if I go any faster, I will crash and die.
Crowd: HO! HO! HO! Hee Hee Hee. HA HA. Amy is so funny.
Amy: Umm. I'm not kidding.
Ariel: I am so embarrassed.
Coach Wendy: It is very important not to crash and die. (You may remember Wendy coached
me through last year's triathlon, and I did not crash and die).
Coach Michael: It may be that your fitness is ahead of your bike handling skills. This just means that you have to push even harder going uphill or in the flats, and you have to practice your bike handling skills more.
Ariel: WHEEEEE! I LOVE COACH MICHAEL. MORE BIKING!! MORE FUN!! And, Amy, I'll help you get ready for the Half Ironman. And help you to support those who are curing cancers. Together, we're a team. We can do it!!!!!!!!