Alright, so the weekend didn’t end as planned. I was planning on being back in Rochester by 6 to see a movie or two at The Little. I didn’t get back till 8 or 9, though.
Around 12:30, Eric and I took off for a ride on the bikes. I didn’t think we were going to be gone more than half an hour, so I just pulled on the clothes from the night before and took off. We had been out for about 15 minutes when we stopped to call my cousin Mike and see if that crew was out riding. They were planning to take off in about 20 minutes’ time, so we turned around and headed out their way.
I don’t get to see much of my cousins these days, and I’ve never ridden with more than one other person, so riding with that crew was a lot of fun. There were six bikes - me, my brother Eric, my cousins Kevin and Mike (with Laura on board) and their friends Pat and Jim. We rode out to the reservation so everybody could buy cheap cigarettes, then back to the house because Jim’s bike was acting up, then out to Chestnut Ridge, where Michelle (Kevin’s girlfriend) was having a family picnic or something. Throughout the course of the day we put almost 100 miles in.
It’s worth noting at this point that it was sunny, in the high 80’s, and very humid on Sunday. I was wearing a black helmet, gloves, jeans, boots, and a leather jacket - typical biking attire. I was sweating in places I didn’t know I could sweat. Everyone else was riding in jeans and T-shirts, and THEY were sweating in places they didn’t know they could sweat. I figured, if I fell off the bike, Jim was riding behind me and would run me over anyway, so I stuffed the jacket in Mike’s saddle bag shortly after we left.
As you may recall, this leaves me in a T-shirt and a pair of gloves (on the top half, anyway). You may also recall the bit about the sun.
I was burnt to a crisp from just above my elbows to my wrists. Most of my face was beat red too, aside from the top inch of my forehead (which was covered by the helmet). It was one goofy looking sunburn, but 60 MPH winds through a T-shirt make an 88 degree day far more bearable than a black leather jacket.
At one point, Mike pulled into the left lane and went flying past everyone. Naturally, we all kicked down a gear and took off after him. It turns out my dad’s bike can do about 95 MPH before you need to slow down for railroad tracks.
I thought I was pretty comfortable on the bike when we started out, but I definitely noticed at the end of the day that it felt more natural. I was making the same mistake I did when I get my learner’s permit: I was so nervous about staying in my own lane that I watched the road 20 feet in front of the car and kept nudging the wheel to keep myself in the middle, which only made me bounce back and forth more. My dad told me, “Just look out further down the road, and you’ll stay where you need to be.”
Without constantly focusing on exactly where I was in the lane, it was easier to stay pretty close to the middle. I was doing the same thing on the bike: I knew that I didn’t want to hit pot holes or road kill, so I always watched 20 or 30 feet out to avoid obstacles.
Since I usually ride a couple bike-lengths behind Eric in the right half of the lane, I could bob and weave side to side a little bit without causing any problems. On Sunday, I spent most of my time next to someone and in the left half of the lane, so I couldn’t go too far either way. Maybe it was just easier to watch the bike ahead of me and swerve when he did (lots of road kill on those country roads), but I found on the way home that it was easier to pay attention to the road ahead and stay put in the lane.
It’s a little unnerving to think that I was so confident on the bike before only to find that I could be better, but I know I’m still a beginner. I’m really hoping I can spend just as much time on it in two weeks when I go home, because that road test is coming up quick.