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Monday, September 28, 2015

Clipping In

I'm writing this piece through rose colored glasses. I'm writing this after a weekend that can only be described as magical. I'm writing this after literally having THE WORLD visit Libby Hill Park. I walk Miss Austen there most days. There was a helicopter! There was a jumbo tron! It was crazy amazing! I will never forget it as long as I live.

Had I written this at the beginning of the week however, there would have been a decidedly different tone to it. Last Monday I thought to have we f'd this up so bad people?! The city was empty, restaurant receipts were down 40%, the local media jumped all over it and we felt confused.

Were people scared to come into the city because of traffic problems? Did they not understand that a bike race is a spectator sport? Did they not realize that their support was needed? Did someone mislead the organizing committee about how many visitors the city could expect?

I don't know the answers to these questions, but I'm sure we'll hear much more in the coming months about them. What I do know is that I'm scared. I'm scared that, despite the weekend's success, enough things didn't go as smoothly as planned, and so, Richmond will do what it sometimes does best, contract into our bubble.

Please don't. We have to start somewhere people.

I've been biking pretty seriously for about two years now. Right before the Cap2Cap 50 mile ride in May, I bought myself a new bike and decided to take the plunge and clip in. For all of you non-riders out there, that means that my shoes are literally clipped in, or hooked, to my pedals. If the bike starts falling and I can't get my foot out, I fall with it.

For me it's meant a huge improvement in my riding. By spreading the workload out between the front and backs of my legs, as opposed to just the front, I've decreased muscle fatigue and increased my endurance which is key on longer rides. I also feel like my bike is now an extension of my own body so I maneuver better and stay on pace more consistently.

Lest you think I'm some kind of expert, I fell within the first five minutes of attempting this. I'd worked out in my head that I'd unclip my right foot, stop the bike and then step down. Well, apparently I lean left when I stop so although my right was unclipped, I tried to step down with my left, which was still in, and you guessed it....fell right on over.

Falling is really jarring. I'm an adult. I haven't fallen regularly since I was seven. It took me weeks to have a ride without one. I would stop and forget to take either foot out. I would try a steep hill not gauging my gear right, loose traction and once again not be able to get my foot out in time. It was embarrassing. It was painful. It left a lot of bruises. But I kept going and gradually I got better. Now, I don't fall so much. That never would have happened if I'd given up the first time I hit the pavement.

If I could say one thing to RVA it's please don't give up. Please don't let any hiccups, falls or missteps preclude you from trying this again. You are amazing. Your city is amazing. Keep letting her shine. Keep clipping in......

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