The Peddler: Breaking Things and Finding Progress

I totally bailed on my group ride this week.

After having a great 35-mile ride with a group on the Fourth of July, I figured the 30-mile ride with the girls would be a breeze. But, it wasn't. I just wasn't feeling it.

I had to talk the ride leader into letting me go while convincing her that I was OK. I dropped back, turned around, and proceeded to head back home after just a few miles of riding.

But I realized I couldn't just stop. I'll be riding 62 miles in a couple of weeks. I haven't surpassed 40 miles in one ride; I need to log all the miles I can get.

So, I kept going by myself.

In an earlier article, I wrote about how I hated riding alone. Every solo ride felt difficult, hot and boring.

But this particular night, it was perfect. Sure, it might've been cooler, but I think I've also gotten used to being in the saddle and am more comfortable with the movements. This time, I was able to relax and relieve stress by staying on the bike and pedaling alone.

I still believe that the social aspect of cycling is a big part of the sport for me, but I'm learning to really appreciate the beauty of getting lost on a ride all by myself.

I rode paths I had never set my wheels down on before. I got more comfortable drinking from my water bottle while riding. I even stopped at one point to admire the view and take a photo.

This also gave me a chance to practice shifting gears. I'm embarrassed to admit this, but I've seriously neglected this facet of cycling, completely avoiding it at all costs. So, for the last few months, I've been pushing like crazy going slowly uphill. I had recently gotten some tips on shifting from a friend, so I went to execute what I had learned.

I went through some hilly neighborhoods, going back and forth, up and down hills. I didn't mind that some neighbors were probably worried I was casing the neighborhood; I was getting the hang of this shifting thing.

My light had been turned on for a while, but at one point, I realized it was almost 9 p.m. It was starting to really get dark, and I knew I should probably head home.

I wasn't going to take my normal flat route home, though. I was taking the hilliest route I knew. I turned off the road that goes around the lake and began to climb.

"Now switch to the smaller ring," I thought, then I did.

There was a terrible clattering noise behind my pedaling feet.

I stopped, knowing I had dropped my chain. I stooped down to look at it and saw that not only was it off the cassette, but the rear derailleur (I did not know it was called this at the time) had also snapped off. I kneeled there, only slightly moving things around, not accomplishing anything and dirtying my hands with grease.

Long story short, multiple cars stopped for people to ask if I needed help before my husband could pick me up and take me and my broken bike home.

So, my bike—have I mentioned this is a loaner?—is in the shop for an entire week while a sympathetic mechanic orders the parts and installs them for me.

What was revealing about this experience wasn't just that I really did some damage when I dropped the chain. (When you're going to make a mistake for the first time, you better go all out, right?)

Driving home, I was really upset. It took me a few minutes of sulking before I realized I was really bummed I wasn't going to be able to ride my bike for a week or so.

Now, I'm starting to wonder if what people said would happen is actually happening. Am I actually falling in love with this sport?

To find out more information about The Rapha Women's 100 or to pledge to ride July 26, visit Rapha's site.

Read the rest of The Peddler series.

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