Jan & Karen, Danskin Triathlon, 2007

Jan & Karen, Danskin Triathlon, 2007

It’s Tuesday, June 21st, and it’s the first day of triathlon class.

When my friend, Karen, and I took the class before, we swam in our own mature women’s  lane on the end so as to avoid all the intensely competitive zipper-up-the-back black tri-suit wearers but we stopped when the instructor took to diagramming things on the chalkboard. Most of the time, his drawings had to do with exertion and recovery and how the proper balance of that was the science of stamina. I got the reasoning but it changed nothing. I have one swimming speed. I don’t mind swimming a long time. I just don’t like swimming fast. It requires so much exertion.

We made the running part of the training a nice brisk walk around the high school track. My friend’s knees are shot so there’s no running for her and, of course, I had to stick with her. How would she have felt if I took off jogging through the city streets, leaving her alone with the old ladies signed up for Ambling 101. Insensitive. That’s how it would look. And I’d have none of that. My friend’s feelings came first, never mind my training needs.

But biking was always the worst. My bike has been chained to an old refrigerator in the garage since last October. Over the weekend, we puzzled over why the key I had for the lock didn’t work. At one point, my husband proposed using his chainsaw to free my bike because, wow, heaven forbid, that I not have a bike for triathlon class. The logistics of the chainsaw strategy baffled me; he tried to demonstrate: all I’d have to do is hold the bike chain between my outstretched arms nice and taut so the saw could get through the chain.

It was between the 15th and 20th time trying to jam the tiny key into the lock and my husband waxing on about his chainsaw that it occurred to me that lightening may, in fact, have struck twice in the very same place and we were both suddenly in the throes of dementia.  What would that mean, I wondered, if both of us were wondering around the house looking for things, wondering what was up. It never seemed that scary before. But now there was this chainsaw dimension to it all. It gave me pause.

Fortunately, we finally found the right key and avoided the chainsaw. But I have to say I hate the reality of biking. I love how biking looks and, in my mind, I see myself pedaling across the country. It’s a goal that I would love, ambitious and solitary, like Forrest Gump running but without the people. The wind, the open road, the muscles, people in small towns cheering, the film of it all could play on a continuous loop at my funeral. Beautiful.

Basically, I think biking is a bitch, way more effort than it looks, a huge bait and switch. Plus I get insanely hot riding my bike even though I pedal so slow that there is a question of maintaining balance. My biking colleagues quickly become tiny dots on the horizon while I pedal on, flipping the gears and wondering which magic combo will make biking effortless. I just want to be like the other kids. Ride with no hands. Not be so hot.

I bought a new lock for this new adventure. My friend never uses a lock because she’s an old hippie and never carries anything valuable and says if you put your underwear on your valuables, nobody will steal anything anyway. But I bought a lock because I am pretty establishment and have thousands of dollars of hearing equipment to protect. My new lock is gold and very pretty. Delicate, like us. The golden girls.

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The Daily Post: Companion