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Beepin’ bikes

I don’t do great with new technology. This is a bit of a paradox as I’m an engineer and that’s sort of my field of employment. But there’s just something about learning new systems and buttons that is completely overwhelming to me. When I bought my first Garmin watch I was so daunted by the task of figuring it out it sat in the box for a week.

Another good example, when Apple releases a new iPhone software version, I become irrationally angry. I will do anything to avoid upgrading to that version. It usually doesn’t get resolved until Hubs hijacks my phone and performs the upgrade. “For security reasons” he says. Then I will, for days, dramatically ask him to look up simple things for me like the weather, locations, alarms because “everything is different and I can’t even.”

It’s just something about reprogramming my neuronic paths in my brain. Those synapses have been going a certain way for so long, why mess with a good thing? To me, comfort, familiarity, and habit outweigh the latest and greatest.

This year I bought a new triathlon bike. It is so beautiful. I’ll take a quick moment here to plug the shop, Transition Tri, in Northern VA. If you live in that area and are involved in Triathlon or just biking in general, check them out. The owner, Steve, is super knowledgeable and helpful, tell him I sent you. Anyway, he built me a custom bike; it’s literally one of a kind! I haven’t gotten to ride it outdoors much because I picked it up towards the end of Fall and it’s been cold and wet here for a while.

I’ve named it “Pearl” but in reality we just call it “the Cervelo”

So I got this new bike and Hubs was immediately pushing a new bike computer. Well I say new. But I should say A bike computer, I have not owned one since I was ten. The bike computers of yore involved a bunch of tiny sensors hard wired to a console mounted on the handlebars. That very flawed system would tell SPEED! I see no need for any further information than that. So when Hubs said to get the new Garmin bike computer that tells you cadence, speed, altitude, links with your heart rate, links with a power meter, links with the satellite, links with who knows what I just grimaced at him.

“I’m good. I don’t need all that. I just want to ride my bike.” This statement will become a theme for this post.

Then it turns out there’s a feature with a rear radar sensor that notifies you if a car is coming up behind you. 

I should deviate here slightly to explain what it is like riding on the country roads here. You are taking your ever-loving life in your hands when you step out your front door.  I’m not joking. Tiny, narrow roads, wicked twisty, no shoulder, steep ditches and embankments on the side, and SUPER GIANT PICKUP TRUCKS. It is like a train is passing you when one of those things goes by, and literally everyone is in a mega hurry. MEGA. You think you’re in the clear once the truck has passed but then you get hit by the draft of air sucked along behind and it’s like someone flushed you down the toilet – except the toilet is a ditch on the side of the road. The result is the same, dirty and brown.

So yes, theoretically I could see how having a sensor thing on the back of my bike notifying me of approaching cars could be useful.

I conceded to the bike computer WITH the stipulation that he had to set it all up, program all the things, and show me which exact buttons to push to go for a ride, pause a ride, and end a ride. That is ALL I wanted to know and I wanted to be involved in no other part of it.

Hubs was true to his word, he set the whole job up for me, he showed me what to push and sent me on my first ride saying “call me if you have any problems.”

I did not have any problems, it was fine, I was a little annoyed that the computer always knew when a steep climb was coming. It doesn’t just notify me, it counts down the hundreds of feet until the steep climb starts and then tells me how many hundreds of feet of climbing I have left to do. Sometimes less knowledge is better, Garmin.

Okay, there it is, I got new technology, I survived.

For Christmas, I bought Hubs a new bike. Well, really I approved the purchase of a new bike. But I did have a heavy hand in it as I worked it all out with Steve (again, can’t recommend that place enough) and had him build the bike I knew Hubs would want, arranged a fitting, coordinated the dates with a trip we had planned up to NoVA, and that was probably the best gift I’ll ever give him and I consider myself off the hook for future Christmas gifts for the foreseeable future. So this bike is called the Cervelo Soloist. This is an important fact that will come into play later on.

Hubs loves the bike, it’s very snazzy, he also loves technology. He likes to have all the things for a new hobby right away. He already has a bike computer but he gets fancy Bluetooth pedals, new shoes, new knickers (got him those for his birthday, I really am a great wife, and they really are called knickers) and fancy Bluetooth lights that connect to his bike computer, I don’t know why but they do, and a new water bottle. All set.

The stars align, the kids are at school, the weather’s nice, and I say, “let’s go ride the lollipop route.” This particular route is about 20 miles. It’s a doozy of a climb, straight up for the first 5 miles, then some rolling hills, a quick circle at the end and you do it all backwards. It’s not my favorite route, due to the climbing, but the distance was right so we decided to make it work.

If you don’t know, tri bikes are NOT known for climbing. They are designed for speed, at best some rolling hills, but mostly they’re made for cranking out serious watts on a relatively flat route. So this was not an ideal route for me but I had done it before. Hubs’ bike, the Soloist is MADE for climbing. These are two important facts.

We park at the base of the route, get our stuff on and wait while Hubs gets all his Bluetooth things synced and organized. He rides in circles for a bit, starts his computer, and pushes buttons. I’m standing there waiting because “I just want to ride my bike.” Well my little bike computer is bee-boppin’ at me. Notifications keep popping up on the screen, it says swipe to dismiss, so I’m swiping at the screen and they go away. Then they come back and it’s beeping and flashing, I don’t know what’s happening I only know how to start my ride, pause my ride, and stop my ride. After we finally start we immediately pull over so Hubs can re-sync his Bluetooth things and ride in circles some more, I’m standing there watching because….you guessed it, I just want to ride my bike. Then I tell him “things keep popping up on this screen, what’s going on?” He assures me it will go away, the lights and pedals are just syncing to his computer. So he’s ready, we start off again, and he TAKES OFF. Like a greyhound out of the gates he’s gone up the hill. Please revisit the fact that I don’t have a climbing bike, he does, and this route is all uphill for the first 5 miles. So fine, I’m a little annoyed, but whatever, I enjoy my own company. 

Beep-boop-flashing light-buzz-buzz. FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!

I am so mad at this point. I’m powering up this hill in my lowest gear which is NOT low enough, and this computer is yelling at me, and his dang lights and pedals are trying to sync to it and he’s not even here! We’re supposed to be doing this ride together. So I lift my hand off my handlebars to swipe the screen YET AGAIN and clear those notifications – I lose my balance and swerve off the road.

There are no curbs, there are no shoulders, there are only ditches. I am heading straight into a ditch, on my beautiful baby of a bike, and all I could think was “don’t scratch this lovely paint job.” So instead of bailing off the bike, I sacrifice myself. I land on my side and back with the bike attached to my feet and flip it up on top of me so it doesn’t hit the asphalt. Take a moment and appreciate what presence of mind I had during a crash. Who says I’m not good in a crisis?

I was literally SO mad. I cannot remember ever feeling that angry that quickly. I laid there for a minute, getting acquainted with gravity, until the urgency of an approaching car got me upright in the ditch. I sent Hubs a pointed text: do your own ride, I’m doing something else, see you back at the house.

I turned my bike around and cautiously rode down the hill towards the truck. I fumed the whole way. I don’t know about you all, but when I have those flares of irrational anger towards my spouse, I tend to follow the lack of rationality to every absurd endpoint in existence. I find ways to trace it back into everything he’s done that has ever peeved me. To the point that as I reached the bottom of the hill I just KNEW this meant he had a FLAWED CHARACTER and I should have seen it all along and I must have MARRIED THE WRONG MAN.

As I near the parking lot my radar starts beeping at me that a car is approaching, so I scoot to the side to let it pass.

NOPE.

It was Hubs, flying past me so fast my computer thought he was a car. Apparently he has HIS bike computer set up so he can read texts. He saw my message right away and turned around. Fuel to my fire.

“What’s wrong? Why’d you stop?”

My friends. I am not proud of what I said, and frankly I don’t remember most of it, but I know it involved a bit of beeping and booping, flashing light, and of course “I JUST WANTED TO RIDE MY BIKE BUT YOU DROVE ME INTO A DITCH YOU MONSTER.”

He insisted on riding with me on a different route despite my urges that he leave me alone for his own sake.

As we drove home in the truck he asked, “are we okay, like, our marriage?”

“Ask me tomorrow, not today.”

“Fair enough.”

Later that night he asked if I was feeling okay after my fall to which I gave a curt “yep.”

“But, I’m guessing I’ll be riding soloist from now on?”

I was too mad to even enjoy his pun.

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