Last night I hopped on the rollers.
It’s been awhile since all of my bikes other than my tri bike are either missing pedals or saddles or brake cables. But when I realized there was a road bike in tact with pedals and cables and a seat (how did I get this lucky) - I decided it was time to get back on the rollers to spin.
Chris was there to watch the event. Because it’s quite an event to watch someone reboard the rollers when it’s been awhile. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. But when you’ve been off the rollers for a while - if you traced the route taken once on the rollers, you’d see a lot of squiggly lines.
Each time I get back on the rollers, it feels like the first time. I can still remember the first time I rode the rollers. It was probably 7 years ago. If you want to teach someone to ride on rollers quick then you put them next to a sliding glass door. With a small handle to hang on to for dear life when you are about to fall off. That’s how I learned because that’s what Chris did.
And when you fall on the rollers it is never a good thing. You can feel it coming, see it coming and then you are a like a car in a skid. You’re not sure if you should steer left, steer right, oversteer or just take your hands off all together and let yourself fall. Moments later, you find yourself with your bike on top of you and half your body jammed in the rollers and the other half on the floor.
Which is why wherever you choose to put the rollers – there should be a clear floor. Lots of open, soft space so you can just freefall. In fact, best to put some pillows there too. Because when you fall from that height you fall hard. Trust me, I’ve fallen my fair share of times.
I watched my husband readapt to the rollers a few weeks ago. He’s a darn good cyclist so it gives me great pleasure to watch him struggle at something cycling-related. Reminds me that even the best have a weakness. Weakness only for a short time. It took him just a few wiggles and one major fall before he stayed on for good.
And now it’s my turn. The first minute or so, Chris held my handlebars. Just in case. Then he stood next to me. Just in case. Then he just stared. Which was almost as nerve wracking as being on top of the rollers themselves. It’s been awhile so I was squiggling all over the place. I wanted to shoot him a dirty look for staring at me but that would require taking my eyes off the front wheel which right then was the only thing keeping me on.
After a few minutes, he left me on my own. But I still had the half wall. When we were looking for a new house, I knew our current one would be ours because in the basement there is a half wall that is in just the perfect place and height for riding with the rollers. You want something half way that you can hang on to when you start to wiggle and squirm. By the way – wiggle and squirm are usually precursors to….fall.
Soon enough the body remembers and I’m riding a fairly straight line. What I like about the rollers is that they force you to relax. To release the death grip on the handlebars and ride from your core. If you’re stable and balanced, you’ll stay on. If you are sketchy and twitchy, you’ll fall off.
Chris decides to take some pictures of me on my bike to check the position. I’m focusing on the front wheel because that’s really all you can do. A few years ago I got to the point where I could watch television and ride the rollers. I’m not back there yet. Maybe soon I’ll try. But tonight I just stared at the floor. The pattern in the carpet. Sometimes I’ll put pictures of my big races or pieces of paper with quotes on them on the floor just so I have something to focus on other than the floor.
And when you sit and watch the wheel turn over and over again it makes you dizzy. Add to that the fact that even though you are moving – the air doesn’t move. So it grows hotter and hotter until you are sweating. Then your hands start to hurt. And sweat. Then you lose your grip. And squiggle and at some point you just…fall.
Chris is flashing pictures of me nonstop. Seriously this went on for at least 10 minutes. To the point where I said would you please stop before the flashing lights give me a seizure which would definitely make me fall. He laughed and then soon went away. And wouldn’t you know the moment he walked upstairs I felt myself wiggle, squiggle, steer left, steer right and then
There, it happened. A fall.
Somehow in the three seconds it took to fall I clipped out of my left pedal, put my left foot out but the shoe slipped on the carpet so in the end I just found myself on the floor covered with my bike anyways. And still clipped in. Of course I made some dramatic noise as I fell which brought Chris running back down the stairs. Took one look at me in a crumpled heap and asked, “did you fall?”
No. I’m just taking a rest.
Of course I fell! Look at me. This is not part of the training plan – lay on ground and do single-legged pedaling drill upside down for 10 seconds. I’m literally trapped by my bike. And I’m still holding on to the handlebars. Like that makes a difference. Now help me up, would you.
I’m back on my bike and reestablish my rhythm and balance. There are a few more wiggles and squiggles and then a squirm but no more falls. After 45 minutes I decide I will retreat to the trainer for something less mentally intense plus I’m tired of staring at the carpet and wall. Besides, America’s Next Top Model is on which I admit has been my show of choice for many an easy ride.
I’m sure I’ll get back on the rollers one day soon. Right now it’s the closest thing I have to actually going somewhere on my bike. I’m still convinced that if I get spinning too fast I will literally launch myself off the rollers and through the wall. And then Chris would come running downstairs to ask if I just rode through the wall. Of course I did! This is not part of the training plan – put out enough power to break through wall and roll right through. Now help me out of here. And turn America's Next Top Model on.