“I’ll wait for you.”

It was a quarter ’til when Dr. Nicholson walked in.  I had gotten to his office only 7-8 minutes before that in a high state of anxiety.  I had come from Subway and had eaten a salad for lunch, as I’m trying to get my diet and exercise (aka. my life) under control so that I can lose weight and enjoy climbing and all things outdoors more.  I had my work boots on, along with nothing in particular to ride my bike with, and my iPad Mini.  I had driven my 2015 F-150 truck to my appointment instead of riding my new Co-op ADV 3.1 like I had planned for a couple of days and anxiety had stopped me from doing.  I was so incredibly anxious and frustrated with myself, and I sat there quite unhappily, waiting.  Dr. Nicholson walked toward his office door and stopped short of it.  “Did you get your bike yet?”  Yes.  “Have you ridden it yet?”  No.  “Why not?”  Well, I’ve had some issues.  “Do you have a lock?”  Yes.  “Do you know where it is?”  Yes.  He looked at his watch.  “Well, go get it and ride it over here.”  It’s an anxiety thing.  “What I should do is make you go get it and ride it over here, isn’t it?”  He looked at his watch again.  “It takes me six minutes to get here from my house on my bike.  Go get it and we can talk about the anxiety when you get back.  I’ll wait for you.”  I stood up and looked at the clock.  It was ten ’til.  Okay.  I walked out the door.

The city was doing some kind of utility work and the high school kids had taken my parking space, and all of the parking spaces, almost to the corner of the next block up, so I had to park almost a block from my apartment.  I parked and walked quickly with my iPad to my apartment.  I picked up all of the things I hadn’t yet stowed in my frame bag and headed toward the back door with them.  I decided I didn’t have time for all of that.  I settled for putting it all down in a box that I had on the kitchen table and going instead for my biking gloves (fluorescent green/yellow) and my helmet.  I donned these as I ascended the back steps of my apartment and got out the back door.  My U-lock was already in my frame bag and I had already been carrying my bike keys with me all day.  I double-checked to make sure they were still in my pocket.  Opening the garage door seemed to take forever.  I walked straight to my bike, walked it out of the garage, and shut the garage door.  Here goes…  I straddled my bike and had no idea how to grip it in order to start this journey.  The first thing I did was crash into my Ford Ranger.  I stood my bike and myself back up, assessed for damage (there was none), and tried again.  This time, I was successful enough at starting out that I was off and riding.  Not having ridden a bike in a few years and having gained a considerable amount of weight, along with never having ridden a bike that fits me or a drop-handle bike with end shifters was proving already to be an adventure in itself, and I hadn’t even gotten out of the alley!!!  I rode north past the utility workers and toward what I dreaded – the first stop sign at Lewis Ave.  I stopped at Lewis and a person in an SUV patiently waited behind me.  My chain had all of a sudden gone slack and I couldn’t figure out why.  I got off my bike to troubleshoot the problem and the driver passed me by.  I soon figured out what the problem was.  I had accidentally bumped the left shift lever and the chain hadn’t had a chance to catch up.  I moved the shifter back up into position and, after paddling my way across Lewis, managed to get going and pedaling again so that my gears could get the chain sorted out.  Now came the big challenge.  Grand Avenue.  No stoplight and one of the busiest streets in town.  I came to the stop sign and saw that I had just enough time if I hurried to cross without putting my foot down.  I went for it and made it!  I had made it across Grand and a wave of relief washed over me.  Okay.  The next obstacle was a split in the roadway over by the school and some short turns where cars may not necessarily see me coming.  I made some sketchy decisions there, but it kept me from having to stop, which was my worst fear at the time.  I cut onto the sidewalk at 9th Ave. and 30th St. toward my doctor’s office.  I rode the block and a quarter to the parking lot and rather skillfully dismounted, which I was surprised at.  Okay.  It was time to park my bike and lock it to something.  I brought it up onto the deck.  Unfortunately, I had dumped the cable lock in the box on the kitchen table and didn’t have it with me.  Nothing on the deck was going to work for my U-lock.  I paced back and forth, throwing my hands in the air.  I thought about going inside with it unlocked and sitting on the deck.  No way.  Then I saw the metal railing lining the handicap ramp.  Now that would work with a U-lock!  I carried my bike down off of the deck to the ramp and used my U-lock for the first time on my first bike ride on my new bike.  It worked!  I was so surprised that it worked.  Okay, gotta get inside.  The Doc’s waiting on me.  I hurried up the ramp and inside.  Dr. Nicholson was straightening something out with his schedule and talking to Kathy, so I took the opportunity to attempt a recovery from my sheer terror with the relief of cold water to drink in the bathroom.  A harried and terrifying ride later, it was only seven minutes past the hour.

I sat down, sweating, with my gloves in my helmet, and that in my lap.  Dr. Nicholson told me, “You can go on into my office.  I have to go look at your bike first, though.”  Out the door he went.  I just sat where I was in the waiting room, content to rest for a few more minutes before moving again.  He came back in very impressed.  “That’s a pretty nice bike!  Disc brakes!”  We went into his office.  “So, how was it?  The ride over here?  Was that really your first time riding your new bike?”  Yes, it really was my first ride.  “Well, you got across Grand!”  I told him I was now officially late for an appointment for the first time ever, too.  “You’re not late.  You were doing homework!  This is one of the most therapeutic things we’ve done!!!”  He was so excited it was contagious.  I felt good.  I felt good that I had overcome all of that and got to show Dr. Nicholson my new bike.  We talked about my experience up at REI Bozeman and how I had it outfitted.  He liked the Salsa Everything Racks on my front forks and knew what they were.  I told him that some of my anxiety was over the Presta valves, because I had no idea what to do with them or how to use them.  I couldn’t even remember the name, except that it started with a “P”.  “Come on.  I’ll show you.”  We walked outside to my bike and he had me take the valve cap off, exposing the stem.  He then reached down and pointed to the golden ring around the stem inside.  “You go ahead and loosen that and then you put your pump on it.  Usually there’s a lever that locks on the pump.  When you’re done, you just take the pump off – make sure you undo the lever first, I’ve got a story for you about that – and then tighten that ring down again. Just finger-tight.  Now put the cap back on, and you’re done.  These are actually a lot better than the Schrader valves that leak air all over when you’re trying to get the pump on.”  We walked back inside his office (he told me about a conversion tool that I should get for the valves on the way) and talked about my bike some more and what I needed to be prepared, do’s and don’t’s as far as what to leave on my bike, what was nice about it, what kind of bike it was, and what it had been like to ride it over.  “Well, are you glad I had you do it?”  Yes.  “Good!”  He nodded and said, “Well, I figure the best way to get over the anxiety of riding your bike is to go ride your bike!  Now you can ride it up and down Yellowstone and get used to the gears and how it handles and the brakes.  Plan out your route over to SteepWorld.  Google Maps has bike routes.”  We fiddled with that for a few minutes.  “Then you drive the route first and think about how you’re going to feel riding a bike along that route.  Think about whether or not you’re going to be comfortable riding your bike using that route and make changes if you need to.  Remember, when you’re on your bike, you’re invisible.”  He was very satisfied with our treatment of my anxiety.  He told me his story about the Presta valve.  On Black Otter Trail, he had forgotten to release the lever on the pump first and pulled the entire valve apparatus out of his brand new tube!  He didn’t have the tool to remove the innards of the valve apparatus from his flat tube, so he had to patch it in the wind, haha!  Dr. Nicholson had some calculations that he wanted me to do as far as gear-inches and things go.  I had him write down the equations and the terminology for me, as I’d never remember it all.  It began to rain.  “Uh-oh.  It’s raining.  I’ve gotta go put something over my seat.  Be right back.”  You have a leather seat?  “Yeah.”  A Brooks?  “Yeah.”  He covered his seat and came back.  “So, do you think you’ll feel better about riding your bike on the way back to your house?”  Yes, Sir.  “Good!  See you Friday!”

I waited out the thunder and lightning and heavy rain inside the waiting room and visited with Kathy.  “Just remember.  Character-building.”  We laughed.  My bike was going through its first true test all the way around.  I felt great!  07 May 2018.  My first ride on my new Co-op ADV 3.1 Adventure Touring Bike.  I have a fantastic doctor!

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