city bike

When we lived in Canada I started playing waterpolo. It was fun. It was good exercise twice a week. I felt like waterpolo was a really good sport for me- it was "my sport." When we moved to Denmark, I could not find a waterpolo team to play with. There just are not enough people here- not every sport has a group of people who want to play it. And they already have handball, which is like waterpolo without the water. Danes love their handball. So I decided last year, around this time, that I needed another sport to call "my sport." I thought that doing triathlons might be it. So I started swimming, running and riding my bike every week. After the new year, I signed up to do a team triathlon with some friends. I would be the swimmer. I thought it would be a good way to get a read on the triathlon culture in Denmark. My training was going well, so, kind of on a whim, I decided to sign up for the mini triathlon that the running club in my town was holding a few weeks before the team triathlon.

My "thing" about triathlons is that it is an expensive sport to get started in because you need a lot of equipment, the most expensive being a racing bike. I was not sure I wanted to do triathlons regularly, so I was not about to go out and buy a bike just for racing. We don't have the disposable income to even entertain the idea. I had read many times about how important having a racing bike to do any triathlon was- even your first one. But no one really explained WHY and I just assumed it was because most people don't actually own a bike that they ride regularly. Most people have cars. We don't have a car, so this advice about getting a racing bike did not apply to me. I had a bike. I bought a racing seat for my bike (because it happened to need a new seat) and figured I would be fine for this mini triathlon.

So I show up for the race. There was some coordination with the kids because Marc had to go into work for a bit beforehand. I set all my stuff up in the transition area. Marc helped me understand the race instructions because they were given in Danish and two sets of non-fluent ears are better than one. And then I got myself ready and started the race. The swim went well. I was faster than most of the women. Then came the cycling. As I think back, I was unprepared in so many ways for the cycling part. I had no map, physically or mentally. I had no spare tire anything (though I do have this stuff in my tubes to self-seal punctures). And, I was on a three gear bike called a city-bike, because it is made for casually transporting oneself around town... like in the city. But everyone else was on road-racing bikes. And the advice to be in a triathlon riding a race bike made so much sense as I was passed by everyone. Because I could see that for every push of a pedal, a racing bike travels farther and faster than a city bike. So the other riders had to put in a significantly less amount of energy to complete the cycling portion of the race than I did. I was wasted before I even started running just because of the bike I chose to ride. My endurance and physicality did not really matter because my equipment made the cycle section of the triathlon so much harder for me. I was so tired, I had to do the run slowly. So the few people who had not passed me in the cycling portion, were able to do so in the running portion.
I finished last, obviously. I was happy I finished at all.

Our life in Denmark is surrounded by people who have a lot more access to family and to money than we have. That is just the facts of our life right now, facts that have come out of choices but also out of uncontrolled circumstances. I do not resent these people for the lives they have made, just like I didn't resent the other triathlon participants for the bikes they were riding. But I can see that for the same amount of energy expended, they are able to do a lot more than we are. And the result, especially since adding a second child, is that we really can not keep up. We have to live our life differently and we are the only people that have to do that. So we end up struggling with feelings of isolation and loneliness. We started this year just weighed down by these feelings. We entered the spring with the realization that life is not sustainable this way. But we weren't exactly sure what, if anything, could change. The only thing that we felt that we could do was pray about it. And those prayers led us to another family. A family who is riding on the same type of bike as we are. And we have decided to ride together... maybe eventually we will link our bikes to each other. It just feels like, if we are riding together, life won't feel so much like a race where we are being left behind anymore.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...