Caren Ware's Blog

August 23, 2010

I Duck taped my feet to the pedals.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Caren Ware @ 11:41 pm

When I was timing events in the French Polynesian islands, I was also trying to train for triathlons.  I needed to cross train on a bike and was offered one to borrow. The Tahitians proudly delivered what they billed as the best bike on Moorea.  Through the Tahitian to French to English translation they never caught on that I really needed clip on pedals, the pulling of up and down, to get a cycle workout.  I accepted the thoughtful gift from the broad-shouldered, dark-skinned beauty of a man anyway.  He was smiling.  Always smiling.  The entire island smiled.  A free and easy smile.  No pretense here.  “Why would anyone need to pedal fast through life anyway?”, his smile said.

So I devised a plan.  I got duck tape out of our timing supplies and had the local boys steady me on the bike while others wound the grey tape over and over until my shoes became one with the pedals.  Proud of my inventiveness I had them shove me off on my journey of no choice pedaling around the entire island.  It was 35 miles. I wouldn’t be able to stop.  I had a return landing plan to glide up to this same parking lot that had a coconut tree planted in the center. I would gently lean in to it to stop.  The boys promised to be there in wait of unwrapping my feet.  I knew they would.  These same boys so leisurely squat  and wait for a bus that passes only three times a day, or for a sunset, or a cyclone, or a cousin to come back fishing from the reef. They were delighted with this new found fun and a funny lady that would tape her feet to the pedals of a bike.  I could hear their giggles long after I pedaled away. 

Volcanic mountains. Waves breaking way out on the reef. Little islands out in the lagoon called atolls. Canoes pulled up on shores. Lush landscape, and flowers, flowers, and more flowers.  I pedaled past what I esteem as one of the loveliest places on earth.  The rewards  around every bend made the steamy heat durable.  Kind of.  I was oiled with sweat. Drinking from the water bottle took careful  dexterity.  Pedal slow enough, but not fall over while unscrewing the cap with my teeth with only one hand on the handle bars.  Phew.

About 10 miles into the ride I hit my first squall.  I saw the rain coming and knew it would be welcomed.  Squalls pass through every day, all day long and douse the heat for a teasing moment, sprinkler to the tropics.  I shake my wet hair and yahoo as it drenched me.  I didn’t realize the challenge this rain would bring.  The huge land crabs also live for the fresh rain.  They pick up their front claws and race on their hind legs to the black pavement to suck up the pools of water that fill up in the asphalt rivets.  Oh, my stars.  Hundreds of them filled the road.  Their uniform response to my approaching rubber tires was to stand up and fight.  An army of land crabs were faced in my direction and valiantly going to duel with this mighty metal beast clambering toward them.  No brain waves in these crustaceans.  They didn’t consider moving out-of-the-way.

So I had no choice, glued to my bike, but to dodge them by the hundreds.  If I ran over even one of their spiked shelled backs the tires would pop and I would be hiking a bike around an island long into the night.  Zip. Swerve. Dodge. Obscenity.  Opps.  Not their fault.  They are just dumb crabs.  I hit three more squalls each with its brigade of crabs on the road.  I promise it was more intense than any video game you have ever sat through.  Fast twitch.  Adept reflex.  Twist. Turn. Don’t go off the road.  And then I did.  Right into a ditch.  Me, the bike, and my feet tapped to the pedals. 

So there I was splat on my back in a grassy ditch straddling a bike unable to reach the tape and get my feet released from their shackle.  This is definitely not the first time I have had to say, “how the heck did I get in this position?”  I think it’s called being in a pickle.  I am not sure why.   Another squall came and with great laughter filled the ditch with muddy gunk as I squirmed to get the bike back underneath my butt.  I had to fully roll over in the mud and drag myself by my hands up the embankment lashed to the bike.  Then I had to paw up a banana tree to get the bike in an angle I could shove off again. 

There was no way to communicate my adventures to the boys squatting in the parking lot when I finally circumvented the island, but I am sure they came up with their own story.  They laughed from their depths like only islanders can as they yanked and pulled until the tape finally released my shoes and I popped off the pedals.  They stood back and gleefully surveyed their muddy, scraped funny lady that had duck taped her feet to the pedals so she could ride faster around the island.  I know the boys wanted to say, “Sure seeed to have taken her a long time, longer than when we do it not taped”.  They marveled at my inefficiency while trying to be.

I tape myself to the pedals a lot…in life.

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