I take that back.

You know you’re in for quite the ride when you’re wearing less warmth-retaining clothing than twenty Swedish men on bicycles. Add to that the fact that it’s raining with a force that would inspire the utterly descriptive term “Storm of the Century” from naïve lips of many a humble Southern Californian, and you know you’re in for an adventure.

Such is how I found myself Saturday morning, meeting for my first ride with CK Lunedi in the could-have-been -anywhere gray morning darkness of an industrial park in southern Sweden. Just what I wanted from my Saturday morning: freezing my you-know-what off in TetraPak’s back yard with a bunch of old dudes, dying internally from the special brand of silent awkwardness that I’m positive is Sweden’s most widespread national disaster.

The ride leader explains the hand signs, the rules of the road, a little bit about the route, and a bit about how CK Lunedi teaches the rotating pace-line. I am impressed at my ability to understand everything he says, but very disappointed in what seems like a very stupid way of pace-lining. The line on the left speeds up until the first rider in  is able to pull in front of the right hand line and take the wind? Seems a whole lot less efficient then just having the person in front of the right line drop off to the left–but I’m not about to argue.

So we roll out. And it’s fine for a while. Skåne is sort of like Davis in terms of terrain, and it is sort of a miracle for someone who is used to Berkeley to be able to be able to stay in the big ring for an entire ride.

About ten minutes in, it’s not fine anymore. An old Swedish dude rides up next to me first of all says that usually there are women along too (I sort of don’t believe him) and secondly that aren’t my handlebars crooked? I look down.

“Jaaa. (Major shame. Why does this always happen to me? At least my seat didn’t snap off) Det är det. Det kan jag fixar när stannar vi i Dalby (we’re stopping in Dalby, right…hehe?).

I’m too busy blinking the mud out of my eyes to really look at the fields around me, but somehow I manage to keep them open enough to catch a glimpse of a snow-filled ditch on the side of the road. Another Swedish dude rides up next to me and asks me if I’m cold. No way, I answer, trying to sound more badass than I actually am (this could in fact be the story of my entire life). I can’t help but think there’s a whole team of cyclists at home who want to kill me for my mind-numbingly stupid decision to not wear my full-fingered gloves, even though I now actually have them.

About halfway through the ride, I find myself in a group that is starting to get dropped. So we decide to take it calm and ride two groups. This helps a little bit with my misery. The ride leader tells me to just yell if I get dropped. OK. About 10 minutes later I find myself falling off the back….”JAG TAPPASSSSS!!” I’M DROPPINGGGGG! They slow, the ride leader rides in of me…”hålla på min rulle” Hold on to my wheel. God, how many times have I heard that one.

At last we’re in an area I recognize. Good thing we’re almost back to the industrial park. Another Swede rides up next to me and says something about how my fingers are going to fall off. I have no words to answer him and only say nej in a very raspy, short of breath voice.

When I finally make it home, I have no feeling in my feet or hands. Somehow I make it upstairs with my bike and almost immediately jump into what would become a very unsustainable shower.

LESSONS LEARNED: Sweden is still freaking cold. Don’t be an idiot. Boys ride bikes fast. Check your handle bars.

You think that would be obvious, right? Apparently not.

Also,  for a victory on the language side, I am not sure that any of them actually found out that I’m not Swedish. Although the AIDS Lifecycle Kneewarmers may have given it away….


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5 Responses to “I take that back.”

  1. Katie Says:

    I’m going to forward this to the cycling list. Inspiring!

  2. SabrinaL Says:

    Sounds crazy – frost bite – lessons learned – glad you got a good ride in!

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