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Welcome to the wonderful world of cross training! I’ll be your host – the still very injured runner, turned very scared cyclist.

Of course I use “cyclist” with a sly little smile and a nod to people who are actually able to ride a bike. Because I can’t steer straight and I’m too frightened to take one hand off the handlebars for even a second. So I’m more of a cyc-lost right now.

Ask any of my friends and they’ll tell you that I’ve been harping on about buying a bike for years. That is not hyperbole. Every time a specialist or physio suggested I cross train, or whenever a friend bought a bike of their very own, I’d go through the same rhetoric. “I should really do that…”, which awakens a little voice in my head for his two-cents-worth.

You can hardly drive here, how are you going to ride a bike in California? There are so many hills here, you can’t even run up them! What happens when you get a flat? Or the chain comes off?

On and on it goes, giving me lots of good reasons to enjoy the status quo. What changed? I started coaching a running group through Operation Move and suddenly I couldn’t tell them to get out there and train if I wasn’t doing the same thing. When one treadmill session ended in total agony I knew I had to stop being so wishy washy and take the plunge.

I know some people who didn’t necessarily get the lesson on tact as they were growing up. As a result, every new decision I make or path I take is met with some very interesting reactions and diatribes. If this sounds like you, here are a few tips on what words shouldn’t cross your lips when talking to a new cyclist.

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  1. Remember that girl who died on her bike? 
    Yes actually, I do remember her. It’s all I can do to keep her out of my brain when I’m strapping on my helmet and praying that some maniac doesn’t run a red light and plow into me with their car. I do appreciate your concern, but maybe you could express it in another way, like asking about what cool gear I bought along with my bike. Such as a helmet.
  2. That story about your cousin’s, uncle’s, daughter’s son falling off his bike and breaking every bone in his body.
    This one really is a no-brainer. If I wasn’t starting this whole biking thing, I’d probably happily listen to this story and make all of the horrified expressions at the right times. I might not even give it another thought afterwards. But now it’s a little too real. Knowing that falling in one particular way could sever my spinal cord or shatter my leg is NOT something that will help me sleep at night.
  3. Did you buy a [insert technical jargon here]? You don’t want to look like a rookie!
    Right now, I’ve got enough to think about. Does my butt look hilarious in these padded pants (not important but it’s a thought)? Why does my right heel keep clipping the pedal mechanism? Uh oh, here comes an obstacle. My fingers are freezing, I really need gloves… etc. Anyone who can’t already tell that I’m a rookie needs their eyesight checked and I don’t need to be worrying about that as well.
  4. So, where’s your lycra?
    That’s just not funny. But if you must know, it’s at home, with my running gear because I don’t wear that stuff to work.
  5. You’ll be fine, it’s just like riding a bike!
    Hahahaha, I see what you did there, Very nice, you rapscallion you. So funny and topical etc. No one forgets how to ride a bike, right? Well no they don’t, but that doesn’t mean they feel confident in their skills and don’t wobble around like crazy.

Do you ride a bike? What was your learning experience like? Care to add to my list of what not to say?