I love taking on a new challenge.  It’s one of my super powers.  Completing, following through and clean up of tasks are not my strengths, but that’s for another story.

Today, I want to talk about that sense of excitement when you start a new grade at school or move up a difficulty level in Sudoku or begin a new job.  I usually go in with a healthy amount of confidence and maybe a bit too much bravado.  I can do this new thing.  I’ve convinced someone that I can do the new thing.  I’m ready to do the new thing, with ease.

But that’s not life. Just because you’ve graduated from the past does not mean you have the skills or the knowledge to handle the future yet.  You will, of course handle it, but there will be bumps and bruises, set-backs, total failures and enough success to keep you hanging on.

I learned this, again, this past week.

As you know, I bought a new bicycle two weeks ago.  This story really isn’t about cycling, though.

It’s about Discovery

It’s about growing.

It’s about taking that next step.

It’s about losing your confidence .

It’s about realizing that what you thought you knew, doesn’t mean much now.

it’s about facing new challenges and trying to find the fun you thought you would be having by now.

It’s about pushing past your limits and having the floor drop out from under you.

It’s about heading out into a new frontier for which you thought you were prepared and having the pathway disappear over the next mountain.

Here’s the Story…

The first week on the bike was pretty good.  It is so lightweight, easy to pedal, smooth in the glide.  At first it made everything about my old knobby-tired hybrid seem like it was the first wheeled vehicle crafted by man.

Susanne Spence Wilkins with her two bikes ready for taking on new adventures

There was one thing that old bike did, better than this new one, it hid all my imperfections.  Did I know how to shift? Not really, but it wasn’t obvious when I had to kick the chain rail into place with my foot to gear down.

On Saturday, I went for a ride that I thought would top out around 50 km.  About halfway, I noticed that my rear tire was very soft.  A walker that I passed by even called out to me, that my tire looked flat.  Yes.


I made it to my Mom & Dad’s house and with no tools to handle the new fangled nozzles on my new tubeless tire that is supposed to self-seal after any punctures,  I called for a rescue.  Once at home, I discovered that my bicycle pump did not have an adaptor for the new tire nozzles.  A late afternoon run to Canadian Tire, got me some nozzle adaptors, a new bottle carrier, and a new bell.

Back in the garage, we thought we had the tires pumped up.

Next morning, I planned to meet up with a friend and ride to Wallacetown to meet a group of cyclists from St. Thomas.  Getting ready at 8 am, I found my tires low on pressure again. So this time, Manfred helped me with the compressor and we pumped more than 50 psi into the tires.  And off I went.  At this above maximum air compacity, the tires were like riding on rock.  My hands were numb, my bum tender and my nerves a little strained.

Monday morning

I planned to ride the 50 km route from a couple of days previous.  Before heading out, we released some of the air from the tires to give them a little more grip and a little more bounce.  It felt good starting out, but after about 10 km, I could feel the tires softening under me.  I tried to pump the rear tire while standing on the side of the road, but to no avail.  The pump just would not connect with the new nozzles.


I went home. Frustrated with the effort of taking on a new challenge.

The Next Day

I called the bike store.  No problem, bring it in tomorrow and we have your new handlebars you ordered.

After the call, I filled up my tires and rode my bike to the Crazy 8 Barn & Garden.  After work, against my better judgement and to avoid a horrendous head wind, I rode home on Highway 3.  It was after 6 pm and not very busy.  I try to avoid the highway, because some people in cars can be very inconsiderate, even endangering, to cyclists.  My first indication that near death was imminent was an oncoming transport truck was blaring its horn as it came towards me.  Past experience has taught me that this means a vehicle approaching from the rear is about to hit you.

Unfortunately, that day, the gravel shoulders of the highway had been graded and the gravel was loose and thick,  I thought if I pulled off, I would sink into the stones and possibly cause a worse accident.  So, I clung to the edge of the pavement and a little white car zoomed between me and the transport – three abreast.  I sort of waved at the car driver.

Still alive, I pedaled on.  Then a pick up truck, travelling much faster than the speed limit, whizzed past me.  While they weren’t as close as the earlier car, the blast of air unbalanced me and I sunk into the shoulder and careened towards the ditch.  At the edge of the grass, there was a deep, sharp gouge from the grading. I hit the little wall head on, flipped off my bike and slid into the grass. Ouch, the pain of taking on a new challenge.

Everything I had Learned

in the past 60 years of bicycling came back to me.

1.  Hold on as long as you can.
2.  Always aim for the grass.
3.  Look cool, even in pain.
4. Every year, the wipe-outs hurt a little bit more.

At the bike store, I learned a lot more about taking on a new challenge of trying to conquer a new cycling level .

  • Tubeless tires and their inner sealant goop take some time to set
  • Tires may need to be inflated once a week.
  • Sealant should be checked every six to eight months
  • A good stand up tire pump or compressor is essential.
  • Owner’s Manual may be printed from the website
I can’t tell you how the bike is handling as those thunderstorms this week have stalled my riding, But, I love that I am at a new level, learning new things.  I’m discovering that confidence and skill can be enhanced by a shake up of challenges and lessons.
If you are taking on a new challenge that includes the pies and good local cooking at Tall Tales in Wallacetown, Ontario, find out more here.