The Jersey.

Benoît Vaugrenard (Tour de France 2007, 13e et...

In the cold winter months, I strip off the layers of clothes I’ve worn for my run and there lies a whole load of laundry on the floor. I exaggerate – but, only a little.

On the 8th day of spring there was 8″ of snow on the ground. There’s still snow on both sides of the road that’s been cut through the mountain by my house.

Since early March I’ve been writing “cross training” into my little red calendar in hopes that one day that would mean “bike”. Today it did mean bike – but the one downstairs that plugs into the wall.

It’s only been 2 years since I rode a real bike for the very first time. The guy at the bike shop suggested I take it for a quick ride down the street before I brought it home. I was so nervous that I would wreck it – or fall over, heaven forbid, and embarrass myself half to death. But I survived a very short test ride, paid my money and brought that shiny new bike home. Well, it was a used bike but new to me just the same. I loved that new bike.

On my first ride, I was so nervous I walked back up the drive and told my husband I didn’t think I could do it. I was afraid I would fall, afraid I couldn’t make it up the first hill. I was afraid.

He pulled an old bike from the garage and without even changing out of his jeans, he rode with me that first time. We made it to the top of the first hill and turned around and flew back down to the driveway. I had made it. I didn’t fall, and although it was hard going up that hill, I had survived.

I didn’t survive every hill at first, resorting to walking my bike part way up at times. Eventually, I got stronger and rode that bike everywhere.

It’s like when you’re pregnant, you notice how many other pregnant women there are. Once I started riding, I noticed every other cyclist in town. I would watch them ride by in their beautiful, colorful jerseys.

I started riding down to Kung Fu class twice a week and back up the mountain to my house after class, arriving home just before dark. Sometimes I’d pass another female cyclist traveling on the opposite side of the road. She wore one of the helmets with the long pointed end like you see the guys wear in the Tour de France. She looked so cool. And there were guys riding the same road as me with their bright colorful jerseys. They seemed better riders maybe even because of those jerseys.

I saw the jerseys at the bike shop, but I’m not one to pay full retail price for anything. So I waited and waited – but these jerseys don’t go on sale. Until one day I’m checking out a new Road ID bracelet online and there, would you believe, was a cycling jersey on sale! I hesitated for only a second wondering if I was good enough to wear the colors of a true cyclist. Then, yes…I hit BUY and found the jersey in my shopping cart.

The day before the jersey was to ship I get this email saying there had been a mistake and my jersey was on backorder. This is ok – it’s the middle of the winter and I have time yet.

Finally, there is a yellow ticket in the post office box – what I know means a package is behind the counter with my name. I must wait two more days before I can stop by and ask for the package but there it is with the Road ID logo and I knew what this was already.

The package waited on the front seat all the way home. Normally I would have torn into it there in the post office but this was special – a package to be treasured. Once home, I carefully opened the envelope and pulled out the jersey.

I have always been a small person. My younger sister wore my sweater in her kindergarten class picture – it was the sweater I wore in 5th grade. The uniforms issued for gym class or basketball hung on me like I was too young and ill prepared to compete.

My new cycling jersey – it fits just right. With its long zipper in front and the deep pockets in back, I have arrived. And if ever a uniform can make you feel special, prepared, competitive – I am this.