Sunday, June 6, 2010
It's been a hard day's night (bike), and I've been working like a dog!
But this week wasn't all sparkles and snackies. I did my first night bike tour. My blood pressure has finally gone back to normal nearly 48 hours later. Who knew leading bike tours could be more stressful than selling software? It was Friday night - and the traffic was absolutely totally and completely nuts. Leading a pack of bikers down major streets may sound simple, but keeping the group safe and together is quite a balancing act. I'm constantly yelling back - stick together...or, dig deep and pedal faster! I told my group that all the buses and cars honking at us had no malicious intent but instead really just saying - welcome to France! And that one special finger they point at us as we block the road, well they're just saying Fat Tire Bike Tours is #1! I knew it was going to be a long five hours when just a few minutes into the ride I had a lady fall off her bike. Completely. Her English was only slightly better than my Mandarin so a language barrier only made things more convoluted.
In addition to having riders who couldn't actually ride, my tour was also plagued with two chains falling off, one tire rubbing that had to be fixed (actually Andrew, a veteran guide, came to my rescue for this mechanical operation) and a woman whose brakes did not work. An hour in to the ride and I was completely covered in grease and sweat. I switched bikes with the woman with the non-functioning brakes - which was complicated by the fact that I was also hauling eight bottles of wine, two heavy bike locks, cords, tools, first aid kit and several other items in two saddle bags on my bike. So going down a ramp with nothing but my toes to break was a wee bit daunting. The boats were off schedule so instead of catching a 10:30 boat we caught an 11pm, which means it was well after midnight before our final ride back to the shop. As I was handling out bikes after the boat ride I told everyone just to wait with their bikes...blah blah...and then we'd get going. The same lady who fell off earlier got on her bike and just started pedaling, in the wrong direction. I mean really, was this happening? I was starting to wonder if she was a mean prank, like I was being hazed on my first night bike. She didn't make it very far, because she let her bungee cord dangle in the bike and get caught in the chain. I was going to just lock up her bike, give her mine and me run the last mile back to the office alongside the tour (that's a standard M.O. when things go wrong at the end of a tour). Luckily, I had two valiant men on my tour that were determined to dislodge the cord and did so successfully. About 12:30am we made it back to Fat Tire. Everyone had a great time, and everyone made it back in one piece so all things considered it was still a success.
I know things will get easier. The day bike and Segway tours are easy for me now. I have four night bikes in a row next week. Tuesday is my first "triple crown" which means I'm giving 3 tours totally 16 hours straight - no break. I'm confident that by next weekend night bike will become routine. This job is very physical. My legs are covered in bruises. And when I say covered, that's no exaggeration. I also have a lovely cut/bruise combination on my shin but it's not a battle scar from a tour. Nope, it's from tripping and falling flat on my face around midnight walking up the escalator at the metro station with a water bottle in one hand and my iPod in the other other. It was one of those 12+ hour work days and my legs rebelled. The bruises are a nice complement to my black mechanic hands. I'm definitely getting both tougher and dirtier with each passing day.
Today is my first day off work since arriving in Paris and I've been completely lazy. Walking from my bedroom to my kitchen is the farthest I've gone...and I'm loving it. I'm going to bed early tonight and will be geared up tomorrow for more adventures on my tours....and praying for no flat tires.