Becoming a Gear Girl

“I think I can. I think I can. I think I can. I know I can.” 
– Little Engine That Could

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Hello My Lovelies!

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend, especially all the moms out there!  I had an unexpectedly prolonged weekend due to be home sick from work on Thursday.  That means I have been off from work for almost a week… Unfortunately, I spent more than half that time too sick to move from bed or the couch.  I know!  It was a total bummer and definitely threw a wrench in my training plans.  The good news is, I still made it to our Tri Club Brick and BBQ with the hubs.

So here is the thing about that…  Back when the hubs was in the Marines, he decided on a whim that he was going to do a Half Ironman (IM).  Mind you, this was before he ever owned a bike.  His training consisted of borrowing a bike from a friend and doing some swimming.  Of course, he finished without a problem.

Fast forward a few years, and here I am almost 9 months into training (including learning to swim and bike), and I still don’t feel prepared enough to meet the time qualifiers.  Why?  Because I am not where I need to be with my cycling.  This is something I have been aware of, however it became more abundantly clear at the duathlon… and even more so this weekend.

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Now granted, I went into our group ride this weekend still under the weather, and most definitely dehydrated and short on calories.  The hubs also skipped out on a real breakfast, but a 30 mile ride is a walk in the park for his cycling-loving-self.  I have read in triathlon books that people who do Full IMs average 17-18 mph on the bike portion.  Up until this weekend, I had no concept really of just how fast that is.  Then our group ride started… and I was left in the dust.  I am not exaggerating when I tell you I was literally last.  I did actually catch up with two people in front of me, but the rest of the group was not even within viewing distance for the rest of the ride (aside from when they all pulled over and waited at the first few intersections… yeah, that didn’t last long).

I have to be honest when I tell you it was somewhat demoralizing.  While I understand I am still a newbie cyclist, I have been on other group rides where I was not utterly annihilated by the rest of the riders.  These people, on the other hand, were completely out of my league.  Thankfully, the only two people I could keep up with were a married couple I knew from my swim class.  However, even they were light-years ahead of me on every downhill due to my over generous utilization of my brakes.  Did I mention I was the only one actually using them?  I repeat, Out Of My League.

 

ImageAt least the view was pretty!

I was incredibly grateful to Tammy (the wife of the couple, who I happen to know better from our traumatic experience in beginner’s swimming) for keeping pace with me to chat for a while and waiting at intersections to make sure I wasn’t lost.  There was also a more experienced rider from the group who periodically circled back to make sure we were all ok, and I was beyond appreciative of her as well.  (She even gave me tips on climbing the hills, and was incredibly patient with my slow-as-heck self. God Bless her!)

In all honesty, if it had not been for Tammy, I probably would have broken down in tears.  The ride was by no means an easy one, and the descents were nerve-fryingly, white knuckled, terrifying.  The roads were wet which did not help my fears, and my husband was somewhere off in the front of the pack leaving me in the dust along with everyone else.

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More beautiful scenery as consolation…

I kept telling myself that I am not a bad cyclist, I am an inexperienced cyclist.  I also reminded myself how terrible I was when I first started swimming.  At least no one was kicking me off the route!  Instead, I heard only words of encouragement.  After all, I was the only newbie cyclist out on that loop, and it consisted of a lot of killer hills.  Here I was sick, dehydrated, and alone (for at least a good part of it), and I didn’t break down or quit.  I stuck with it- even when I got super dizzy and light-headed.  I drank from my water bottle, took some cliff bloks, and got back to pedaling.

I am pleased to report that I only toppled over once due to bumping a curb on my way up a steep hill.  I also had one near miss, but was able to correct myself.  I finished behind every other cyclist, but I finished… and I wasn’t far behind my back of the pack buddies.  The hubs and the more advanced riders finished a full 20 minutes ahead of us… which I suppose isn’t too bad considering it was a 30 mile ride.  Their average speed was in the 17-18 mph range, which consisted of riding between 40 and almost 60 mph down the hills (Um, no thank you...)  I headed off on my run just elated to have survived (I think I exclaimed something to the effect of “Yea! I feel so much safer!”).  Meanwhile, the hubs skipped his run and took a nap instead of finishing the “brick”.

I suppose when you achieve celebrity status with the Tri Club for your superior cycling talent, the run isn’t necessary.  That’s right, my super shy and antisocial hubs is now Mr. Popular.  Apparently when you ride in a group there’s a lot of chatting that goes on.  I suppose I would know these things if I actually rode fast enough to keep up with other people…  Can you believe he is already friends on Strava with all of them?  One bike ride, and they are all BFFs.  Go figure.  I guess that’s what happens when you put a bunch of like minded, uber competitive, cycling fanatics together.  How did I not see this coming?

What’s better is he even impressed Coach M and kicked her butt (her words) on the ride… though she admittedly likes the bike considerably less than the swimming and running.

In general, I have to say that I am pretty happy for the hubs.  I do find it slightly ironic, though, that I am the one who dragged him into joining the YMCA and Tri Club with me; and now he is the popular one and I’m struggling (and failing miserably) to keep up.  I guess that just means I have more work to do.

The good news is, I am getting the hang of bike maintenance a lot faster than the actual riding.  I currently am able to de-grease and re-lube my chain.  Plus, I now know how to get my wheels on and off to get all the nooks and crannies clean.  The hubs even taught me how to floss my cassette with a rag to get it extra clean.  Oh! And he happened to puncture one of his tires on the ride, so I got extra practice on changing flats.  Pretty soon I think I will be at the point where I can do these things all on my own without the hubs for supervision. 😉

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I biked today and lived! And I’m still smiling!

Today I spent the morning doing P90X chest and back, and then took some more time getting used to my bike.  I spent 30 minutes focusing on starting, stopping, coasting, balancing on one foot, letting go of one hand, starting and stopping on hills, and then I tried to practice climbing the really steep hill next to my house…  I had to stop when I started freaking my neighbors out with my wipe outs.  So instead I came in and did another 14 miles on the bike trainer… in 80 degree heat and humidity.  Can you say good time?

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So sexy… I know you’re jealous…

It wasn’t glamourous, but I got it done.  The way I figure, any time I spend on my bike is better than nothing!   My next task (other than getting generally comfortable) is to start familiar with some of the nearby triathlon courses.  In fact, I already mapped the REV 3 Half IM course in Map My Ride… I know it’s ambitious, but I figure I can do sections of it at a time and work up to the whole 56 miles.  Hopefully. it shouldn’t take too long to get there.

That’s all I have to share for now.  I hope you all are off to a terrific start to your week!  My goal for this week is to survive work and continue to work toward becoming one with my bike.  What are you hoping to accomplish?

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3 comments

  1. I feel you on this, girl. I signed up for a half-IM in September, and while I feel totally confident that I can do the run and the swim (which is still weird to me, that I can easily swim 1.2 miles in a lake, wtf), the bike really freaks me out. I get so panicked because of the clip-in pedals! So after I recover from my ultra, I’m planning to spend the summer getting super comfortable with the bike, and every time I start to get down on myself for not being fast or whatever, I’ll just remember to frame it like you did, so that it’s not about me being a bad cyclist but about me being inexperienced.

  2. I identify with you so, so much. I rarely ride with others because it’s too demoralizing. Still hoping I can find away to get better without other people 😉

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