Those of you that only know me from the blog-o-sphere might not know that when I started the wonderful sport of triathlon, I wasn’t a big fan of the bike.
To be perfectly honest, the thought of riding around Southwest Florida with all the snowbirds and tourists on two skinny wheels scared the bejeezus out of me. Our community has also seen some horrific accidents and unfortunately deaths of cyclists, which did nothing for my mental outlook. But the HB loves to ride. So, I sucked it up and purchased a used road bike from a friend of mine 3 years ago.
Those first few rides were traumatic. The HB dragged me out for close to two hours each time, got frustrated that I rode like “beach cruising tourist” and didn’t teach me anything about gearing, weighting, or other riding skills. Since I never had a ten speed as a kid (I grew up with a BMX bike with pegs on the back) you can imagine how utterly clueless and frustrated I was.
First Tri – that nervous face is all bike fear
So when I decided last year that I was going to tackle my first triathlon I knew I had to get over my fear of the bike. I also knew I need to do it with a group of either a) beginners or b) really patient ‘experts.’ I am thankful everyday that I found the ladies of Team Physiofit. Coach Jen and Pat not only taught me about gearing, group riding kills, and how to change a tire but my sistas would patiently ride with me, talk me through my fears, and give me a boost when I needed it. I haven’t cried on a ride with the HB since – in fact last year I blew past him on a training ride. He hasn’t ridden with me since.
Second Tri – a little better but still nervous
This year has been a lot of ups and downs for me. The constant through it all was that I wanted to get better on the bike. At first I thought that meant just getting faster. But as I started working on finding speed, I realized the problem was I didn’t really know how to ride. I understood conceptually changing gears to keep cadence and weighting to round turns and other skills but when it came down to execution, I constantly over thought the process. I would lose the speed I had gained by not changing gears at the right time, slowing down too much on a turn, etc. So, I changed my game plan. Did I want to get faster of course! But I also wanted to learn to just go. And I finally did it!
Team Physiofit had a practice triathlon two weekends ago where I had the best ride ever! It wasn’t nearly as fast as I wanted but the stars finally aligned. I was the first one out of the water and off on the bike. I decided as I pulled out on to the road that I was going to keep my cadence as steady as I could, take the turns the way I had practiced and ‘race the bike.’ I had to tell myself that meant not fighting the wind or any other elements and if that meant I was burnt for the run then so be it.
Not a happy camper – focusing on the run rather than the ride
Well, I wasn’t burnt on the run (it was a terrible run but that’s a story for another day). I managed to maintain my first place position for over half of the ride and I only dropped into 3rd because Kim and CHill caught me at the stop lights. It made me elated to hear the first words out of CHill’s mouth “Damn girl, I didn’t think I would catch you!” Both Kim and CHill are the fastest riders on our team, with consistent 20+ rides.
I now fully understand why people say they would rather ride than run. I can now say that I am one with my bike and I love it! I was so excited last weekend to get out on my bike and do it all over again. I logged another decent ride – the flat tire in the middle wasn’t helpful. I am actually looking forward to “winter” so I can keep making progress. Next up – finding a longer distance charity ride to work toward!
Sharing the Bike Love