Your Bike Is Calling Your Name
You know the bike that’s in your garage? Yeah, you know the one. It’s the one that’s hanging upside down and taunting you every time you park your vehicle. Well, it’s summer and it’s time to dust that bike off. It’s time to sit down and RIDE!
I know the concerns you have because I have them too. I got my very first road bike for my birthday last October and it promptly snowed. Was I secretly thankful? Maybe. All winter my bike was there reminding me that when it finally did warm up I was likely to be flat on my back at the first stop if I forgot about those clipless pedals. It was reminding me that either the right brake or the left brake was the better one to use on a steep downhill grade. Which one was it though? How about those gears… all of them! Would I ever really figure them out? Let’s not forget traffic! Yikes! Vehicles zooming by and I don’t know the hand signals and what if drivers are texting and never even see me until…
Yes. There are a lot of “what ifs.”
There are also just as many “so whats!”
I would never figure it out if I never got on my bike. The same goes for you.
So here it is… an invitation from your two-wheeled friend.
Find A Buddy. I started talking about wanting to ride my new bike and suddenly I found a lot of people who were also putting off riding. My neighbor Krista hadn’t been on her bike in two years. She was happy to get back on and show me the ropes and I wasn’t too concerned about my complete rookie-ness holding her back. She mapped out a 13-mile ride, which seemed reasonable.
Ride Your Bike. Guess what? Riding 13 miles was much easier than running 13 miles. Even my heart rate monitor agreed. I was impressed by the amazing efficiency of this machine!
Register for an Event. The following week Krista and I scheduled a 26-mile ride, a good distance since I have a triathlon coming up in July with a 26-mile cycling portion. Yes, I registered for a triathlon when I had not yet been on my road bike. Talk about motivation to get cycling. Registering for an event will get you on your bike.
Register for Another Event That Makes A Difference. Later that week, while feeling especially optimistic, I registered for the MS 150, a two-day ride that benefits the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Only after registering did I learn that my team was not planning on riding 150 miles over two days, they were planning on 175 miles over two days (just breathe). Later that week our MS 150 team “Saddle Soar” knocked out a 36-mile ride. I was feeling pretty good, even though I still didn’t have the confidence to drink from my water bottle while actually in motion. When I forgot to start my heart rate monitor I didn’t dare attempt to push that tiny watch button while still cycling. I didn’t know how to change a flat. I was definitely the “weakest link” and I was pleasantly surprised at how supportive everyone was.
Participate in a Supported Ride. Having only three rides under my belt and the MS 150 coming up in a few weeks, I wanted to experience a supported ride and I didn’t have much time. Little Red Riding Hood, an all women ride, had come highly recommended and had been on my calendar, but registration had quickly closed at 3000 participants. Luckily, two days prior to the ride a registration ticket fell into my lap! This ticket was for 58 miles and that felt just about right for my fourth ride.
Ride With People Who Inspire You. The night before Little Red Riding Hood my friend Stephanie said, “You know Rachel, if you can ride 36 miles you can ride 80.” I questioned this philosophy, but Stephanie, who has tackled a number of century rides (that’s 100 miles) and even took on LOTOJA (206 miles in one day), was adamant. “No really, if you can ride 36 miles you can ride 80.” Stephanie and her friend Judy were both planning on riding 80 miles and they were considering 100 miles.
“Ok, I’ll try for 80.” Mostly I didn’t want to commit because… well… what if something hurt… like REALLY hurt. My muscles might cramp up. I might crash. If everything went smoothly I would do 80 miles, and by “smoothly” I meant that I didn’t want to suffer through it and I wasn’t willing to hurt myself.
The weather was perfect. The ride was beautiful! Farmlands, rolling hills, snowcapped mountains, bright blue skies and white fluffy clouds were awe-inspiring. “Wow, this is beautiful! Wow!”
Around mile 56 I got a flat tire. There were plenty of volunteers in SAG wagons watching for this very thing. Within two minutes a red pick-up truck was by my side and a friendly volunteer changed my flat.
By the time I arrived at the place where the 80-mile and the 100-mile routes split some interesting logic had been going through my mind. Trust me, four hours on a bike allows for a lot of thinking time. 100 miles suddenly seemed reasonable! Why stop at 80 when I was only 20 miles away from completing my first century?
Somehow it seemed easier to just ride 100 today… and that’s what I did.
My fourth ride. My first century!
I did not wake up on Saturday morning thinking that I was going to ride 100 miles that day. I can honestly say I couldn’t have done it… and sure wouldn’t have done it without Steph and Judy.
And guess what? I can now start my heart rate monitor while riding, though I still haven’t dared to drink from my water bottle without stopping first.
Can’t you just hear your bike calling your name?