You know the old adage…”its just like riding a bike”…right, well that saying doesn’t so much work for me.
Let me explain.
When I was little, like most kids, I owned a bike. My first “big girl” bike was pink and I learned how to ride it at the Firehouse around the corner from where I lived. After a few years I grew out of that bike and bought a really cool blue 10 speed. In middle school I got an even cooler bike…a 12 speed! One day, when a girl too big for my bike was riding it despite the fact, she bent the rim and I could no longer ride the bike. Obviously this was much more horrible for her than me, but still….I was out a bike. And I never bothered to get it fixed and I never bought a new one…until last year when I decided to do a Tri. And it was like starting over. And given that I was never very bike savvy to begin with, I had a long road ahead of me. Loooonnnnnnggggggg.
The thing is, even though I owned bikes growing up and at one point even mastered the “no hands” technique, I was always hesitant to ride on busy streets or go too fast. I never felt quite right, or comfortable, on the bike. I would have much preferred to walk places and, unless we were specifically going for a bike ride, I usually chose that option. In addition, the town I grew up in is really small (read: 2.5 sq miles of land and @ 3,500 total population) and getting to a friends house, even the ones that lived the furthest from me, didn’t necessarily require a bike. Although it was a faster mode of transportation, I never minded just walking.
I still don’t mind just walking. However, in a Tri it’s swim-bike-run, not swim-walk-run.
It was late fall when I first started thinking about a Tri, but I didn’t commit to the idea until after the first of the year. When I started telling people they were exicted but most of them, at some point questions my bike riding skills. The questions ranged from “When did you last ride a bike?” to “Do you own a bike?” to my favorite, “Do you even know how to ride a bike?” The answers were as follows: 13 years, no and I’m not sure.
But I was about to find out.
Since it was January and I had zero intentions of riding a bike in the cold, I put off the purchase pretty much until I could no longer put it off. I had decided to just go with a regular bike, nothing fancy or expensive just in case I ended up hating the bike and therefore hating Tri’s. It took a few trips to a few different stores and a lot of my mom’s patience, but finally I found a bike that I thought could work. When I finally found the bike I liked (and by liked I mean it was pretty and I could sit on it without panicking) I felt slightly better about riding. Until I went for my first bike ride, if you can even call it that. I was a biking mess. I made it around the block twice and then entire time I was petrified of falling and would only stop up against a curb where I could put my feet out to help me stop. Real professional, huh? What I needed was some Biking for Dummies, but instead I just didn’t ride for a few weeks as if it would come to me in my sleep. Clearly this plan was not working. I eventually came to my senses and with about a month until race time I bit the bullet and got back on the bike. I don’t think I ever went more than 5 miles and I definitely never went fast, but I went. And I survived. And with very little practice, the race came and it was go time whether I was ready or not.
And I wasn’t.
The bike portion of my race could only be summed up sufficiently as a disaster. A disaster by the way, that I still have trouble talking about. Maybe in another post. Just take my word for it- it sucked. I sucked. But I finished and I survived.
And I am back for more.
I saved up and with some help from my parents, I went out and bought a new road bike. A bike that from the first second I rode, I was comfortable on. I love my new bike. It isnt that I hated my old bike, or even didn’t like it…I just never felt quite right on it. It didn’t fit me well and wasn’t suitable for long term anyway. I rode my new bike more in the first two weeks I owned it than I did the entire time I had my old bike. I still go fairly slow and I still carry a fear of falling but my confidence level is so much higher. I am so ready for my race next weekend and even though I am sure I’ll be nervous on the bike, I also believe I will do well. Just another sign of how far I have come.
Below are two pics from last year.
This first one is right when I arrived. Notice, the bike is a Schwinn. Here is something you might not know about Schwinns…they weight like 98427239lbs! Holy cow! Getting that bike on and off the rack was insane and I am really glad I only had to do it once for a race. My new bike is so light I can carry it with one hand.
This second one is just as I approach bike dismount. Don’t let the smile fool you, I plastered it on my face to keep from crying. In my head I am thinking “thank god this is over…holy crap I still have to run!”