My New Sport - Cycling

A Long Time Ago:

My first bike was a $450 mountain bike I bought in college that didn't fit right, but sure was a pretty purple and black color. I remember being so proud of my research and purchase, visions of hitting the trails and being the cool chick. Not to be. I'm too scared of falling to mountain bike. Sure, I gave it the old college try, and after walking most of an easy dirt trail (more than once), decided that it was not for me. I kept trying, and would ride the bike around town occasionally, even riding a 6-mile hill climb a few times. That was the extent of it. By the time we sold the mountain bike, the tires were barely worn and most of it still looked shiny-new 15 years after I bought it.

S is an avid mountain biker and sometimes road cyclist. The guy loves rocks and switchbacks. I know, right?! I am constantly in awe of the control and balance he has on a bike. For years, we hemmed and hawed over whether to get me a road bike. I didn't show a whole lot of enthusiasm (see heavy mountain bike that sucked on pavement) for biking, and so every season passed without a purchase.

Three Years Ago:

With the arrival of X, I realized that having exercise I could get just by walking out the door of my house might be a good idea. At a big tent sale, we bought me an entry-level road bike. I refused to get clipless pedals, citing my fear of falling over. I bought a new helmet, a couple pairs of mountain biking shorts (cause really, who wants to wear those tight roadie shorts?), and a couple biking jerseys. 

The first time I rode my bike, I fell in love with the feeling of flying, finally realizing the fun of riding a bike built to go. The first year consisted of short rides, max 20 miles, on bike paths. I would crow to S every time I increased my mileage slightly, relishing in the newfound activity that was fun.

Two Years Ago:

Spring rolled around, and I decided I needed a challenge. There's a cycling festival in early June that's near S's parents house. With three distances to choose from (32 mile, 62 mile, 100 mile), I thought it would be fun if we both did it. He agreed and promptly signed up for the 100 miles (century). Ha. I went for the 32, after all it would be the furthest I had ever ridden. We had the added advantage of staying with S's parents 3 miles from the start. That year, I rode 38 miles, and was officially bitten by the cycling bug. After that ride, I declared, "Next year I'm doing a century". It helped that my competitive juices got a'flowin' after finding out my cousin and her husband did a century ride. If they can do it, I can do it!

Present Day:

After my declaration to S, he bought us a Christmas gift. Our very own bike trainer, and set it up in the basement with my bike firmly attached. The idea was that, to get ready for my first big ride of the season of 62 miles in early June at the same cycling festival, I should start riding while the snow flew. I managed a few rides, staring at episodes of Brooklyn Nine Nine or Castle to get me through the mind-numbing boringness of riding a trainer. This was occurring simultaneously with my maternity leave with Baby Z, and I was attempting to hop on the bike during his short naps. 

The big tent sale in the spring rolled around again. I was a serious cyclist now, man. I needed some new gear! Enter new jerseys, cycling pants for cold weather, a cold weather jersey, cold weather gloves, and yes, the spandex roadie shorts.

I started to realize how much trouble I had getting my foot in and out of the toe clips even though I kept them loose, and they were sadly inefficient because of that. I couldn't stand in my pedals for hills, and I had come close to falling over more than once because I couldn't get my foot out fast enough. Enter the clipless pedals and bonafide cycling shoes. After some back and forth, buying one pair and returning for another pair, I opted for mountain bike shoes rather than road shoes. But, not just any mountain bike shoes, the top of the line brand (on sale, but still) as recommended by the bike store guy (BSG) selling shoes to a neophyte. (think he knew the fool he was dealing with?) Fitting the shoes was eerily familiar. It reminded me of getting fit for pointe shoes back in my ballet days. First my foot was measured, then their shape studied, then a certain type of shoe recommended based on the shape. (riiiiight). I spent several visits bringing my bike back and forth to the shop for fitting. The first thing the BSG told me to do was buy a new saddle. And so, I did. And I am eternally grateful for his recommendation*. Then, he tweaked the pedals for my new shoes, adjusted my handlebars, and adjusted my new saddle. 

I was off and training!

*if you ever buy a road bike, townie bike, or hybrid bike, I highly recommend the Terry saddles. Holy cow did that ever make a difference on my poor little butt!