Sunday, May 23, 2010

Cycling 101

My first triathlon is scheduled for August 1st. Whenever I think of getting in the open water with hundreds of athletes, my palms start sweating and my heart starts racing. I'm looking forward to kicking my fear of being underwater to the curb but petrified I might panic in the water and either quit or drown before I walk through the Red Bull finish line waiting at the water's edge. And that's just the swim portion.

Theoretically, I've been training for the bike portion of the tri at the gym. Every other day I sit on the incumbent bike (the one with a comfy back rest) and I mildly pedal for 30 minutes while I read my Bible. I often break a sweat some time in the last ten minutes and while the bike says I pedal 11 miles with little effort, I know it's lying. I figure the organizers of my tri most likely will NOT have an incumbent bike in the transition area for me to sit, read and ride, so buying a bike was in the cards. The when and where was undecided.

A month ago, Curt and I went to Performance Bike and got a crash course in cycling. He's been doing triathlons for three years on a very basic bike and was looking to upgrade to a race bike. I nearly choked at how much road bikes costs but once I pounded my heart into beating regularly again, my job for that scouting trip was to wrangle the kids. We prayed about to buy or not buy for the past month and this weekend went back to Performance Bike without the kids to potentially buy these bikes.

The sales associate pulled out bike after bike after bike for me to "try." I'd get on and very timidly wobble out the front door of the store and pedal up and down the sidewalk in the rain. After the sixth bike I "tried," he asked me for my thoughts. I just looked at him with a blank stare and said, "I wish I knew what to say. I like the color of this one and the squishy seat on that one. What are all these cables and brakes and handle bars for and how do I shift gears?" We are talking bottom of the barrel in cycling knowledge here. I definitely need a Cycling 101 crash course... Finally, when I was good and soaked from numerous trips up the sidewalk in the rain we decided on a bike. Apparently the one I thought was the cutest was also the best fit. They even swapped out the non-squishy seat for the super squishy seat from Reject #1.

Did you know there is a whole section in the bike store for pedals? If you're a serious cyclist, you buy special cycling shoes that clip into your fancy pedals. You have to know how to clip them in and out quickly though or you crash when you try to stop. (Curt forewarned me on this one due to personal experience.) Since I bought my "current" bike 13 years ago when no one knew what a bike helmet was, I have never owned a bike helmet. The selection was staggering. I picked the cheapest one from the clearance table and then got another lesson in helmet safety and proper fit. There's a dial in the back to tighten and loosen the fit, straps to adjust up and down. Oy! My head was about to explode. We left the bike store much poorer but owners of two new bikes, a bike helmet, cycling shoes and fancy pedals. And just like that I have all the gear I need to do my tri.

I took my bike on her inaugural ride today. I did not use my fancy cycling shoes, which I regretted right around the tenth time my "campus pedal" flipped back over to the clip-in side and the huge bump on the pedal cut into the bottom of my running shoes. I don't have cycling pants, so Curt taped my yoga pants tight to my leg with masking tape so they wouldn't get stuck in the chain. I bailed off within the first half-mile because the pedal flipped over, threw me off balance, and I couldn't figure out how to downshift to get up a hill. I kept looking over my shoulder hoping no one I knew passed me because it was obvious this was my first time in a LONG time on a bike. I did eventually get the hang of it though and while I'm sure I looked like the novice I am, I actually enjoyed my little loop through wine country on a blustery, rainy day in Newberg. Next time I think I'll even try the clip-in shoes so watch for me in a pile on the side of the road.

1 comment:

  1. You are a brave woman, Jodi! Not feeling comfortable in the water, not familiar with pedal clips and changing gears on your new bike, etc.'re great to have set your goal to complete the triathlon even despite these "handicaps"! I wish you all the best as you train. I love biking and swimming but I hate running...but maybe you're inspiring me to give it another go once the baby is born :). --Faith