Tuesday, March 24, 2015

My first bike ride

I find it interesting that, according to all the reading I’ve done on the sport, most triathletes name the run or swim portion as their weakest link, whereas bicycling is my weakest by far. I’m not great at swimming but do it fairly regularly and survived my first open water swim, which was GRUELING, last October. I read books and watch videos and work on my form in every lap.

Of course you know I run a lot. I picked up running with the Hash House Harriers of South Korea in 2010 and have run scores of races since then, including three half marathons, a 15-mile Spartan Beast, and two 10k trail races over soul-crushing, lung-scorching hills. I have 40 medals hanging on my wall—one of which is second-place for my age group in a 5k last year—and a trophy on my office desk for placing third in a 10k last May. An entire wall in my bedroom is covered in race t-shirts and race-bib collages, and not every race I’ve run gave out swag at all.
Biking is kind of hard and scary, though.

I didn’t learn to ride without training wheels until I was 12 and wasn’t allowed to ride alone until I was 15 or 16, so I pretty much never rode. It wasn’t until my early 20s that I ever braved city streets, and I was in a bind without a working car to get to work, choosing instead to huff and puff slowly through town on a mountain bike for a few weeks, even awkwardly falling once because drivers are terrible. Luckily, I guess, it really only hurt my pride.

And then I didn’t ride for six years until I got my first road bike last week.

Sunday I managed to go out for my first extended ride on my new bicycle, having only taken it around the block once when I picked it up. I’m a complete novice to road bicycles entirely, which made me SUPER nervous, anxious, and all-around terrified of falling and injury.
I started in my neighborhood and then braved a few medium-busy roads, which were not busy on a Sunday afternoon, and I rode confidently in the center of the left lane so no one would even have the chance to try to pass by in the same lane. I flew down a gentle hill without swearing and almost enjoyed the exhilaration of it before turning up a new street and plodding steadily uphill. I took a short break at the top to catch my breath since I’d not brought water for what was intended to be a short ride.

Only one asshole driver cut me off, but I was paying close attention and being cautious enough to cuss at her loudly and continue unhurt. Seriously, she could not possibly have failed to see me riding in the center of the lane in a screaming neon green t-shirt and hot pink helmet, fucking jerk.

I rode 5 miles in 30 minutes and am hoping that adrenaline and greater confidence will push me a bit faster at next Sunday's sprint triathlon so I can complete the 12.6-mile bike portion in close to an hour. The weather was glorious, my legs felt strong, and I think I actually enjoyed myself despite the constant high-anxiety state. Also, padded bike shorts are truly divine.

I don’t see myself excelling in the sport most likely to result in death and dismemberment, but the most expensive hurdle has been cleared, and at least I believe now that I can finish a triathlon.

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