It’s hot tonight and my brain is scrambling to figure out what to write about here. My posts of 2014 have dwindled considerably. My last post was on tutus for goodness sake! What the what?
Frankly, I haven’t written because I feel like I haven’t done anything that is notable to write about. Which obviously is a self-defeating thought and a crock of sh*&. Clearly I have done some things because my year to date Strava profile shows over 600 miles of cycling and 30k feet of climbing. That’s something, right?
I just…well…I don’t have a “big” event this year.
And that’s ok.
A couple months ago my knee started getting cranky with me while running. I decided to cancel my Barb’s Race this year and take it easy on the running to avoid injuring it. Fortunately, it doesn’t bother my cycling.
The bike and I have an unusual relationship. I love my bike. I love thinking back about some of the amazing rides and sights I saw. But dagnabit, sometimes riding a bike gets me way out of my comfort zone. I also wish I was fast. Like Fast with a capitol “F.” I live in an area where if you go for a ride on a Sunday morning, chances are a pack of super fast road bikers will whiz past you.
I want to go to there.
Though don’t get me wrong—I have improved. Last week I rode the Barb’s race course with some friends. It was awesome not worrying about training for a big event and just enjoy 56 miles of biking. Well, as much as 56 miles can be enjoyed. At mile 43 the big climb started. For some reason I felt like attacking this climb because…well, I am not entirely sure why. And it felt fantastic. I think I have ridden that hill 8 times in the past 6 years and it has never felt that great. I didn’t even realize I hit the top!
And because I am a crazy woman I decided to ride a local century the following day. Well, technically 50 miles. That couldn’t take too long right? My friends Lisa and Jim met me at my house and we headed out for our ride. Getting back on the bike seat a day after riding 56 miles was not the best feeling in the world. I had ridden part of this route 2 years ago when I was training for Death Ride. 15 miles in, I was dying…we were riding up highway 9 and it was a never ending climb. I think in 20 miles we already climbed 3,000 feet. The 56 mile ride was barely 2000 feet of climbing. Holy hell it was hard and I thought to myself, “Toto we are not in Death Ride shape any more.”
We decided to cut the ride down to 40 miles which meant finding an alternate route. Our best alternate was Page Mill road, which I had never ridden down.
And oh em gee was it cray cray. (note to self: stop saying “omg” and “cray cray”…for reals now. And stop saying “for reals.” You were an English Major for goodness sakes!)
There is an episode of the HBO series Girls where the main character, Hannah, meets with an editor of an online magazine for a prospective freelance writing gig. The editor asks Hannah if she has seen her sign:
“Do you get it?” She asks Hannah.
“So, the magic happens outside of my comfort zone?”
Let me tell you, any time I ride down hill I am way out of my comfort zone. And Sunday’s downhill was far from magical.
I was a hot mess. The descent was crazy with sharp turns and lots of cars and no shoulders (Mom, if you are reading this, what I meant to write was, “It was a relaxing ride, and I rode 5 miles an hour and the road was closed to cars”). We took a turn on another steep road aptly named Moody because I could feel a full blown panic attack coming on. It’s always a weird feeling when you are on a steep downhill wanting to stop and your brain is like, “ I don’t know how to stop This does not compute.” I managed to get off my bike without falling over and walked it downhill for 5 minutes so I could calm down. My legs were shaking. My hands were screaming from breaking so hard.
Down hills are so out of my comfort zone. And that is when I get frustrated—why can’t I get it together?
So, Dennis and decided I needed to try something to help me get better with my bike handling, confidence and balance.
We got me a mountain bike. I am still in the getting to know you stage of the relationship with my new bike. She is very different from pink bike and I am sure she will have a lot to teach me. We took it out on a local (flat) trail and it felt so weird riding on dirt on a narrow path. We did some drills to practice rear and front breaking. And, apparently, when you ride mountain bikes you really aren’t in the seat much. Which– hopefully —all of these new skills will help me gain confidence at biking because I really do love biking.
Last but not least—I did my first tri of the season today! It was the Mermaid Alameda—a fantastic short and fast course. Which… I forgot to train for. But again, not having a goal time to obsess over really helped me just relax and enjoy the event. I swam with my friend Nancy, which was great. I really wanted to dominate the bike because it is such a flat course that you can get some good speed going. I passed a fair share of people and then this woman passed me. I narrowed my eyes and thought to myself, “I am going to get her.” It was pretty fun chasing her for 5 miles. I finally passed her, and I think she thought the same thing, “I am going to get that pink bike.” Alas, she passed me and I just couldn’t get her. The run…was a run. Not my fastest on that course and not my slowest. More importantly—my knee didn’t bug me. I finished the race and was cheered on by my amazing Team Mermaid teammates. Six years of these wonderful ladies supporting one another makes ANY race a party.