“You go ahead and start, Liz. I’ll catch up,” Dan said on the Friday morning we did a fitness roll before work. I took off, excited to be worthy of a morning ride with Dan, who has been road biking since well before I met him 30 years ago. Two miles later, I was proud when he came up from behind and exclaimed, “That was harder than I thought it would be!” We proceeded to tackle the steep uphill on the next block together, but he screamed past on the downhill, tilting elegantly into a hard right turn leading to our country road route. Sigh. Maybe someday I’ll look like that…
My recent drilling has been focused on how my body interacts with this high-performance tool. It will be a long while before I feel “at one with the bike,” but it has been a great week of accomplishments. (I realize many cyclists will laugh at me for being such a sissy, but this isn’t for you.)
- I finally drank from my water bottle while rolling. Afraid to take my eyes off the road, I groped down to find the bottle, yanked it from the fasteners, and tipped and sipped to the side. Then groped again (where’s my knee? It’s lower than that!), found the holder and shoved until it clicked. Phew! Didn’t get much to drink but I did it on the country road! Two days earlier I’d managed drinking on the safety of our neighborhood street.
- I made slalom turns without steering. As with skating or skiing, going forward on a straight path isn’t so hard. It’s all the other stuff–like short radius or high speed turns–that require skill. One day, I did agility drills in the neighborhood. I learned that poking my chin to the right or left shifts my center of gravity just enough to tip the bike into an arcing turn. Tighter and faster turns are still a work in progress, though.
- I biked “in the drops” and got sore. Dan confirmed that continued practice builds tolerance in the low back muscle groups. So I need to keep doing that.
- I am getting better at stand-up pedaling. On my drilling day, I chose a low gear and slight hill to figure out the forward stance and proper amount of pressure. The gear I’m in must have just enough resistance so I don’t push too hard and go “clunk!” on the stroke. Then I must pedal with just enough pressure, not all out. When I get it right, it feels like I’m just jogging along, saving a bunch of shifting effort.
- I washed my bike for the first time. (Thanks to How to Clean Your Bicycle, an article I found on http://www.womenscycling.ca.) All went well, but since I have not yet had any flat tires, removing and remounting the wheels took extra time and, I’ll admit, pondering.
My computer shows a cumulative 698 miles since I got my bike for Christmas. This being August, that averages out to 100 miles a month. Pretty good for a newbie like me, and it is definitely helping me get the saddle time I know I need to someday become one with my bike.