I am always amazed that on my first day of skiing every year, I’ve remembered how to make those delicious carved turns. One might think that after months of doing other sports, there would be an awkward transition back to skillfully sliding down a snowy slope. But that’s not true. Without fail, the muscle memory kicks in every year, and within the first two or three turns, I am thrilled by the speed and the ready availability of my skiing skills.
Archive for the ‘Biking’ Category
Anybody who read my early biking days posts will understand my delight to have passed the 5,000 mile milestone. As a little reward, I bought new tires and will soon be riding with an upgraded computer.
What have I learned since 2013? A couple things.
Tomorrow (9/20/14), Dan and I will ride the medium distance loop of the Veterans Victory Velo (V3) fund raiser. Sixty miles is farther than I have ever ridden on my road bike so far. The hilly 52-mile route I did a month ago didn’t trash me, so I’m not too worried.
2014 has been a great year of advancements for me, especially when I look back at my prior bike-related posts.
Every weekend is another opportunity to test my legs and lungs.
Road cyclists who live in the East Bay area of Northern California like to test their fitness and skill by riding up and down Mount Diablo. It’s 3,848 feet high, and on a clear day, you can see the Sierra Nevada range across the Central Valley from its peak. A year ago, I swore I’d never ride on that curvy road with its long climb up and fast ride down. This is big time biking: it’s part of the Amgen Tour of California every year.
With over 1700 miles logged, it’s time to share my latest biking revelations. I didn’t dare hope for this so soon, but my Year of Fear is gradually fading from memory. These days I even dare to brag in Facebook.
My main goal last year was to desensitize myself to the intimidating aspects of riding on streets next to fast-moving cars. I still have plenty of skills to master: hand signals, drinking from my water bottle, and fast cornering. But these weren’t at all approachable with my whole body tightened up with tension. I don’t know how many times I had to remind myself, “Don’t strangle the handlebars!” “Quit hunching!” “Pretend you’re relaxed!” (helpful to my skate students). I know it’s not safe to get too relaxed in the face of these dangers, so lately I’ve had to add “Pay attention, be here now!” when I notice I’m daydreaming.
Last February, I still had my doubts about being worthy of the expensive racing bike Dan got me for Christmas, especially after The Big Crash. But my bike riding skills and confidence slowly continued to improve as the year and miles (1200+ so far) progressed. In late summer, I finally had to admit that the feeling of terror that dominated most rides had evolved to one of FUN!
Now, holiday commitments, the ski season, loss of daylight and unfriendly weather make time on the bike difficult to fit in, so I’m back to Spin classes. The outdoor riding fantasies that get me through that intense two hours every week often result in drills and experiments to address issues I experience on the road.
“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…
Much to my amazed relief, I really am becoming a “road biker.”
My early season rides with Team Chevron really helped my cycling, both in skill and confidence. We went from 20-mile to 40-mile rides before they cranked it up to serious training on much more demanding terrain. Maybe next year!
Thanks to those group rides, though, I was gently introduced to several popular local routes I now feel comfortable tackling solo: San Ramon Valley Boulevard to Niles, Niles via Calaveras Road (almost) to Ed Levin County Park, SRVB to Cull Canyon (a 40-mile round trip) and bi-weekly SRVB to Walnut Creek Saturday commutes to meet my Tai Chi instructor. According to my bike computer, my average mph and — more important — my max (downhill) speed are creeping up.
Me: “You know how I react under the influence of endorphins, right?”
Him: “Yeah, phew, every morning after your workout!”
Me: “Yesterday I had another shower epiphany after spin class. I was like ‘Wow, I love how I feel so self righteous! I’m such a wonderful person! I’m all set for a great day! Exercise is so great for a person’s self esteem.”
Him: “Mmm hmm.”
Me: “And then I was sharing this thought with another lady in the locker room (poor thing), saying, ‘Man, if only I could bottle this stuff! It would be so great if I could share my overabundance of feeling good with somebody else who really needs it!'”
A week ago I borrowed a trainer on which I can mount the rear wheel of my bicycle to get a workout in my garage. I don’t need the exercise so much as I need the muscle memory of bicycling basics. The way I see it, I am getting my body used to the bike fit and posture and I can practice moving my hands without fear of losing control of the steering. Some day I’ll have to pull out my water bottle for a drink or signal a turn. I also get to practice looking over my shoulder in preparation for turning when I’m near traffic.