I am always shy to write about training for fear of jinxing myself, or making the other shoe drop which is utter hogwash. But humans are (for the most part) a bit superstitious. And I am doubly so with my bike. And now, with a race this Sunday, I am biting the bullett/taking a gamble, and writing about….my bike progress so far. Gulp!
First off, I don’t think I have discussed my bike or some of it’s details. I ride a 2012 Felt DA-4 with Zipp 404s and a Quarq power meter. The bike, power meter and wheels were all obtained from the triathlon store for which I ride: Podium Multisport.
No Di2 shifters…yet. But I have many friends that have them and I listen to this shift on rides with just a little envy. Someday yes, but for now…I am very happy with my bike.
My Felt DA-4 My wheels are 650’s and everyone is surprised that I ride 650’s. I get “You’re small enough for 650’s?” and “Your bike is so little!” quite often. She may be little but don’t let that fool you – she puts in a terrific ride. I love being pulled in tight to my bike. I am very comfortable and let’s face it – no-one wants to draft off you since there isn’t much to draft off anyway!
After I hit the dog (over 1 year ago) I continued to ride, and love to ride, but it did take awhile to recapture the unadulterated, shear joy of riding: I was always alert and aware for random objects (cars, dogs, deer, squirrels – you name it) that may cross my path. Don’t get me wrong – I am still as alert as ever, but over time that sheer unadulterated joy on my bike has returned (big HOORAY!). However, it has returned because of a lot of work by me, and understanding from friends.
My friend Elaine and I rode together a lot last summer – 2-3 times a week a lot. She put up with a cautious stops, hesitations and some occasional erratic moves. She lead sometimes, and sometimes I did. It was easy, and fun. We rode a lot of miles. And my confidence built. I mean, here I was hanging with someone who’s a strong rider (and loves to ride) and has terrific bike handling skills. All I could say is “I want to be like you!”
We joked as my bike skills are….OK. So I made it a goal to start working on my weaknesses – including U-turns in the road. Gradually I started making them without unclipping (hooray!). And as I did this, my enjoyment and confidence continued to build.
Another thing that has improved my riding is getting to ride with my coach, as well as other athletes and friends of hers. Laura loves to ride. And the first group ride I did with Laura and her friends….I wrote her after and said that pure, unadulterated love was back! And when you ride with a group of strong riders with good skills, your skills need to improve, and they continued to improve.
Also, riding in most any weather (wind, rain, cold….you name it and I was out there) has helped a lot. I could have stayed in on the trainer, but I know that doesn’t help me with my bike skills. And a race goes on in most any weather so as long as it was safe to ride (not horrendous conditions), I am out there, usually doing endless circles on Riverside Drive! A bonus to riding in cruddy weather – fewer cyclists on the road. And I will admit – I loved having the road to myself. OK – I also love riding in a group. Let’s just say it – I do love to ride!
All of this, even the bad weather riding, has built my happiness on the bike. I crave that feeling of unadulterated happiness on my bike; and looked forward to getting out there and experiencing it. And I do – alone or with friends. And I really do love to share my rides with friends, especially friends who can push me. So I really love riding with my coach and anyone who rides with her!
I still need to improve my skills. I still unclip sometimes when I pull a U-turn in a road (especially if I have to do it quickly), and need to steady out more. I still pull some “strange” moves. But I know this is a long-term thing that I always will be working on. And I still text Elaine if I do a ride where I do most of my U-turns on Riverside without unclipping!
So – same old story – I continue to work and plug away slowly and gradually. This one is just a little more detail on how it goes. And I hopefully haven’t jinxed myself! But that’s not possible anyway, right?