Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Full Bike Story

Week day bike rides are a bit scary for me. The park where I ride is closed to traffic during the weekends so that cyclists and runners can have the roads, but on week days people use it as a short cut (although what all those people are doing on the road at 2 pm on a Wednesday I don't know! Maybe there is a correlation between unemployment rates and weekday afternoon traffic in the park?) So the traffic freaks me out a bit on my bike. I don't love getting buzzed by cars and I especially dislike the ones who think it's cute or even OK to honk as they pass. But the point is, I survived. I even managed to get in my hill repeats without too many traffic-induced complications. And when I finish a ride like this, I really have to stop and appreciate how far I have come.

Fair warning, it's time for a back story, because you may not really understand how far I have come without it. Anybody who read my little Nike blurb knows I wasn't much of an athlete as a child. When I was very little my father was into cycling to some extent, and I would ride in a seat on the back of his bike when we were down at the beach house. But at home I lived on a farm on a dirt road. I learned how to ride a bike at some point I guess, but I can probably count on my fingers the number of times the mountain bike I owned got ridden. You know that phrase "It's like riding a bicycle"? Well for me that phrase should be "It's like riding a horse." That is what I learned how to do at a young age and what I will never forget. When I decided to start doing full triathlons (not just the swim in a relay) I hadn't been on a bike in maybe 10 years. When I bought my road bike from a guy off Craig's list, I walked it around the corner before I test rode it cause I didn't want him to see me struggle. I literally had to sit down on the seat with both feet on the ground before I could start pedaling. I couldn't even stand up on the pedals when I started.

For me, little things have been huge milestones. First starting my bike without sitting on the seat. Then taking off one hand to signal turns. Then cages on my pedals. Then standing while coasting. Then drinking while riding. Then being clipped in. I took a nasty fall once while trying to take my right hand off the handle bars. Full confession? I'm STILL not very comfortable standing to pedal.

So the fact that today I can bike in traffic, clip and unclip when necessary, tackle hill repeats (mostly without standing...), keep up with (barely) a group ride, and log miles upon miles in the saddle...These are accomplishments I have to remember to celebrate. Go Jo!

This bike chain mark on my leg? I wear it with pride!


  1. Chain grease mark on leg=rookie tattoo! He-he :)
    Nice progression and great to look back on that b/c you can seriously appreciate not having that biking background and coming along as far as you have relatively unscathed. Yay!
    Sometimes I think riding on the roads with cars is safer than riding at the 7 mile park loop near my house. I've had more crashes in the park (because of idiots who are oblivious to any others around them even when you yell on your left 10 times before approaching)than on the road. Go figure!

  2. I also have some crazy park tales about people making poor choices. I almost ran over a runner the other day because a cyclist decided to pass me (VERY close) without warning me as I was about to pass the runner. ugh.
    Cars don't worry me on regular two lane roads, but on complicated traffic patterns and multiple lanes, I get freaked out. Plus when I'm hammering a hill I hate a car hovering behind me the whole time...
    AND I know plenty of non-rookies with chain marks!