Sunday, 22 July 2012

Cycling #1

When I completed my first triathlon, just under two months ago, I realised two things very quickly.  Firstly, I wanted to do another one.  Secondly, I did not want to do another one on my step through commuter bike.  Cue some research, and some advice and the purchase of a road bike, in the end based more on its colour than on the results of the research and the advice.  (It had to be pink or I just wasn't going to ride it...).
I've just taken up the challenge of trying to learn to ride it.  A road bike is really completely different to the sort of bikes that I have been riding for the last 8 years (and as a child); it's a different position, it's a lot lighter and it's much more difficult to grab the brakes!  So it's been back to learning how to ride it; I don't really remember learning to ride a bike as a child (and there are no stabilisers around to help me get the hang of it this time), but it is somewhat reminiscent of learning to drive (which I do just about remember).
The last ten days have seen me stuttering around our estate, but I realised after half an hour of pottering earlier in the week that I just needed to get on and do it.  I persuaded Mr W that we should try to cycle to the garden centre at the nearby town, 12 miles away, where there is a reasonable cafe.*  And Saturday was our day.  Perfect weather.  It was both harder and easier than I'd imagined.  I've plenty of cycling fitness from my 45 miles a week of commuting, and my weekly spinning class, and to be honest the road bike barely needs pedalling except up hills.  But there were lots of pot holes to avoid, drivers cutting me up at roundabouts, and worst of all downhill bits which just felt terrifying.  I am happy pedalling along fastish as it feels like I am in control, but I can't bear going downhill at the moment, even slight slopes.  Maybe once I get a bit more comfortable on the drops, I'll be able to grab the brakes better and then it'll be less of an issue.
Anyway, we got to the garden centre, I got stuck on my bike because my back at seized up and had to lie down in the carpark for a bit.  We had a little  rest and then we came back again (after Mr W had refused to let me buy some hanging baskets - if I'd been on my commuter bike I'd have balanced one on each handlebar). It had taken about 75 minutes to get there, so I was hopeful that we'd get back a bit quicker, maybe under an hour.  It was all going so well until 4 miles from the end, after a steepish bit of hill, everything started hurting and faced with a steepish bit of downhill, I just lost my nerve, and had to sit down on a grass verge for a bit.  It was hard to get back on, and the next mile was a struggle but by the last mile I was going ok again, and even got onto the drops for the last 200m back to our house.
So a success I think.  Next time I'll try to manage to eat a bit more at the rest stop, and I think that plenty of practise is mainly what I need to get more confident and then up my speed.
* Actually when we got there it didn't have any terribly interesting gluten free options, so somewhere else next time.

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