Last night, I had made plans to swim with a friend for the first time in many months. I was actually pretty excited about it since it was supposed to rain all day and, I must admit, I just kind of feel like swimming. I’m making an effort to cross-train more, so swimming is going to be a must in my future. And I started Chrissie Wellington’s memoire (I plan to finish it tonight), so thinking about tris and reading her story has me all amped up about swimming.
But lo and behold, I woke up at the crack of 9:15 and it was sunny and not too warm. I could feel a gentle breeze wafting through my open windows and I knew I wouldn’t be spending my exercise time indoors. (Luckily, my friend had ended up staying up late and was not feeling up to a 10-am swim, so no harm no foul there.) I added some air to my tires, strapped on my helmet because I’m an adult now, glanced at the time and headed out.
I wasn’t sure how far I’d go; I knew I wanted to be out for at least 90 mins, probably two hours (which is what it ended up being). I just didn’t know how far that would take me. I was feeling good, and I spent the first several miles debating about whether or not to bike all the way back to my parents’ place. I’ve done that ride only once, but attempted it one other time. I had started out fully intending to bike back, but after my planned “quick break” at home turned into a few hours of hanging around, I knew I wasn’t going to bike back. I got my dad to drive me back, I think. So today, although I was feeling great (and had capri-length spandex on to avoid at least some chafing), I was honest with myself. I knew that if I went home, my motivation to bike 25 miles back to town would plummet and I’d bum a ride and end up with a subpar biking day.
An hour into my ride, the road I was on, Huron River Drive, turned into a dirt road. I could have continued left or right on pavement, but I didn’t want to put myself in one of those “I’m feeling good now, so I’ll keep going! It can’t be that bad!” situations where I go out too far, then struggle with the return trip. I hopped out of the saddle for a quick stretch (and to confirm on my phone that my parents’ place was farther than I thought it would be, so I should not carry on to there), then turned around. The ride back, as it always does, seemed to go faster. I think this is mainly because on the way out, I was keeping loose track of how long it had been and deciding how far out I’d go. The way back was simple: just go back the way you came, and you’ll get there when you get there. And for the love of god, actually try on the hills.
Which I did. As with running, sometimes I fail to realize that a hill is happening to me until I’m a third of the way up, then I just settle into a trudge rather than try to power up the hill. I tell myself, “You aren’t going to get better at hills by not working on them. So work up this one.” The thing is, I really, really dislike biking uphill. At this stage, it’s at least in part because I’m not in uphill biking shape at all (short of the anatomical fact that I have quads). But there’s just something tedious and frustrating about it: you’re pedaling and pedaling, gears whirring and your legs burning, and you’re barely moving. (Reiterating here: out of shape.) With running, even if you’re moving slowly uphill, it feels like less work to be moving slowly. To me, moving slowly uphill on a bike is pure torture because it feels so damn inefficient, putting in a bunch of work and seeing little movement.
But today, for the most part, I did decently on the hills. The very last one, on a bridge just before town, had me swearing like a sailor, but for the most part I just did it. It definitely helped that unlike my last ride, I brought water. I wore my Nathan pack. I don’t know why people mess around with bottles on bikes; unclipping the slurpy bit and drinking hands-free seems like a much more obvious and convenient way to go. Maybe they don’t like the back sweat from the pack. Maybe it’s the weight (though you could just not fill it the whole way). At any rate, it made my ride much more enjoyable and probably better quality. I rode into Kerrytown, sweaty and absolutely ravenous. I bought a bagel and two plums and scarfed them outside the shop, which I found a little odd. Usually after running far, I’m not hungry for hours, but even a few miles before I finished, I knew I would be really, really hungry when I stopped. I could already feel it.
I got home, ate more things, read more of Chrissie’s book (which is fantastic, I definitely recommend it even if you’re not into tris), then climbed for a little under three hours. So it’s just shy of 9 p.m. and I am ready for bed. (My legs aren’t tired, though; next week I think I will attempt the 50 miles to and from home.)
Moral of the story: biking is actually pretty okay. Which means I definitely need to invest in some good (read: padded!) biking shorts.
Peace love and a number of sports, all of which one can derive pleasure from,
PS. I intended to take some pictures, but I was maintaining a semi-decent pace (about 15mph) and didn’t feel like stopping. It was green and blue and pretty, along the Huron River most of the way. It also rained at one point, but it was still very sunny. A perfect combination.