Last year in September, a certain blogger convinced me through some witchery that I should join her on the Friends for Life Bike Rally in the summer of 2015. It’s a 5 day 600-ish km ride from Toronto to Montreal in support of the PWA (People With AIDS) Foundation.
I had never done more on a bike than commute to and from work (maybe 2.5 km) and occasionally take a longer ride on the weekend (10 km max). But there was something about her enthusiasm, her social media posting and her pestering that made me say yes. I bought a road bike. She is red and sleek. She was on sale at a local shop, a return from someone who didn’t like her. I thought she was pretty nifty so I took a chance. I mean, that’s what eBay is for, fixing expensive mistakes, right?
First Level Up: I can still remember my first long ride. It was 19 km up at the cottage. I biked on Limberlost Road and I didn’t even make it to the dump before I turned around. I was using hybrid pedals (so no clips or anything fancy). It was just me and my new bike. Pretty cool. I was pretty wiped out. As the outdoor season ended, I had biked maybe 4 times, all similar distances. I vowed to continue indoors at the gym.
Second Level Up: The stationary bike experience at the community centre gym was a special hell. I was inside, with loud top 40 music playing in my middle aged ears. The only time I could go was Dr. Phil time, a train wreck in subtitles from which I could not avert my gaze. The last straw was a ride in December. Holiday music time. There’s a song, it has to do with mama’s shoes. You may not survive listening through the whole thing. I nearly didn’t. I bought a mag trainer.
Third Level Up: The basement was definitely an improvement over the gym and Dr. Phil. I could stream what I wanted on the big screen. I chose Spartacus. Don’t judge. But wow, trainers are hard!! They are always uphill. Like uphill forever. No gliding, no rest until you stop. And don’t even get me started on the stupid DVD that came with. That almost did actually put an end to me.
Fourth Level Up: I bought the shoes! Outdoor riding season had at last arrived! I was done with being all inefficient. I got bike shoes and Shaniamo pedals. I learned to clip in and out from this post. Thanks Sam and Tracy! I went on my first ride with other people and something magic happened. I was riding, keeping up, passing people, conquering hills other people had trouble with. I had not only kept my fitness all winter, I had improved it. It was miraculous. It was a 30 km ride. The next week I did 60 km. As I sit and write, I’m just fresh off a mid week 30 km solo ride. It was easy. Who am I?
Well, for one thing, I’m pretty sure I like the Road Bike, so, I guess I’m becoming a little bit of a Roadie. I’m building a growing network of people who I run, ride and strength train with, and a guess I’m becoming a little bit of a jock. (And as an aside, every aspiring jock needs a good Podiatrist. That may be another post). On the level up theme, my ride today was motivated in large part by me feeling like a miserable neurotic mess. I thought it would help. It did. It makes me feel in charge and getting somewhere and it shuts up my overcharged brain.
I still have a ways to go in building speed and endurance. I can totally see it happening. Every week I get to bike, run, do Pilates and ride a pony and the idea of all those things makes me feel happy, like full to bursting happy.
Level Up all y’all!!