Regular readers will know that cycling is my least favourite part of triathlon and that I put outdoor training on hold this year because my road-phobia intensified to such a degree that I just couldn’t do it. See my post about wrestling with my feelings about the bike here.
There, one of the options was just to give up triathlon. But I don’t really want to give up triathlon. Especially when we’re coming into my favourite training season: winter! Indoor training agrees with me.
So here’s what I did. I sat it out for most of the summer. I only rode my road bike twice — once right before the Kincardine Women’s Triathlon in July, when I took it for a spin around the hotel parking lot the night before the race (yes, really). And once on race day. Other than that, the only cycling I’ve done all season has been commuting on my hybrid.
Until last week. Last week, I picked up my new Scott Plasma 20 TT bike. It’s not the most expensive bike on the market, but it’s not the cheapest either. For a second hand 2011, I paid more than I paid for my new road bike two years ago. That included a professional bike fit and a discount on indoor classes for the winter. And for someone who has gone public as an almost-hater, it may seem like a very strange thing to do.
The thing is, Sam has been encouraging me (not surprising, since she is a “buy the damn bike” kind of woman). Her reasoning — if you’re going to hate it but continue to do triathlon, you may as well have a fast bike that’s built for triathlon.
And then her coach had this bike to sell. And it was a good deal and came with a fit. And I’ve been sort of down because Renald left to go sailing and our condo got destroyed by a flood. It was almost my birthday. And I’d had a suitably long break from cycling that it started to seem like something I might want to do again.
I owned for awhile before I could actually collect it because I had to get re-situated and re-settled in some new temporary digs with not much of my stuff. But I finally figured out a spot to safely store the bike (actually, the bikes, because I’ve also still got the road bike just in case I feel inspired to go out with a group next summer), so I picked it up and truth be told, because it’s so pretty and the weather has been so spectacular (autumn is my favourite!), I was actually kind of exciting about taking it out for a spin.
Thursday, Sam nudged me out the door to meet her on a deserted road north of town. She would ride her bike there and I would meet her at the corner of Thirteen Mile Rd. and Adelaide with my new wheels. The day couldn’t have been more perfect. I met her there at 5 p.m. and we rode for about an hour.
I like riding with Sam because she is very reassuring. She always tells me a look confident and comfortable on my bike and she always compliments my skills. It helps to hear this.
The route we took was deserted and mostly flat, with just a couple of very easy hills. Riding upright on the TT bike is easy, with the only complication being that the shifters are on the ends of the aero bars. That makes reaching them a bit awkward unless you’re in the aero position.
I tried the aero position a few times on our ride. It’s going to take some work because wow, I totally see why it’s not a good position to be in if you need to do anything other than go in a straight line. I had trouble even doing that. It’s a very twitchy position. Every movement you make the bike responds. I screamed a few times and whenever I went into the aero position I told Sam to give me space.
The other thing about it is, holy cow, it’s tough on the neck. I think the bike fitter or Sam’s couch said something about not looking all that far ahead because it’s too hard on the neck to keep your head up that much.
But all in all, I liked being on the bike. I liked being on the road. I enjoyed the fresh air and the fall colours. Sam and I both kept marveling at how beautiful it was, with the trees and the warm air and the quiet road.
And then we got back to my car, she snapped a couple of pics of me with my new bike, and off she rode back into town. I packed up my new bicycle and hit the road in the car. It took me awhile to catch up with and pass Sam. She is a speedy rider who has to really slow down to ride with me. I am ever grateful for her patience!