After completing our first half marathon, we wanted to add more to our exercise routine. Running is great, and I have truly come to enjoy it; but my body needs more. Both Nick and I had friends who were training for the BP MS 150 (a 150-mile bike ride from Houston to Austin to raise awareness for multiple sclerosis and support MS research). My friend, Kellie, had just signed up for her first triathlon in May. As we talked with them, we realized cycling would be our next sport with the expectation that we would eventually like to compete in triathlons.
As with running, we began to research bicycling. What kind of bike should we buy – aluminum or carbon, road bike or triathlon bike? How much would it cost to enter the sport? What else does one need? After talking to several people, some only cycle and others compete in triathlons, we decided to start with a mid-range aluminum bike. If necessary, we can always upgrade in the future. So we spent a weekend visiting bike shops in the area and test riding several bikes. We each selected a bike to fit our needs, at least for now.
Contrary to what I thought, you don’t just buy a bike. Once the bike was picked out, I moved on to road pedals and that, of course, goes hand-in-hand with cycling shoes. But let’s not stop there, before I can even get out on the road I need a helmet. And after speaking to the saleswoman, if I’m planning on riding any longer than a 5-mile ride, riding shorts are a necessity. A friend of mine also suggested getting biking gloves with gel. Also, if we are going to take the bikes anywhere, we will need a bike rack for one or both of our vehicles.
Last Thursday, Nick and I were fitted to our new bikes and we brought them home, as well as all of the other necessities mentioned above. When we got home we took the bikes on a quick ride through the neighborhood just to test them out. All was well. We planned on a longer ride Friday morning as well as a 12-mile ride and 5k run Saturday morning.
First ride on our new bikes
Friday morning was a holiday, so we took the dogs on a morning walk and then got geared up for a bike ride. I was still a little nervous about clipping in to the pedals, but didn’t have any problems the night before so I wasn’t expecting any for this ride. I thought maybe I was a quick learner, and wouldn’t have a story like everyone else did about their first time clipping-in to his or her pedals. I snapped a quick picture before leaving the house.
We were out of the neighborhood in no time. As we approached the red light at the entrance of the neighborhood, I clipped out of my pedals and slowed down. The light turned green before I stopped, so I clipped back in and continued the ride.
About ½ mile from the light was a 90 degree turn, I slowed down and made the turn like a champ. At the 1 mile mark was another traffic light. I started slowing down and unclipped my right foot. As we approached the light, it turned red, so I knew I had to stop. My right foot was free and as I came to a complete stop, it was out of instinct that my body leaned left. My left foot was still clipped in to the pedal, and now I was frantically trying to put my left foot on the ground while my bike continued to fall. Then I hit the ground, left knee first. I lay there for a split second, trying to understand what just happened, and so scared about the number of people that witnessed my little mishap. I wanted to just lie there and cry. As I looked up, the light turned green and panic rose inside of me. I turned to Nick, my left foot still firmly attached to the pedal. He told me it was okay, to get up and that no one saw what just happened. I finally freed my left foot, stood up, and got back on the bike. My ego was bruised, my heart was pounding, and my eyes wanted to open the floodgates, but I knew I was okay and that I had to keep pedaling. Then I felt something drip down my shin and I pictured my knee gushing with blood, when I looked down it was just a bead of sweat running down my leg.
We continued another three miles, with only a few stop signs. Because Nick rides faster than me, he approached them first and I was able to continue pedaling through most of them, only slowing down and not coming to a complete stop. We reached our turnaround point, a church parking lot. I was able to get some water and assess the damage that had been done to my bike and body – my knee was scraped up and I had a few scratches on my leg, my hip hurt from the impact, but no bruising. My brand new shoes were now scratched on the left foot, and my handlebar tape had a small piece missing from the left side.
After our quick pit stop, we headed home. I got really nervous as we approached the dreaded stoplight (I had already decided I was going to run it if the light was red), but continued pedaling. To my surprise, the light remained green and I breezed through it. We rode the final mile back to house without any further issues. Round trip was approximately 8 miles at a 14 mph pace, not bad for the first real ride on a bike. My legs were tired and not used to the motions, nevertheless I was happy overall (not counting my fall) with my first ride on my new road bike.
Day 2 and 12 miles later
Saturday morning Nick and I met up with my friend Kellie to ride bikes and run. She is training for her first sprint triathlon (only 3 weeks away), so she started her day with a swim at a gym near the house, then the three of us were going to ride bikes and run. We met up about 8:30am in the gym parking lot, unloaded the bikes, put our gear on and were off. Kellie had mapped out approximately a 12-mile loop. We rode about a block and came to our first red light. I was nervous as we approached the light, not wanting to repeat the previous day’s events. I unclipped, and stopped without any problems, whew! Kellie and Nick rode in front, so at the next several lights they had to stop, however once I got to the light, it had turned green, so I pedaled right through them. This was good and bad – good that I didn’t have to stop at all of the red lights, bad that because I didn’t stop I was getting thirsty, and I’m not nearly a confident enough rider to reach for my water bottle while in motion.
At about the halfway point my legs began to tire, but I knew I couldn’t give up because we were six miles from the truck and I definitely wasn’t walking back at this point. So I pushed harder and willed my legs to go numb so I could continue pedaling. The last few miles had road construction in some places we were down to only one lane of traffic. For the most part the vehicles were courteous; we didn’t encounter any disgruntled drivers. The ride was good. We made it back to the truck in under an hour, according to Kellie’s computer we rode at a 15-16mph pace.
We locked up the bikes, changed into running shoes and running shorts and then we were off. The first few steps of the 5k my legs were still trying to pedal, so it took a little while for them to get used to the running motion. And because your legs move so fast on the bike, I was running at a much faster pace than normal. I slowed down and ran the rest of the way at Kellie’s pace. We chatted as we completed the 3.1 miles. Once back at the truck, we were all surprised at how well the day had gone. We talked for awhile then headed in different directions. Nick and I stopped by Chipotle for lunch and then headed home. The rest of the day was lazy and uneventful.
Overall, it was a fantastic day! I couldn’t believe I was able to ride 12 miles and then run a 5k, I was beyond ecstatic and my confidence soared. Maybe a triathlon isn’t so far out of reach!!