So as we already established, Myrtle Beach half marathon was a total bust, thanks to mother nature. If nothing else, the lack of racing gave me a head start on the second mega event of my weekend: shopping for my first "big girl" bike.
I've been talking about getting a road bike for years now. But something always came up. Namely, I kept getting pregnant, haha. The baby factory is now closed (you can quote me on that one!) and this year was finally to be my year to buy a bicycle. The whole family was on board for me to make one decent sized purchase. An investment, I like to call it. In case you haven't heard me say it before, I justify these large purchases with the fact that I'm not a bag girl. You know, like really ridiculously priced purses: dooney and bourke, coach, Louis Vuitton whatever the latest "in" designer is. If that's your thing, more power to you. I personally couldn't tell the $20 back alley knock off from the $400 real thing. Instead, I carry around my old reliable $20 billabong purse form pacsun and spend my hundreds on permission to run the streets of someone else's town while volunteers hand me dixie cups of Gatorade. Whatever puts a smile on your face my friends, that is what it's all about!
But regardless of finally having the go ahead from all ends of this deal, I was a little hesitant to go bike shopping on my own. Every one of my well meaning friends have given me suggestions on what to look for, what to stay away from, and so on when it comes to bike shopping. The funny part was, I had no idea what they were talking about. Components? What components? So just as I enlisted the help of my Dad the first time I walked into a car dealership to buy my first brand new car, I called upon my very experienced cyclist sister and brother-in-law to supervise my first serious bike purchase (i.e, not from Target or Walmart).
So now that we've got that rambling preface behind us, Saturday morning Holly, Jim, and I headed down to Grand Strand Bicycles in Murrells Inlet SC. I could ramble on for pages and pages raving about the AMAZING customer service that I was given here. Seriously, if you are a local to the Grand Strand area, or even in town visiting, don't even THINK about going anywhere else, go visit Mary, Tim, and the crew at GSB. I never felt pressured or overwhelmed for a second. The staff was so knowledgeable, and didn't even laugh at me with all of my silly questions or newbie cluelessness. They spent at least a good 3 hours with me, doing everything from a thorough bike fitting, to teaching me how to use my new trainer (Cycle Ops Super Magneto Pro), how to clip out so I don't bust my ass (yet assuring me it's gonna happen anyways), teaching me how to shift and what the different gear rings meant, and even showing me specific workouts/exercises I can do to help build my cycling strength.
The bike fitting was awesome. I started out feeling pretty uncomfortable on my bike, to feeling like I could ride all day. (well, other than the sore butt, but at as you can see from my butt imprinting on the left here, I was fit on the proper sized seat. Really didn't expect that one, ha!)
After an afternoon that actually exhausted me a little bit (seriously, I'm NOT a cyclist! yet...) I left the bike shop, proud owner of a brand new shiny black Specialized Allez Sport, with all of it's special parts switched around to fit me personally. To show you even more newbie status, I have no idea if it's the compact, triple, or double model, because I don't' even know what that means.
But I do know that he or she still without a name is BE-A-U-TIFUL!
That night after the kids went to bed (these little hands are still WAY too fascinated by the shiny new toy mom brought home) Holly and Jim gave me another basic run down on clipping in and out, and shifting. Because the next morning, less than 24 hours after purchasing my bike, I was headed on my very first open road organized bike ride. The Michelob Ultra Bike Rides, a part of the Myrtle Beach Marathon weekend that wasn't canceled.
dun dun dunnnnn!
I was so excited about my new bike that I didn't have time to be nervous. It wasn't until we were suited up and getting ready to ride, when I had my full blown panic attack. Holly brought me over to an empty parking lot near the starting line to practice riding/clipping in before the official ride. It was then I realized that clipping in and out while secured on a bike in a bike trainer is WAY easier than real life, hahaha. After a few deep breaths and reassuring words from Holly, I learned the art of the back peddle to get myself going and took off around the parking lot.
Finally feeling ready, we lined up at the back of the pack. And when I mean back, I mean I was the LAST person to go. I didn't want any pressure. Oh, and did I mention the race started on a HILL? Ok ok, to most of you that's barely a blip in the radar, but it scared the crap out of me. Much to my surprise, just as Mary from GSB told me, riding this bike felt like riding a rocket ship compared to my clunky old Schwinn. I didn't even feel the hill :)
The first few miles of the ride consisted of me riding my breaks down the backside of that minuscule hill, getting off the bike to walk across rail road tracks, and slowly taking corners. The next few consisted of me learning why I should invest in a pair of boot covers, and Holly convincing me that feeling would return to my fingers and toes, you know, eventually (it was a balmy high 37 degrees, somewhat windy morning). Before I knew it, we were at the 7 mile turn around (there was a 14.2 mile ride, 33.5, and 60 mile option. We were registered for 33 but due to the weather and new bike situation, we opted for the 14). The second half was a breeze. Holly and I picked up the pace on the way back, I actually shifted gears for once (ha!) and we passed many people in the back of the pack, working our way to a solid mid pack finish.
Seriously, I was almost as excited to finish this ride as I was when I finished my first marathon. I did it! And I am in LOVE with my new bike. I never imagine riding a bike could seem so effortless. Which of course means I need to go faster, but I'll deal with those details as I gain some more experience, haha.
I also didn't fall. I do realize that this means I'm bound to eat pavement any day now, and I'm not a "true cyclist" until I fall once or twice (or so I've been told). If it's any consolation, on the way back, I clipped out with my right foot at the railroad tracks and tried to put my left foot down, haha. I almost ate it, but quickly recovered. I'm thankful for all that time I spent pretending to be an Olympic Figure Skater wearing socks on the kitchen floor growing up. Triple axles I have not, but it sure gave me some decent balance.
So yeah, watch out Lance. Momma's got a brand new bike, and I'm coming for you and that crazy VO2 max. Ok maybe not, but we couldn't pass up the photo op!
I registered for the CCU triathlon April 18th. It's getting more official by the day.