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Tolerating Two Wheels

Posted Aug 25 2009 12:00am
This isn't me. I do wear my helmet!

This isn't me. I do wear my helmet!

I tolerate biking. I don’t love it. I don’t hate it. It’s my least favorite of the three disciplines in triathlon training, and it takes a lot of self talk to get me out the door with my bike. If I didn’t have a race coming up in a couple of weeks, I would have hung up my helmet for the season.

I did go bike riding today though. 10 miles. It took me just under an hour, but then I wasn’t trying to ride fast today. I wanted to find a route that would be about 10 miles for safe training, so today’s ride was exploratory. When I ride it again this weekend, I’ll work on speed.

Overall, the ride was good this morning. I cruised through a neighborhood that I never go through in my car, the weather is perfect, and I felt like I got a good workout by the time I got home. Ten miles is the longest ride I’ve done and it felt easy enough. I wasn’t trashed after the ride, although we’ll see how I feel tomorrow when I bike and then run. In my race coming up, the bike leg is 9 miles and with less hills than where I was riding today.

Riding along, I kept thinking to myself “Why don’t I like this? I mean, I’m moving and it’s easier than running.” And then some woman pulled out of her driveway while I was approaching and I had to come to a quick stop to avoid being hit. She was on her cell phone.

Oh yeah, that’s right. I’m not a huge fan of biking because you have to take your two wheels out where the big boys (with four wheels) play and they don’t always watch out for the little guys.

The course I mapped out this morning keeps me on neighborhood roads with only a few places where I’m on high-traffic secondary roads. I give tons of credit to those cyclists who ride the major highways and routes. I don’t trust the cars.

Heck, rushing to work a couple of weeks ago, I almost backed into a woman walking behind my driveway. She was in my blindspot. And since I’ve started training outside, I’m extremely aware of others on the road and I always stop for bikes, runners and walkers who are crossing streets or coming up on my house. I got a much-deserved evil glare from the woman, and I felt awful about that for almost the whole day. I felt like if I could come so close to clipping someone and I have a raised level of awareness, how can I trust anyone else? The answer? I can’t. When we are out there training, we need to pay attention to those who are not paying attention to us. We’re moving targets.

Also, my bike is, well, borrowed. And not exactly right for the type of riding I’m doing. It’s a mountain/terrain bike and the tires are wide and the gears are clunky. I don’t know much about the mechanics of a bike, but I don’t think changing gears should be as clicky as they are on this bike.  I worry about things like low air in the tires, flats, etc. I need to learn more about the bike that I’m riding so I don’t get stuck if something happens to it. Plus, sorry, riding hurts my butt. Even with a cushy padded seat like the one I was riding on today.

When I was a teenager, I rode my bike everywhere. I rode to work every day, along major highways and roads and I never thought once about how dangerous it might be or that I might get a flat. It was a faster way to get to work than walking was.

I’d like to get back to that mentality on the bike now. I want to enjoy it as much as I did then and not worry about what could go wrong. I’d say for most of the ride today, I felt pretty confident and comfortable. But in cycling, there  is definitely as much thought and awareness that has to go into safety as there is into exercise or form.

To get started, I think I’ll head to the bike store this afternoon to see about replacing the mountain bike tires with road tires at least. Maybe they can give me a tutorial too!

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