A new day, a new bike


Isn't she pretty?! Specialized Dolce

Well, it’s happened. I finally bought my first bike. And not just any bike, but wonderful, beautiful road bike. Now, let me impress upon you the magnitude of this event. This is a decision I’ve been waffling about casually for the past two years and more seriously for the past 6 months. The fact that I actually went to the bike store, looked at the bikes, and made a decision to buy is huge. Just ask my dear friend Shannon, who’s been listening me talk about it for that long.

My motivation? Besides being slightly embarrassed by the fact that I’m obsessed with cycling but didn’t even have a bike? RAGBRAI. The Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa. The Register being the Des Moines Register. Apparently it’s a pretty big deal. A week long party across Iowa on bikes. My dad suggested it, and I thought it sounded like a good motivator. So I said yes, and he was like, well I guess I better get a bike, and I said me too. And when the route was announced this weekend, I started to get scared- a 454mi ride and I’ve yet to train a mile. Also let me impress upon you my lack of fitness. I have not regularly rode a bike since high school (and that was only until I got a car at 16, mind), nor do I even have a fitness base to build on. I’m starting at zero. So I knew I’d need every day, every mile, every minute I could get on a bike. And when I confessed to Shannon that I was having a hard time working up the nerve to go to the bike shop, she offered to go with me, and with her holding me accountable, I finally went.

Why was I having a hard time getting myself to the bike shop? I was intimated by it all. I don’t like not knowing what I’m doing. I don’t like looking like I don’t know what I’m doing. And there is so much about cycling, specifically bikes, that I don’t know anything about. Sure, I’ve read a lot about bikes. But we all know that’s not the same as actually looking at real bikes. And I’m kinda ashamed about my lack of fitness. So mainly I was just worried about being embarrassed. Which I know is silly. But unavoidable for me.

I looked at a few bikes at the local shop, Arrow Bicycles, and REI. While I might have liked the bike at REI a little better and I would’ve gotten a bit more bike for my money, I decided to go with the bike at Arrow for a few reasons. It’s local and I like supporting local business, even if it’s a bit more expensive and the choices not so vast. It’s much closer and I can walk/bike there. They’re big into the community. They said they’d do a free bike fit. Etcetera.

So now I’ve got the bike. And let me say, starting out from zero buying a bike is not only expensive, but riddled with choices. If you don’t like making choices, are indecisive, become easily overwhelmed by options should not get into biking. The shorts! The helmet! The gloves! The pedals! Not to mention, the bike! And that’s if you just get the basics. Yeesh. I’ve spent more time combing the internet for reviews of equipment and trying to decide what I can get pay the least for but get the most from than I’ve spent at my real job. To minimize the impact my wallet would feel, I tried to spread my purchases out, so I didn’t have to lay out all the dough at once. And I’ve left the fancy clipless pedals and shoes for a later paycheck. I think just surviving the bike will be enough at first, without trying not to die while I figure out clipless pedals.

Armed with all my fun new equipment, I now embark on a training adventure. To start, my goal is to ride my bike everyday, for at least 20 minutes (Weather permitting. Even fear of total fitness humiliation will not entice me to ride in the rain). This way I can get my butt used to being in the saddle and hopefully figure out how not to asphyxiate going up the “hills” in my neighborhood. That’s it. Once I can get on the bike two days in a row without a sore butt, I’ll figure out what to do next.

Through the quiet urging, prodding, and support of Shannon, the looming challenge of RAGBRAI, and the love I see expressed everyday by my Tweeps for cycling and their bikes, I finally took the plunge and can’t wait to see what happens.

Until next time…

This blog will continue to chronicle my obsession with pro cycling, never fear. Follow me on Twitter here and check out my Tumblr.

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8 Comments

  1. anitabfranklin

     /  February 1, 2011

    It all starts with one day at a time. After 5 years of riding a pretty hybrid, I inherited my mother-in-law’s cannondale and in October started crosstraining on the elliptical to get an aerobic base. On Jan 1st, I did a 3 mile time trial on the trainer and thought I would die. I couldn’t sit comfortably on the bike for the next 5 days. Ibuprofen before the ride helps. Those sitz bones will continue to be sore. I got back on and tried to ride 20 minutes every other day. Eventually, within 3 weeks, I rode my first hour. When I finally got out on the rode this past Sunday, we rode for over an hour and a half and my girl parts still felt ok thanks to the trainer workouts. As of Jan. 31, I have exactly 100 miles in my legs. I really thought I’d have about 30 when I started. Hang with it and know you aren’t alone!

    Reply
  2. Two things, real cycling shorts will be your bestest best friends EVER, and don’t worry about clipless pedals your first year (just stick with straight platform pedals).

    Good luck! I”ll keep my fingers crossed for you.

    Reply
  3. TheBloomingCyclist

     /  February 2, 2011

    Thanks guys! i’m excited to actually be DOING something now, instead of just thinking or wishing about it.

    @bikezilla- don’t worry, i invested in shorts before i even got the bike! and i think i’ll switch to clipless pedals sometime before RAGBRAI in july.

    Reply
  4. Wow — from zero to RAGBRAI — good luck!

    Reply
  5. One more thing, and yes I know I’m being a pest, but it’s my special gift, so . . .

    Making the jump to clipless pedals right before your ride across the state is a big mistake. You’ll spend that ride feeding flesh to the pavement and end up with more scrapes and bruises than you’ve had in your entire life.

    Sure, in a few years you’ll look back on it and laugh, but do you really want your ride mates nicknaming you “scabby”?

    Again, please, for the sake of your lycra-ed booty, wait until next season to make the switch. Give yourself time to get used to being on the bike before you toss in the bloody frustration of adapting to clipless pedals, too.

    Reply
    • TheBloomingCyclist

       /  February 6, 2011

      Well, you let me pester you about Vaughters, so it’s only fair! I was actually planning on getting clipless pedals within a couple of months, once my wallet had time to recover! I’m a little scared of them, but can already see how they can improve my cycling, so I know if I want to use them on RAGBRAI, I need to give myself as much time as possible to get used to them!

      Reply
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