All posts in category The Solo Ride
Where I get back on the bike
Today was the first time I went out on my bike for a real ride since getting sick over the weekend. I might have waited a few extra days had an excellent opportunity not presented itself. A Twitter friend was in town and wanted to get together for a ride. I couldn’t pass up a chance to meet some Twitter peeps, so a meet up (or “tweet up”, if you will) was arranged with Bob*, Chris (@cycleboredom), and Ryan (@TheEpicRide, who I didn’t realize had answered Chris’ tweet about our ride until after he’d left! So I thought he was just some random guy who decided to ride with us.).
We planned to meet up at Hain’s Point (which, incidentally, is where I had my first group ride). About an hour before we were supposed to meet, I got SUPER nervous. I felt like I do before a first date- a sick stomach kind of nervous. I think this came from two things. One, I have no idea how my fitness level would compare. I always get nervous when I ride with new people because I never know how my fitness level will stack up to theirs. I think this is why I’m also nervous to do group rides. I really want to do group rides, but I hate getting dropped, and always assume this will happen when I ride with new groups. As much as this goes against the logic that riding with these groups will help me improve so I don’t get dropped, we’ve discussed before how humans (me) are rarely logical. Moving on. The second reason I think was so nervous was because I essentially was going on a blind date with these guys. Twitter/social media creates such strange relationships- I know these guys, but only as much as one can know someone through the internets. While I would consider myself to be friends with these guys, how much can you really be friends with someone you’ve never meet face-to-face? Who knows if we would actually be able to interact in the real world.
So I set off from work to find out. I didn’t ride to work, but brought it on the metro that morning. Which meant I had to leave extra early, so I’d be off the train by 7, after which bikes are outlawed for the rest of rush hour. Luckily, my ride down to Hain’s Point after work helped calm my nerves some. And I’m sure we all know how this story ends: we meet, it was great, everyone was nice, we were able to have a conversation longer than 140 characters at a time and without the help of a Twitter middle man.
But it was more than that, because Chris and Bob were super awesome. They were both super excited and impressed with my doing RAGBRAI, which made me feel good. In terms of our ride, it was a great workout for me. Being with those guys made me push myself further than I normally would’ve gone- I never would’ve done 31 miles by myself, at least not at that pace. It was a fabulous ride, I almost didn’t want it to end- mind and legs said “more!” but my saddle said, “enough!” I hope more cycling tweetups are in my future, because this was awesome!
*some names have been changed to protect the innocent. Mainly, me. Being associated with him is social suicide.
Posted by TheBloomingCyclist on May 1, 2011
Proof of Puncture
Back tire off!
Is it weird that I was strangely excited by my first puncture? Because that’s how I felt when it happened today. It hadn’t started out as a ride to get excited by. Despite having a bit of a scratchy throat, I decided to go out anyway. And that was a mistake. The heavy breathing and colder, wet air just killed my throat and lungs. Not to mention the whole still unresolved saddle issue. So halfway through I called it quits and headed home (still got 20 miles in, though!). In the way home, I heard the unmistakable hiss of a tire going flat. I was close enough to home that I just decided to walk the bike home and change the tube there. So I don’t think I’m a proper cyclist yet, as I think that doesn’t occur until one has changed a tire on the side of the road.
I would give you a play by play account of how I changed my tube, because that’s how excited I was about this puncture, but I’ll refrain. I will say the two instances when I felt the most proud was when I got the back wheel off and when the tire bead popped off the rim.
So, why was I so excited about this puncture? Mainly, I knew it had to happen eventually and I just wanted to get it over with. In theory I knew how to change a puncture- my LBS gave me a crash course- but theory is a lot different than real life. I was nervous to have to do it myself on the side of the road. So I was glad it happened when I was close enough to home that I could just do it there.
I like knowing how my bike works and being able to fix things on my own. I don’t mind taking it into the shop for bigger things, but I don’t want to take it in for every little thing. So knowing how to fix a puncture is one more thing I know how to do on my bike!
Posted by TheBloomingCyclist on April 25, 2011
Tonight’s ride was throughly dissatisfying. I was uninspired and depressed when I got home. I do not like feeling this way. And I don’t like that it was my bike that made me feel this way. I think part of it was because I was not interested in doing my regular route. I’m bored with it and I need to find something new. Also, I’m still not comfortable on my bike. I’m not sure if this is something that can be fixed through more tweaks, or something I just have to get used to. I don’t enjoy being on my bike as much as I have because of the discomfort. I don’t look forward to my bike rides. Was I expecting the bike fit to solve everything? Yep. Unrealistic? Maybe. There has been improvement, but I’m not convinced I can do a long ride without serious pain. I’m going to do a real ride either tomorrow or this weekend and see how I feel. And then go back to the shop to see if they can fix me.
Posted by TheBloomingCyclist on April 22, 2011
My long delayed and much anticipated bike fit happened last night. Much anticipated because of my excruciatingly painful saddle and long delayed because of my anxiety about said bike fit. Now, logically I would not be apprehensive about an activity that would increase my comfort on the bike. However, human beings are usually not logical and I am no exception to that rule. I think the unease stemmed first from not knowing exactly what would happen at a bike fit and then the fact that I am still not 100% okay with how I look. Silly, I know, but since I had no idea how a bike fit would go, I was nervous about being scrutinized while I was on the bike, in my not so flattering bike clothes! So instead of acting like a sensible being, I continued to suffer on the bike, all to avoid whatever potential scrutiny might happen. Now you know that I avoid things that I’m nervous about when just confronting those issues would make the stress over those issues go away. Somehow, even the knowledge that just confronting issues head on will give me peace of mind and heart is not enough to get me to actually take any action.
But I digress. What motivated me to finally call the bike shop was a little cut in my tire that I discovered when I was out for my ride on Sunday. I was thinking I needed a new tire, and was afriad to really ride until I had it looked at. So I finally called to see about going into the shop. So now you know about the part of my personality which only allows me to get things done in a timely manner if I have a hard deadline (RAGBRAI is another example- that hard deadline got me to finally buy a bike). And I think we all know how this story ends- the bike fit was fine, I didn’t feel uncomfortable or scrutinized, and I was nervous for nothing.
I’m not sure if I can convey to you the amount of pain my saddle caused me. I have never been kicked in the nuts, so I can’t say how it compares to that. But I can say that it felt like a small person was stepping on my crotch with all their weight. Getting rid of this pain apparently wasn’t going to happen with a few minor adjustments. We talked extensively about where the pain in my lady bits was happening. Basically, I was not sitting on my sits bones at all- my lady bits were supporting my whole weight on the bike. I don’t know if this is my fault or the bike’s fault. In the end, the saddle was exchanged for a new, wider, saddle to accommodate my large butt (or rather, my widely placed sits bones, common in women), with the saddle tilted back a bit and a shorter stem to force me to put more weight on my sits bones.
I don’t think this fit fixed the problem. There isn’t as much pressure on my lady bits now, but there still is some. I have to actively push myself back to relieve the pressure and sit totally on my butt. It was hard to judge how much of an improvement these adjustments made, as I was already pretty sore from sitting on the saddle for the duration of my bike fit. The rides I do in the next few days will tell.
(side note: tire was fine, didn’t need to buy a new one. And the guy inquired if I had a trainer, as there was so much wear on the tires. I said, nope, I just ride a lot! He seemed impressed.)
Posted by TheBloomingCyclist on April 22, 2011
Post bike fit ride. It was quite lovely out and the trails weren’t that busy. On my way back, I rode behind a bike pulling a trailer. We had one when I was growing up and I remember using it to drag my siblings around, to deliver papers, to get groceries for my mom. We got rid of it ages ago, but seeing this one today, and @cycleboredom‘s shot towing his kid, made me miss it a bit.
Posted by TheBloomingCyclist on April 22, 2011
No good picture from today, so you get this instead
Today I rode my bike to the store for ice cream. I’ve been having major sweet cravings lately- especially for ice cream- and could be denied no longer. I tried to justify a trip by trying to come up with a grocery list for the week, but was unable to take my mind off of the delicious ice cream that I was soon to have in my possession long enough to concentrate on the task at hand. So without even changing out of my work clothes, I headed to the store. Despite rolling up my pant leg, I still, as @cycleboredom likes to say, got hipster on my pants. But it was worth it, because the ice cream was delicious.
Posted by TheBloomingCyclist on April 21, 2011
Today the weather walked that fine line between spring and summer. The wind had a bit of a nip to it, especially if you were in the shade. The sun was warm, but not with its trademark summer scorch.
This weather has helped me understand the point of armwarmers. When I started my cycling adventure in the cold winter months, I thought, it’s either cold and you need a coat or it’s warm and you don’t. Arm warmer wouldn’t be useful in either situation. But I forgot about the weird transition period between spring and summer. When it’s cold and hot at the same time or it’s cold when you start but warm 15 minutes in. Can’t take off a coat if it gets warm or carry it in your back pocket! So think I’m gonna invest in some armwarmers.
Posted by TheBloomingCyclist on April 19, 2011
Do I look like I just rode 30 miles? Because I feel like it.
Like Iowa. Except more trees.
Today I embarked on a epic journey (for me, anyway). I decided it was time to tackle a longer ride by myself. So I decide to do the Patuxent Wildlife Preserve Loop, found on the Bike Washington website (and pointed out to me by Shannon). It’s marked at 25 miles, but I went about 30, thanks to some unexpected detours. And I think it went pretty well. The route was great- it was hilly enough to challenging, but not hilly enough to be soul crushing. It followed some well traveled roads with nice wide shoulders and empty back roads. I didn’t do the whole thing without stopping but it still only took me 2 hours. I was a little nervous- I’d never ridden that far before and it was a country road route, so I’d be a long was from anything if something happened. But it was great. Discovered a chapel founded in 1861. Took a break by a cabin built by the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps).
It wasn’t all awesome, though. It’s been awhile since I’ve taken a longer route and I forgot to bring any food. I did eat lunch before I left, but it clearly wasn’t enough! I did make one wrong turn, but only one and I quickly realized my mistake. The last 8 miles were pretty yucky. I was tired, there was a nasty crosswind whenever the surroundings opened up and I just kept wanting the ride to be over. Then on the metro home, I found a slice in my tire. Whatever it was didn’t puncture the tube, thank god, but now need a new tire. Boo.
But I made it and in the end felt pretty good! I was happy I hadn’t tried to ride the trails today- my friend Olivia did, and said it was crazy busy with the nice weather.
Posted by TheBloomingCyclist on April 19, 2011
Today the weather was beautiful. This was a good thing because a) who doesn’t love riding in perfect weather and b) I was super stressed out when I left work. To be honest, I’d never really used the bike as a stress relief before. But today when I left work, all I could think about was getting on my bike.
I find biking to be, in turns, contemplative (when I mull over an issue that’s been bothering me), meditative (when I commune with nature and the bike), and relaxing (when I listen to a podcast and just ride). Today’s ride was definitely in the relaxing category, as I rode to leave behind all the bad jou-jou of the day. I listened to an episode of The Flamme Cast and remembered what really matters in life.
Posted by TheBloomingCyclist on April 15, 2011
I rarely bike in regular clothes. I think this is mainly because I rarely go out on my bike for errands. Even though I don’t have a car, I often just walk to places I need to go. Right now I mainly see my bike as exercise. And I’m still a little nervous to take my bike places and leave it locked up for long periods of time!
Anyway, all this is to say that I indeed did use my bike to get groceries last night and rode to the store in jeans. Mainly because I wasn’t in the mood to take a longer ride nor did I have the time- I needed to go to the store, Survivor was on at 8, and Shannon was coming over for gourmet grilled cheese. So I rode to the store in jeans.
Posted by TheBloomingCyclist on April 14, 2011