Today I was too lazy to spend time kitting up for a long ride but I wanted to take advantage of the nice weather, so I just rode to Silver Spring so I could sit outside while I enjoyed a shake and read my book.
After almost a week and half of not being on my bike, I figured it was time to get back on. I blame most of that time off on the hurricanes- first there was Irene, then Lee, which meant we spent all of last week wading through water. Then once the weather cleared up, I had a friend visiting. Then when she left, I honestly wasn’t interested in riding- I was out of the habit and unmotivated. Often, if I go too long between rides, I start feeling anxious and antsy. But the past week, I’ve had no desire to get on my bike and even the good weather didn’t make me miss it much. I would say that I wished I could be on my bike, but I didn’t mean it. It felt a little weird- I’ve never had that happen before. It also made me a little nervous- was my love affair with my bike starting to fizzle out? Even though the day I took this ride I was super stressed out at from work and life, I had no desire to take a ride- which is often the first thing that comes to mind when I need some recovery time. I was tempted to veg out at home, once again instead of going through the hassle of getting ready for a ride. But a bike friend convinced me it would make me feel better and made me feel guilty about avoiding my bike. So I kitted up and headed out. And, of course, I was glad I did. Even though I left later than I should have, so I had to deal with tons of traffic, it was still lovely out and I got to spend a bit of time away from traffic on a little used trail. I could tell it had been awhile since I’d been on the bike- my legs felt the burn on the smallest of hills and my breathing was extra labored. But it was a good workout, I didn’t get hit by any cars and I’ve broken the couch potato habit.
I had intended to go on a group ride this morning. On Sundays, one of the bike shops downtown does a group ride that I enjoying doing. However, because I couldn’t get my lazy butt out of bed fast enough this morning, I missed the early train and they had already left by the time I got there! So I didn’t completely waste the effort I had put into getting ready, I biked home. So instead of getting 25 miles in toady, I got in 6. Better than zero.
Today Kiah and I rode out to Great Falls. It was quite amazing. Great Falls is an area where the Potomac river has carved through the bedrock and created a stunning section of rapids. I had no idea what the Great Falls were or what it might look like, so when we got to the overlook, my breath was just taken away. The amazing thing was how you look to the horizon and it’s just jagged rock and the raging river just seems to appear out of nowhere. Nature! (More picts here)
Not for me. No, I love Louise and don’t need a new bike. At least not yet. Today I helped my friend Sophie pick out a bike. We grew up together and ended up living two doors down from each other in the same apartment building. She’s been talking about getting a bike for ages and asked if I would help her pick one out. And yesterday we made it happen! It felt so good to be able to offer my knowledge to make her feel more comfortable. She was like me, doing research, research, research before she went to the shop, but, just like me, realized it’s about the bikes in front of you, not about the hypothetical “best” bike for you. The “best” bike is the one you ride that feels the best! Buying your first bike is super intimidating and I never would have bought mine if Shannon hadn’t come with me- just her presence was comforting! I was happy to pass along that comforting presence to Sophie and offer what little advice and prodding she needed.
When Sophie and I go on our first bike ride together, I’ll post a picture!
Well. It’s happened again. This month has been declared a #30DayofBiking month. I participated last time a #30DaysofBiking was declared, back in April. I enjoyed the challenge of coming up with new pictures to share and new stories to tell last time and decided I wanted to do it again. I got a bit lazy towards the end- taking pictures but not blogging them- so I only actually go up to day 23, even though I swear I biked 30 days. I’m going to try it again and this time make it to the end. I’ve recently moved and am looking forward to photographing and writing about my new haunts.
So. Today. You know how they say in cycling circles, “Go on a ride, it will make all your troubles go away”? And the generally accepted belief that cycling makes everything better? While in theory, I support and love this idea, in practice, I’ve found it not to be true. Sometimes, when I go out on my bike in a bad mood or a negative attitude, I just stew in the bad ju-ju and my bad mood just festers. It affects how I feel on my bike and how I see others around me. I even start to hate on my fellow cyclists- “Why you gotta ride like that?! Why don’t you ride the right way, like ME?!” And that was today. A lost wallet was the cause of such a bad mood and even riding around Hain’s Point with lovely weather was not enough to distract from my irritation at myself. So, while generally a bike ride can cure many ills, there’s no guarantee.
Check out all of my #30DaysofBiking posts here.
For those who have daily contact with me, or for those I’m friends with on Twitter, the way my life revolves around cycling doesn’t seem unusual- or at least it isn’t a surprise. For those who knew me during other phases of my life and have less than daily contact with me, this obsession might seem a bit strange and out of left field- I certainly wasn’t obsessed with cycling in college or high school and I didn’t even own a bike. So I thought I’d take a post to explain where it all came from. I’ve touched on my entrance into cycling in a few past posts and why it means so much to me, but here’s the official version.
Let’s set the scene: It’s 2010. July. I’ve finally finished grad school and my last paper is submitted. I’m only working part time, trying to find a job. So I spend a lot of time at home, watching TV. But it’s the middle of the day and it’s the middle of summer- double whammy against any good TV. So as I’m flipping through channels, I notice the Tour de France is on. I like France, and I liked to pretend that I knew anything about the Tour, and there’s nothing else on, so I decide to watch.
I recognized Lance, of course, and I recognized Andy Schleck from the brief viewings of the Tour the year before, when I was in France. That’s pretty much it. I immediately took a fancy to Andy, and his duel with Contador kept me tuning in day after day. And even though the Tour ended, my obsession with Andy did not. I started watching the Eneco Tour and even though I was quite confused as to why Andy was not riding with his team, I kept watching. I start understanding how cycling works. I continued to devour any and everything related to cycling- news sites, blogs, videos, YouTube, books, etc. Then the Vuelta a Espana arrived (another Grand Tour like the Tour de France, which takes place in Spain). By this time I was actually starting to understand how cycling and cycling tactics worked. This made watching the race even more exciting. When the Vuelta ended, I had a new cycling crush (Vincenzo Nibali) and firmly cemented love of cycling in my heart.
While all of this race watching was going on, I was becoming more entrenched in the cycling community on Twitter. Many of the people I followed were serious cyclists themselves. And I would read their tweets about their rides and their bikes and be a bit jealous. They were all so passionate about the bike- how it made them feel, how they felt on it, how they longed to be on it. I wanted that- I wanted to be part of that world and feel what they felt. I wanted to feel a love for an activity, a sport- something I’d never experienced before. And there was a bit of me that felt like a poser- writing and obsessing over cycling, but not actually owning a bike. I realize now this is silly, but at the time, I didn’t even like to admit I didn’t have a bike. These feelings, and Shannon’s encouragement, lead me to purchase my bike.
I know it’s clichéd to say, but cycling really has made a huge change in my life. I’m much more active than I’ve ever been. It makes me feel better about myself and my body. I (often) make better eating choices, as I hate the thought of “ruining” all the hard work I’ve done on the bike! While riding is exercise for me, I mainly ride because I love how it makes me feel and because it’s fun- and that really makes all the difference. I enjoy the kinship I feel with other cyclists, pro and otherwise- I can understand their pain and suffering on the bike and the love they have for their bikes. I now know what it means to have good leg days and bad leg days. I now know what it feels like to wish your time on the bike would never end and when it can’t end fast enough. I now understand how climbing, while painful, can provide its own set of enjoyments.
I’m starting to understand things about myself as well. I don’t like to suffer, but I can push myself even when I’m outside my comfort zone- mainly because I’m stubborn! I’m starting to realize where my limits are- while I like going fast up the climbs, mostly it just makes me want to die, so I’m better off going at my own pace, even if it means being off the back. I don’t dread climbing as much as I did (thanks RAGBRAI!), mainly because I’ve realized that climbing will never get easier if I refuse to do it. I have a hard time pushing myself when I’m alone, so group rides and training partners are best for me if I want to improve.
I’ve met some wonderful people through Twitter and my cycling adventures and I wouldn’t trade that for anything. Cycling is the one area of my life right now that truly makes me feel happy, even when it’s making me feel unhappy. I can’t explain why this is or what about exactly about cycling is so important to me, but all I know is that I want to keep doing it…