Thursday, April 2, 2015

All the heart (and courage)

Riding outside. Just. Whoa.

The weather in the PNW is taking a little swing toward spring, which has resulted in a few nicer afternoons and mornings to ride outside. This is good for so many reasons, not the least of which is: I AM TERRIFIED of being outside! Well, that's not wholly true. I'm fairly comfortable and confident and giddy to be outside, but there is still so far to go. So. Far.

First of all, I adopted a bike. My faithful roadbike, Baby, has gone to stay with my mom while she gets into cycling. I love my bike, and I didn't intend to part with it, so as long as she is in the family, that's what matters. Of course, I also re-homed my cat to my mom and she hides whenever I come over, so we'll see, right?
Hey hey new bike

I am now riding a Felt DA4 that I got from a friend of a friend. This bike is pretty darn gorgeous, but boy is it a learning curve. Riding on the trainer is one thing. Taking it outside, I looped the block and came back shaky. It is just not the same. I know I will get used to it, and I'm loving the bike, but it's still an adjustment. That's just the honest truth. I expected to jump on and be like "BEST EVER!!" and while I seriously love it, it's still new. Fortunately, I still chat with the previous owner regularly, and she assured me she missed her road bike for the first few rides too, and on her new bike now, she misses this one. It's a bonding experience! I have yet to name my new little stallion because nothing has occurred to me yet.
Changing the rear tire. Bike wins round one. Bonding at it's best

All that background said, I've ridden outside 4 times now. Two recovery rides, and two longer rides (one that ended back on the trainer for the last 50 minutes because holy gusts of wind!). Again, in honesty.. I expected to get outside, and be fast! Effortless! Flying! ... I was not. I'm still not. It's super windy around these parts now, so there's been that to struggle with, but I had this expectation in my head of being super fast once I got off the trainer. That all the watts and leg burning intervals I've sweated through this winter would pay off. I was a little discouraged. Disappointed. Plagued with self doubt. Add to that the fact that my ironman boyfriend accompanied me on a few rides. He hasn't ridden in 5 months, and he was still easily dropping me.
Maybe it's the glasses slowing me down?

Then I did some research. I started looking at rides from last summer/fall where I had used my heart rate monitor. And I saw it. The heart. My heart is SO MUCH STRONGER! On all 4 rides I've done outside, I'm 20-30 bpm lower than I was last fall. That is huge! Huge! I pay so much attention to my heart rate (and watts) that my speed is contained to that (and at the mercy of the wind/pedestrians). I rode 65 outside miles last weekend, and my max HR was 165 up a hill (or possibly when I flipped my bike and went over the handlebars... I can't really confirm-and that's a whole 'nother story!). My average was in the mid 130s. So I looked back. Last fall I rode the large (and yes, hillier) loop of the IM course. I rode 32 hilly-ass miles, with an average HR of 161. Wake up call. My avg from last fall is now my max that I hit for a few seconds or minutes. That is how far I've come. That is where my strength has grown.
Sunshine, loaner jacket, big miles for me!

But the courage part? That will take some work!! I am utterly terrified of descending outside. It took a long time to get comfortable on my old roadbike, and now I'm learning all over again. Everyone goes through this right? I sure hope so. I know I need to practice, practice, practice but boy it gets in my head a little. I try to remind myself there are grandmas who can ride this IMCDA course, and if they can handle it, surely I can! At least I've worked up the courage to be able to grab my water bottle though-the first ride I didn't bring water, and there is no way I would have been brave enough to let go and grab the bottle.
Post long ride I came home to this treat from my man friend. Best way to end any ride.

Building my heart and courage, a mile at a time!

Have you had to adjust to a new bike? Was it scary?

How do you find the courage to just let go and fly down hills? Does nobody else visualize themselves skinless in a hospital!? Just me?

1 comment:

  1. I remember when I bought my tri bike, the bike store wanted me to test it out in downtown Portland and I refused to go out on the streets and ride (I was so nervous). I ended up circling around a parking lot twice and saying yes. Not because I was super comfortable, but because I just wanted to get off. It took me a while to make a comfortable transition from road to tri bike, but once I did, I much prefer my tri bike to road bike now. It will take time, but one day you will be out there and everything will connect. And you will fall in love. ☺

    As far as descending… I much have the mindset now that if I crash going any speed over 20mph, it is not going to be pretty. I used to really struggle with going downhill and it took riding with others and just letting go of those fears to be able to do it comfortably.