Friday, March 30, 2012

Finally a post about cycling

Truth be told. Cycling is my least favorite. This pic explains it all. Notice the look of death, the yellow jacket, the 10% grade sign in the back, and that I'm in the wrong gear. Yeah, that was a tough ride.

I think I'm pretty much over my fear of swimming; there is certainly more work to be done there. But, I'm not sure why getting out on the bike still feels like drudgery. The only thing I can figure is that cycling makes me feel out of control. It's no longer you against the elements of nature - it's you AND a bike, against the elements of nature. The bike, not to mention all of the gear (helmets, padded shorts, jackets, etc), can make or break a good ride.

The bike requires repairs: I have a starter Fuji that is pretty heavy, but was great to start training with. I acquired a real-deal Griffen racing bike from my boyfriend's co-worker. It has tri-bars and the whole kit n' caboodle, but it's probably 10 years old, and a little squeaky. I took it in to get fitted: aligning pedals, handle bars, saddle, etc for the most ergonomic ride. Now, after riding up Bonny Doon in the wrong gear, I know that my derailleur needs to be repaired. For those of you who don't know (because I didn't a week ago), the derailleur is the thingy that changes your chain between the big ring and the small ring. Time to take it back to the shop.

Cycling requires a lot of other stuff: I had to buy a bright yellow jacket to block the wind, and to be seen better by cars whipping by at 25-60 mph (scary). I now own a few pairs of padded running shorts/pants. I love my shoes that clip in, although I resisted for a long time. I also just bought a pair of gloves. Oh, I hate my helmet, but I'll deal with that later.

Cycling requires time: There is no "quick" bike ride really. Cycling requires at least 2 hours, if not an entire afternoon. I can whip out a run in 30 minutes a few times a week - no problem.

Cycling requires other people: I did a 21 mile ride on my own yesterday, out of desperation, but I really need to get out with other people who a) know good routes, b) know what they are doing, c) push me, and d) make the group more visible to traffic. Are you noticing that traffic is an issue? I'm glad that I found a great bike route near work that I feel pretty comfortable doing on my own! I also just joined a group for local rides on the Peninsula and South Bay.

All of these cycling requirements make me feel uneasy. There are still so many things to learn about riding a bike. Remember when you were a kid, no one ever talked about your "cadence" or "derailleurs" or shouted "Car back!" Cycling is some technical shit, and I still have a ways to go to be a more efficient rider. Oh, and how to change a tire.


  1. I called my derailleur "the gear shifter thingy in the back" to a bicycle guy the other day. It was like I was sawing a baby in half in public. Are you commuting to work on your bike? Is it even possible where you live/work? That's where I get about 80% of my workouts. God, I wish we lived in the same state! I need a riding partner, too!

    1. Unfortunately I need to be at work at 7:30am, and I need to look pretty, AND I like sleep. So, no I haven't gotten out of bed at 4:30, although there is a route to work. It's about 26 miles each way - and going through traffic signals in the dark is just not my thing. YET. I'm working on the courage. For now it's evenings and weekends. :)

      It thought it was de-railer. But that sounded so negative. It's kind of fun to pronounce it the French way. Derailleur, mon cherie! LOL!

      I agree. Let's move closer. For now, we will hang out virtually.

  2. Equipment really is key to cycling, much more than running or swimming. The parts that touch the bike come first, i.e. gloves, shorts, and shoes/socks, as well as pedals, saddle and bar tape/handlebar. Do the research and spend the money, when you start getting into those long, long, never ending miles, the last thing you want is your fingers or toes to go numb or to develop knee/ankle/wrist problems. Or worse.

    If you want more places to ride, hit me up. I train regularly on the roads south of San Jose. Lots of miles, rolling hills, some good climbs, and minimal traffic.

    And if you ever have cycling questions, don't hesitate to ask!