When I decided last summer that I wanted to give triathlons a try, I borrowed my Dad's racing bike to give me something to get started on. We're the same height and figured size would be about right. When I was terribly uncomfortable on the bike and had a professional bike fit, I found out the bike was too big for me and no amount of adjustment was going to fix the problem. I continued riding the bike into last fall but had already starting saving up money for a new one. This spring, I plunked down a whole lot of cash and bought my new bike.
Now I'm not really a cyclist. I've gotten better but am still not a confident rider, and when I ride it is with specific training goals in mind. But since I invested so much in my new seriously awesome bike, I'm determined to change that. I'm trying to look at cycling as its own sport--not just the event in between the swim and run, and so on Saturday, Mike and I headed to Westminster, MD to participate in the Eat a Peach Challenge bike ride. There are 5 different routes ranging from 12-100 miles. On the way up we settled on riding the 40 mile route. The ride was absolutely beautiful and at times so peaceful, I didn't feel like I was only an hour away from the craziness of DC but far away on vacation somewhere. The ride was filled with peaceful tree-lined roads:
Or wide open farmland:
We rode by horses, ponies, cows, an adorable Bassett Hound, an 18th century church the size of my living room, and some beautiful views. For the first 30 miles of the ride, I had an absolute great time and enjoyed the hell out of my new bike. It's not that easy to get good shots while moving, but here I am:
Those 30 miles were certainly not easy. The area around Westminster is know for its rolling countryside. There was plenty of up and down, some decent size climbs, and very little flat road. But I was okay. I managed up the hills pretty well, and even though there were one or two I thought I was going to have to walk up, I was always able to push and make it to the top due to pure determination that I will become a cyclist.
The last 10 miles are where I broke down. There was a long gradual climb that I fought up, followed by short but steep hill. My legs, calves, shins were all screaming at me, but I kept going. I started to dread the descents because they were inevitably followed by a climb, and while during the first part of the ride, I would get all determined when I saw a hill approach, now I felt like I wanted to cry. But on each new hill I dug even deeper and found a way to keep going. Mike was doing a great job of cheering me on and I was determined to finish strong. We hit a nice downhill, which worried me and sure enough suddenly a huge hill loomed in front. To make the situation even worse, there was a stoplight at the base of hill--red of course--so we had to start that climb with no momentum. This was a bad turn of events for me. I started up the hill, inching little by little, but my legs were killing me, my shins and calves were burning, and I finally gave in, hopped off the bike, and walked it up to the top.
I was terribly disappointed in myself. We finished the last couple of miles, which were mercifully easy. Mike was very positive and continued to congratulate me on a great ride, but I kept looking at him like he was nuts. I had failed; I had to walk up a hill. See this is my problem--I only see what I didn't do, not everything I did accomplish. He was right. I rode 40 very challenging miles; so what if I walked my bike up half of one hill?
I'm trying to use the experience as a lesson to myself: determination can be great--it helps us do the best we can and then push ourselves to do even better, but in the end, if we fall a little short, there is still progress to be proud of.
And to put that into practice: while I didn't get as far as I wanted on my Goodale sweater this weekend (yup, I had to sneak some knitting in), I'm going to feel good about my progress on Leyfi:
perfectionist tendencies and kept going with this one. So what if I can't wear this for months when I could wear Goodale now? I never said anything about the progress making sense. That can be next week's lesson to myself.