We did it! The 25-mile loop is now behind us, and what a glorious ride it was.
Circumstances have been wrecking our training schedule, so we had to take the leap this morning. We hadn’t yet come close to our goal distance and we were running out of time: The Dehydrator is next Saturday. Rather than over-train trying to step up incrementally, we decided to just go out and see if we could do it.
As it turns out, we can.
I’ve learned a lot about myself on my many cycle rides over the past few years: how far I can push myself before my legs give out, how anger at the wind can drive me to overcome it, how much I value (and need) the serenity of a quiet morning with just the sound of bike tires and birds. I’ve also learned a lot about other people, though the teachings haven’t been nearly as positive (or as much fun for me.)
Welcome back to the Ride Report! We didn’t have one last week because I was working overtime and didn’t have enough cranial power left for blog posts, but we also didn’t ride last week due to said overtime and crazy weather. Our training was cut short this week as well; Brian’s bike had a mechanical issue and caused him a gnarly wreck on his way to work Tuesday morning. He was pretty banged up and needed some time to recover, but we did get in a good, challenging ride yesterday morning because he’s such a boss. Here are the ride details.
After last week’s post I made an executive decision to round up the ride reports and plop them into the Sunday verbings so my friends won’t disown me. We ride three days a week, so here are the reports from our most recent outings.
Last year Brian decided to ride in The Dehydrator, a multi-distance bicycle ride set up each July to benefit the local high school band. Being a former band nerd myself, I felt it’d be a fun thing to do together and signed up with him. We ended up having a great time, even though we had to go the shortest distance to accommodate my healing innards, and we knew we would participate again this year. We started our training a bit later than optimal this time due to my pants-wetting terror of being chased by large bitey dogs, but we’re making great progress.
[My poor little garlic shoots are snowed under, except for this one hardy fellow.]
Our birds and plants have absolutely no idea what’s going on. In early January, we were bathed in 70 degree temperatures and covered by clear, sunny skies: a warm blanket of Solar Love. Late February has been a whirling dervish of ice, wind, and gray: an iron maiden of Frigid Hate. I’m ready for Spring.
This post has been a long time coming. It’s my own fault. I let my brain go on vacation for a few months while I tried to get back into the work groove and have had a hard time getting it to re-fire. Some days it’s as uncooperative as my bod. Some days one works while the other isn’t interested, and some days both are firing on all cylinders. The latter are not as common as I’d like at this point, but recovery isn’t always a linear process. It’s a bumpy, frustrating, rewarding pain in the ass. The rewarding part is what I want to focus on today.
Overall, I’ve had a pretty smooth, complication-free recovery. The surgeon cleared me to resume normal activities at my six-week checkup after surgery, so we decided to celebrate that weekend with a bike ride to see how it felt. We went a little over seven miles up some gnarly hills. While it wore me out, being able to push myself that far felt rather awesome. Given that performance, we figured I could probably handle the 10-mile route of The Dehydrator, the annual ride to support the Duncan Band Boosters, which was scheduled a little less than a month away. We had been planning to join this ride since last year and were excited that we wouldn’t have to skip it after all.
Training began immediately. We started riding several times a week, going a little farther each time while working on cadence and speed. Having a goal to meet and something to look forward to were good for my brain and, along with the exercise, helped me heal. I was having a difficult time keeping up with Brian on our training runs, though. When we first started to ride a few years ago, we bought a couple of “comfort” bikes from Walmart, and they were great to get us going. Then last year I bought Brian a Giant Roam commuter hybrid for his birthday and haven’t been able to catch him since. My old Schwinn was definitely comfortable, but it was not built for anything resembling speed.
So, as an extra bonus and birthday gift two weeks before my birthday, Brian bought me my own Giant commuter bike (a Rove) for the big ride. He had been saving up all year to take me to the bike shop and the surprise blew me away. This bike is sleek, light, and fast. I love it. Remember when you were a kid and your best friend let you ride his new bike while his mom wasn’t looking? Riding my Rove feels like that. The stupid grin on my face every time I get on it should be sufficient proof. Our training rides for the week and a half before the Dehydrator were made of pure wheeeeeee. I felt like I’d been fired out of a slingshot.
|Me and the Rove out gallivanting with hubs this past Wednesday.|
We were both excited when the day finally came, even picking up our rider packets the night before because I was paranoid about being late. We got up at 5:00 a.m. to make sure we were fueled and ready to go for the 7:00 a.m. start. The morning was unusually gorgeous for late July as we pulled into a half-filled parking lot just after 6:00. The sun rose over a fairly large herd of enthusiastic cyclists preparing for the different routes ranging from 10 miles to 82. The array of bikes and fancy road gear kept us entertained until it was time to line up for the start. We listened to the mayor welcome everyone, the band director thank us for our support, and a few other announcements (sadly no one said “gentlemen start your engines”), and then we were off!
I had been nervous about riding in a group with hundreds of other cyclists, but that actually turned out to be the best part. Everyone gave each other plenty of space, so being in that huge pack at the beginning fostered a feeling of good-natured solidarity. Nobody was in a hurry. And, to be honest, it gave me a brief little thrill to pretend I was in a race as all the long-distance riders went whizzing past me on their road bikes. Brian and I didn’t see many other people on the short route, but it was a beautiful morning for a ride and the ladies at the way-station cheered us on as we rolled past the halfway point.
We hung around after finishing our route and found out when we went in for the luncheon that I had even won a door prize (free bike maintenance, woo)! So, in addition to giving me free stuff, the Dehydrator got me out of the house, out of my head, and back into the world after a pretty crappy few months. Talk about doubly rewarding. And neither of us are super social people, but we really enjoyed feeling like a part of something positive at that ride. The experience is worth repeating, so next year will see us going for one of the longer routes!
Trial By Fire
Trial By Thermonuclear Fire
The Power of Choice
The Power of Fusion (Or When Two Become One)
There was a little more of a gap between Part One and Part Two than I would have liked.
As I mentioned in Part One, I was concerned about going into a local bike shop and being told (politely or not) that they wouldn’t be able to help me. I’m still a magnificently fat bastard, after all- 365 pounds is nothing to sneeze at, even if it IS a hundred+ less than my peak weight. That overwhelming fear of rejection and ridicule drove so much of my day that it was kind of shocking to have it rear its head so strongly again. It DOES still influence me deeply, and honestly, I am quite sure it always will. There will always be a little voice that says “You’re the picture people see when they think “Well at least I’m not as bad as THAT ONE GUY.” You’re the Worst Case Scenario.” That’s better than it was (seriously; I leave the house willingly now. I go shopping and walk the streets without prodding or bribery from H4rpy), but I have a lot of work to do still.
I was being a complete dumbass. 365 pounds of pure, Grade AAA, All American, Corn-Fed DumbAss. I knew I was. H knew I was. You ALL knew I was. So I told The Little Voice that I was going to sack up and do this, and if he didn’t like it, he could suck on a teabag.
We made the drive to Oklahoma City and were at the bike shop for all of 30 seconds before the owner we were supposed to meet came right out and greeted us. It was probably all of 120 seconds later (after a few questions to make sure he had his numbers right) that he led us over to a couple of bikes that he thought would do the job. I gravitated strongly towards one in particular, largely because of some options it had that I knew I wanted in my next bike (disc brakes and lever shifters, plus a better gearing ratio. I knew I wanted a hybrid because I was going to be mostly on the road, but I can’t handle the riding posture of a true road bike yet.)
He talked with us about the bike (a 2014 Giant Roam 2) for another 10 minutes or so while his crew got one ready for me to test ride (the one on the floor was a large frame, and he thought I would benefit from a medium frame since I have short legs but a very long torso.)(He was quite right.) I knew as soon as I saw it that it was the one- the price was right, the size was right, and it was a huge upgrade over what I had, but not a jump all the way to top-of-the-line (with the price jump that would entail.)
Once the bike was ready, we took it outside and I hopped on for a test ride. H saw the smile on my face and that was it- we knew we were coming home with it.
So for the last week I’ve been an insatiable monster, wanting to ride the new bike everywhere. No matter how much my ass screams about the tiny new seat, I scream back louder: “YOU WILL GET USED TO IT, ASS.” I feel like I’m cheating, because it’s so easy to ride and I can go so much faster than I could on my Schwinn (better gearing and larger tires.)
After having it for a week, I decided it was time to give the Schwinn an overhaul.
The Blue Bomber (and its sister, pictured above shortly after we bought them) has a fair number of miles on it, badly out of adjustment brakes, a broken spoke, an out of round rear wheel, and generally just needed a lot of love. So I spent most of this last Saturday working on it. I taught myself how to disassemble the rear freewheel, remove the cassette, install and properly tighten a new spoke, retrue wheels, etc etc etc. After I was all done, it was time to go for a test ride to make sure I didn’t ruin anything.
Something unexpected happened.
I fell in love with the Schwin again.
Don’t get me wrong. The Giant stays, and it will indeed get the lion’s share of my Ass->Seat time. But riding the Schwinn after riding the Giant for a week made the differences between the two immediately, SCREAMINGLY apparent. The Schwinn is indeed a comfort bike. It rides like a cloud, soaks up every bump, goes slow, handles like a tank, and is perfect for a leisurely cruise to the store to get some milk, or for a jaunt with H. It felt good to ride the Schwinn again- the Giant made me appreciate all the things that felt the same between them, all the things that were RIGHT about my Blue Bomber, and now I realize I didn’t just get a new bike for my birthday.
H got me two new bikes- the one I always had and had forgotten about, and the new one from the store. I love them both and I’m going to use them both.
In the next 12-24 months, those two bikes are going to take me down to 200 pounds.