An experienced cyclist (and client) wanted me to ride with him during the pandemic.
Read the story below
Chapter One: The Beginning
The last time I’d ridden a bike didn’t go well. It was during a Sprint Triathlon in 2005. A Sprint Triathlon is a race that has a swim, bike and run component to it. A client was in training and asked me to do it with him. The race was the next day. As a 45-year-old and an avid runner, I thought “Sure, why not, what could go wrong?”
As I started to get ready that afternoon, I realized my bike at that time hadn’t been ridden in 15 years. The tires wouldn’t hold air. What to do? I asked many friends for a loaner but none had a road bike. I finally found one. It was a women’s bike, and it was quite small. When handed lemons… you know how it goes.
The first portion of the race was a ¼ mile open ocean swim. The last time I’d swam was in a pool and it was a couple of laps, followed by some sun-bathing. I got in the ocean, took 3 strokes and my surgically repaired left shoulder told me it wasn’t going to happen. Plan B. Side stroke for ¼ mile open ocean swim. Yuck. I finished 630 out of 660 racers.
Then came the ride portion that went “okay”. I finished 500 out of 660 racers on a tiny women’s bike with wide tires. Thank goodness there was no bell, basket, or streamers of the handlebars.
Lastly came the run. I finished in 30th place out of 660. Race over, bike returned.
On to February 2020 and my client wanting me to ride with him. As the President of a Virtual Personal Training company and an avid runner, I thought, “I can do this”. Little did I know what I was in for.
As a runner, all you need are shoes, shorts, a tank top, and maybe a water belt with some flasks.
With cycling, my client sent me a quick rundown of what was needed:
- A road bike
- Cycling shoes
- Cycling pedals
- Cycling cleats to hold the cycling shoes to the cycling pedals
- A cycling computer
- Radar system (so you don’t get hit by a car)
- Cycling shirts (long and short)
- Cycling pants (short and long)
- Cycling gloves (short and long)
- Cycling jacket (rain and wind)
- Heart rate monitor
- Water bottles
- Nutrition solutions (before you ride and after you ride)
- Tools (seat bag with tubes, Co2 Cartridges, and a patch kit)
- Hand pump
- A light for the handlebar
- And a very understanding spouse
As I discussed the associated costs and the training time commitment with my wife, she said “If it makes you happy, go for it”. She knows me well and that when I have a new challenge, I tend to go all in.
Off I went to area bike shops and online to find all the equipment I need to get started. There were no bikes available due to the pandemic, so I had to look elsewhere. A friend told me to look on Facebook Marketplace and OfferUp. I found a road bike that was my size, and it was very light. I didn’t know that could be an issue. It was a Time Trial bike, which means it was used to ride a road course very quickly. Not a great bike to start with, especially for a person who weighed 196 pounds. What did I know?
Over the next few weeks, Amazon was coming to our home daily with package after package and I was trying to figure out how to put all the equipment onto my bike and get it road worthy.
I was ready to get right out and find the open road. My wife, thank goodness, told me to, “go ride a few times in our community to get comfortable”. Thank goodness I listened. After taking time to figure out how to get my shoes into the pedals, I forget they’re locked into the pedals, stopped, and fell over. Painful lesson number one of many to go. I felt like a baby deer taking its first few steps.
Step one: complete. I rode around my community of 2.5 miles without falling.
Lesson one learned: Taking up a new sport at any age requires education, trial and error, investment of time and money, and it can be incredibly motivating!
Lesson two learned: The strength and flexibility I’ve developed over the years helped me more than I realized.