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)
  •     Helmet
  •     Cap
  •     Sunglasses
  •     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.