18 August 2008

One year ago...

*I wrote this last night while watching the Olympics, so it is from yesterday's perspective.

My body is completely thrashed and it feels wonderful...except for the staggering around with very sore legs. I was lying in bed, trying to wake up from a nap and was thinking about how sore my legs are and I realized several things.

Almost a year ago, I went for a long ride with my friend Sherry. She was getting ready to head to Madison for the Ironman and I needed to learn some routes for riding my bike in IL. We met on a Saturday morning at the trail on Raab Road and we headed out to ride around Lake Bloomington. This was my first real ride on my road bike. I remember thinking, "this should be too bad," but I wasn't sure how it would go.

Sherry and I started riding and she set the pace around 16 mph or so. She showed me the different turns and the house where the dog runs out to chase bikes. We made it out to Green Gables (they make fabulous cheeseburgers) and then headed around the outer loop. I had forgotten my water bottles back in UT, so I only had some Accelerade in some bottles with screw top lids. This meant I could only drink when I was stopped. Did I mention that I hadn't figured out how to drink while riding? I also had a really goofy helmet (they're all goofy looking, but this one was especially funny) and I had some toe strap pedals, except that I couldn't really get my feet in them while riding, so I usually rode with my feet on top of them. I think I may have managed to get my feet in the toe straps occasionally, but not very often. We made it around the outer loop and I was tired. The route is very flat, but I was feeling every single little slight incline. On the way back to the car, my legs were cramping up, I was really tired of sitting on that rotten, uncomfortable saddle. I was tired and just wanted to get off the bike. It seemed like forever. I made it through...but it was not pretty.

This morning, Sherry and I met at Raab Road and headed out to Lake Bloomington for a 3 hour ride. I've been staying up way too late watching the Olympics and I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have done the ride if I was going by myself. This was a completely different ride than the one a year ago. Sherry ran 17 miles at a very quick pace and I struggled along at a much slower pace for 10 miles, so we both started the ride with not fresh legs. I had my new, less goofy looking helmet, my big girl pedals and shoes, water bottles with Heed, my Bento box with Shot Blocks and electrolytes...oh, and probably most importantly, I had some bike mileage and training under my belt or in my legs might be a better way to say that.

So, yeah, we headed out to the lake and were cruising along and I was feeling pretty good. We rode around the outer loop, just like last year, and then Sherry showed me the inner loop, which might have been my favorite part of the ride. Then, we headed back to Green Gables. Sherry suggested that I do the outer and inner loop again, and she would do the outer loop, and we would meet back at Green Gables before heading back to our cars. It was so gracious of Sherry to offer to do that and I really pushed myself and had a fantastic ride. I have learned that I love to ride fast. Sherry's husband Howard came out on his motorcycle to be our own personal SAG wagon and he was riding next to me at one point and said, "Are you having fun?" I think I smiled and nodded my head, but inside I was grinning from ear to ear (didn't want to eat too many bugs or have bugs in my teeth) and doing the happy dance.

Sherry headed back to the cars a few minutes before me and I rode hard to catch up. We chatted a little bit here and there and talked our legs into pedaling up the inclines to get back to the trail before we arrived back at the cars. When I got off my bike, my legs were seriously wobbly and I was thinking about the race next weekend and wondering how in the world I am going to run 7 miles after a 36 mile ride. I'm so glad that I got to get out and ride today. The weather was gorgeous and I truly loved being on the bike today.

As I think back to my ride a year ago and compare it to my ride today, I can't help buy smile. I don't have any quantitative data or proof that I've improved on my cycling, but it sure feels like I've made some huge improvements. I rode in my clipless pedals with absolutely no problems at all. There were no tipovers. I ate my shot blocks with absolutely no issues and even managed to drink two bottles of fluids. I rode in my aerobars. My cornering has improved tremendously and my hill climbing and gearing is so much better than it's ever been. My confidence has increased and like I mentioned earlier I am really learning to love riding. I'm actually looking forward to my next ride... What a difference a year makes!