Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The ride of (for) my life

Tonight I had a 10 mile bike ride on my schedule. I may have mentioned before that I live in a really small community – it’s barely 6 miles square; so long bike rides have been a problem for me. I either have to start in and ride around another town or I have to ride on the country roads around here where people drive fast and there is no shoulder. I certainly can’t ride on those kinds of roads in the dark (I wouldn’t even if I had a caltrans set of super lamps traveling over the top of me the whole time) so, when we got home late tonight (BART delays – AGAIN) and I was facing riding in the dusk, I knew I was going to have to figure out another route. As soon as we got home, I got changed, kissed my hubby and headed out on my bike. The idea I had was to ride a circuit around the outside of our community (about 6-7 miles) and then do part of another circuit to total 10 miles. The ride started ok, I was fighting a cross wind, but riding around here, (where the wind is always blowing) I’ve gotten used to it. I made my first turn and hit the headwind; this was my chance to do ‘hill training’. Since there are no hills on my planned circuit, I shift my bike into a low gear and hit the wind like it’s a hill. It’s quite the workout! I made the next turn and just kept on riding. Things were going great, just as planned. The next turn took me onto the busiest road on my route – Byron Highway. Hubby and I had scoped out this road before. Although it’s a highway with a posted 60MPR speed limit (which means people go 70 to 80), it’s got nice big shoulders, and we’ve seen people riding on it before so I had figured I was good to go. As soon as I turned I realized that things weren’t going to be as easy as I thought. On this side of the road there was construction going on and there were big cement barricades in the shoulder. It looked like it was only for 100 yards or so, so I went ahead, and kept going. Only, the barriers didn’t stop! Now I was worried. I was on a highway, were cars regularly ZOOM along at ridiculous speeds, at dusk and having to ride in the road with a cement barrier between me and the safety of the ‘non-road’! So I started peddling as fast I could. Surely the barriers would end soon. I peddled, and peddled, praying that no cars would come. My lungs were burning, my legs were shaking and still there was no shoulder and OH NO! a car was coming. I could hear the tires of a giant 4X4 coming up behind me, and fast! And worse, there was a car coming in the opposite direction! I hugged the barrier as close as I could and was practically riding with my eyes closed waiting for the truck to pass me. It did, and as you might already guess, I survived! As much as I wanted to stop I had to keep going, and going fast, I wasn’t to the turn off yet. I finally hit the corner, made the turn and slowed down. My legs were shaking so bad I couldn’t even stand on my peddles and I was gasping for breath, feeling a little sick from the air in my tummy I had sucked in. And yet… I felt fantastic! I had pushed myself harder then I ever thought possible and survived! The rest of the ride I was in a cloud of euphoria. I hit the wind tunnel and pushed my legs again. I weaved my way through the neighborhoods back to home and finished up at 9.6 miles and it took me a little less then 40 minutes. The best part was getting home and looking at my GPS download. That section of road that I pushed through was 1 mile long and I didn’t drop below 20 MPR the entire time! For me – someone who was struggling to maintain 11 MPR on my rides a few months ago – that’s a BIG DEAL! Now remember, 7 months ago my idea of a 'workout' was walking up the stairs to go to bed at night. And that used to make me out of breath. And yet - here I am doing 20MPR bike ride! I'm not AT my goal, I'm not in perfect shape but I'm doing it. I'm getting out there and making improvements every day. It took me starting out 'running' 1 minute and walking 90 seconds at first. And getting on my bike and barely managing to ride 3 miles @ 8 MPR before I was exhausted and my girl parts hurt so bad I couldn't pee afterwards. (I've since done a 30 mile ride - it was so much fun) It just takes one step. Do as much as you can do TODAY, and then tomorrow take two steps, and then next day three. If you say "I can't" then you're right. Don't place those kinds of limits on yourself!


  1. Great job getting out there. Be safe and maybe you can teach those folks something about the rules of the road.

  2. Lesson learned: do all bike workouts with a 4x4 on your tail ;)

    seriously though...GREAT job! and I agree it's not CAN'T, its choose not to.

    what progress you are making!