I’m a cycling newbie. I did one triathlon last year. It was a fundraiser for the YMCA I belong to. It was VERY beginner friendly, non-competitive, and had fewer than 20 participants. Until three weeks before the event I hadn’t ridden a bike in about 30 years. That’s right, I trained for a whopping three weeks for the cycling component. I borrowed a bike from a friend. I didn’t know how to change the gears. There were two steep hills on the bike course, which I’d only ridden once prior to the race. The hills were too much for me, so I took the walk of shame to crest them. I hope you have a vivid mental picture of my performance. But you’d better believe in less than 48 hours after finishing, my car was sporting a “tri” sticker.
Fast forward to this year. I bought a bike on Memorial Day. It’s considered “entry level” but the baby has 27 gears. I’m bad to the bone.
There’s a group of fantastic, supportive people I ride with each Sunday morning. We meet at 6 a.m. and ride for an hour and a half, allowing me to get home, showered and off to church. I’ve ridden with them four times this year.
This week we took the same bike route as last year’s triathlon…the route with the two hills. I’d been on the first hill already this season. It is the lesser of the two evils and I already knew I could make it. But the second hill…just looking at it made me doubt myself.
I’m still learning the ends and outs of the new bike. As I approached the hill I managed to get the gears positioned as they should be for such a climb. I decided I was going to cycle up the hill or die trying. I didn’t have to look at my heart rate monitor to know that my poor little cardiovascular system was working over time. I pedaled as hard as my stubby legs would let me. My quads burned. Would I make it?
I did! I choose to bring up the rear of our cycling convoy. Those ahead of me stopped to wait for me. I told them ahead of time I might take another walk of shame. But instead, I was only seconds behind them. They cheered. I fist pumped.
It was a great way to begin the week.