Monthly Archives: March 2011

What is a Triathlete?

I read a post recently that has made me question myself.  The author wrote that she had competed in a couple triathlons, but didn’t consider herself a triathlete because she did not put in the proper (well, more like ZERO) training into preparing for those races.  That just because you finish a triathlon doesn’t make you a triathlete.

This post has given me a lot of food for thought.  At first, I agreed, you shouldn’t be able to show up at a triathlon without putting your training time in and be able to call yourself a triathlete at the end of the day.  Anyone in reasonably good shape, could show up to a sprint triathlon and at least finish, even if they doggie paddled the whole swim or rode an old beach cruiser.  They finish a triathlon, but are they triathletes?

But then I started to remember what it was like during the early days of my running career.  I have heard it time and time again “You’re a runner as soon as you take that first stride, no matter how far or how fast you run….you’re a runner”.  So why doesn’t this apply to triathletes?  If you can all three sports, shouldn’t you be a TRIathlete???  I secretively considered myself a triathlete before completing my first actual triathlon.  I just didn’t announce it to the public.

The more I thought about it, I began to question my own athletic status…..”am I a triathlete?”  After all, I have only completed one triathlon, a pool sprint triathlon at that.  I started to become insecure in the fact that I haven’t done an open water tri, or a longer distance tri…..what do ironmen triathletes think about us newbies???  I train in all three disciplines, but have I put my time in?  I started to feel like an imposter next to some of the more seasoned triathletes.

I did a google search for “signs of a triathlete” and found this list on Tri Juice and found that I can check off over 90% of this list.

  • 25 – One of your goals this year is to be faster at getting out of a wetsuit.
  • 24 – You talk about a “hammer” and “brick”, but you’re not referring to construction.
  • 23 – You spend 7 days going to 8 stores in 4 malls before buying a pair of running shoes but you take 1 afternoon to go to 1 car dealership and walk out with a new car 4 hours later.
  • 22 – That charming “cologne” you wear to work is chlorine.
  • 21 – You have more water bottles than glasses in your cupboard.
  • 20 – You have enough pairs of old running shoes sitting in your closet to open your own shoe store.
  • 19 – You immediately bow down before someone with the Ironman “m dot”tattoo.
  • 18 – You have NO idea what to do with yourself on your off day. You mowed the lawn, cleaned the house, washed the car, and there’s STILL 4 hours of daylight left! Aarrgghh!
  • 17 – When you’re always showing up to work in the morning with goggle imprints around your eyes.
  • 16 – You have so many tan lines you look like a zebra (running socks, bathing suit, jersey, biking shorts, tri shorts, sunglasses, gloves, watch, etc).
  • 15 – The first three items on your grocery list are Gatorade, power bars, and gels.
  • 14 – You get funny looks when putting on Body Glide on your neck because people think it’s deodorant.
  • 13 – About half the shirts you own have at least a dozen logos on the back of them.
  • 12 – You wait a couple of days to take your car in when the “check engine light goes on, but when your bike needs a tune up you take it right away.
  • 11 – You refer to the front hall of your house as the “transition area”.
  • 10 – The one “suit” you own has a QR on the chest.
  • 09 – When you get home from a training session, the newspaper is just being delivered to your house.
  • 08 – You consider work, regeneration time between training sessions.
  • 07 – Your bicycle is in your living room.
  • 06 – Your car smells like a locker room.
  • 05. There’s a separate load of laundry every week that is just your workout clothes.
  • 04 – When asked, how old you are you answer 30-35.
  • 03 – Your first thought when you wake up is how high your rest HR is.
  • 02 – Your spouse cried during Terms of Endearment; you cried during the television coverage of the Hawaii Ironman.
  • 01 – Most of this list doesn’t seem like a joke to you.

I admit, I have not fully embraced the triathlete lifestyle.  I still resist early morning workouts, and sometimes resent my crazy schedule.  But today, as I gutted out a run under the midday sun in 82 degree heat, then hopped on my bike for more pain and torture, nearly puking from exhaustion and too little fuel…….I realized…..YES, I am a TRIATHLETE!  You can’t quantify what a triathlete is by how many workouts or how many races or what distance races a person has done.  I think I became a triathlete the moment I decided to do one.  It was more than just deciding to do a triathlon on a whim.  I was fully enthralled and mesmerized by all things triathlon from day 1.  My transformation was a slow one.  Being a triathlete is a state of mind.  I no longer think of myself as a runner.  (I won’t say just a runner, there a plenty of just runners that I idolize and could eat my triathlon butt for lunch any day!)  I am a triathlete.  I am obsessed by the multisport lifestyle.

And then I thought back to the atmosphere at the ONE and ONLY race I have done, and thought of my tri club.  I realized how silly this whole internal debate was.  Triathletes (for the most part) are the most un-judgmental and supportive group of people I have ever known in my athletic endeavors.  Sure they are competitive, but the tri community has been very welcoming and supportive to this newbie……never once questioning my so called status.  I have been welcomed with open arms, and recognized as a real triathlete.  Thank you!

So to those of you who feel like they are imposter triathletes…..I say it’s a state of mind, not merely a title.  If you love the sport and and are working towards a multisport goal, it doesn’t matter how much (or how little) training time, how many races you have under your belt, or if you have even completed an event…..you are a triathlete.

I am a triathlete!

Don’t forget about my Hydrapak Gel-Bot GIVEAWAY

>Out of the Frying Pan….Into the FIRE!

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Dear Lord…..what was I thinking when I made out my race schedule for this spring.  Over book much????  I just finished my first triathlon, although it was just a sprint distance, it took a LOT out of me!!!!  This Saturday I will travel to Charleston SC for the Cooper River Bridge Run 10K, then I get one week respite from racing and then Valdese Sprint Triathlon is the following weekend….geez, I. AM. A. DUNCE!!!!! 

I’m sure my current fatigue is due to many more factors than just the race itself.  Yes, the race was a tough physical effort, but I was (and still am) battling a little head cold, the bad weather was physically draining, and the mental stress took its toll on me as well.  I came home from work yesterday and took a 2 hour nap…..VERY unlike me.  Today I was still feeling tired and a little sick and really wanted to take another nap but I forced myself onto the bike.  If nothing else I needed to work some of the soreness out of my legs!

I had to fight the urge yesterday to tell everyone I ran into “hey, guess what…..I’m a triathlete!”  It seemed odd to me that no one could see the outward effects of the transformation……I mean, isn’t it obvious???!!!  I’m pretty sure my patients would have looked at me like I was an alien as most of them haven’t been remotely active in, oh about……NEVER!  I managed to control myself…..and only tell one person hahaha!

Is it a little weird that I am kind of sad to see my race numbers fading from my legs???  Yes, I shower!!!  Those must have been some industrial strength Sharpie they used for body marking, they will NOT wash off!!!

Man, my knees look rough!!!  Think I should have these numbers permanently tattooed on my thighs, is it a good look for me??? 

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>I. AM. A. TRIATHLETE!!!!

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1:27:31……

I pushed all my fears aside and overcame all the obstacles that got in my way.  In just under 1 1/2 hours, I made a magical transformation to a triathlete.  This is a long one kids….pop some popcorn…grab a beer and settle in. 

My partner in crime, Kim, is my OCD, over planning twin!.  True to form, we arrived at our hotel, checked in and unpacked a full 3 hours prior to the pre-race meeting.  We drove the bike and run course, checked (double and triple checked) our transition areas, and went over our race strategies a million times.  This was my bike’s race home, #460

After an (over) filling dinner at Carrabba’s, we went back to the hotel and went through our bags over and over and over again.  The weather was really throwing us off.  The forecast called for 70% showers and 39 degrees with 8mph winds at race time….YIKES!!!!!!!  Just walking around last night in regular clothing was uncomfortably COLD, I could not wrap my mind around what 39 damp degrees was going to feel like in a wet trisuit!  I have a feeling, during this summer’s scorching races I will be thinking “Cool Breeze Tri wasn’t so bad!)

I, surprisingly, slept well last night, except for dreaming that Kim was trying to make me eat salad and strawberry sherbet prior to the race.  We woke up at 5:30 and again, true to our OCD form, we arrived at the race site way too early.  But I would rather be way too early than rushing around at the last minute.  We got our chips and bodies marked, then dilly dallied around for a while.  Once it was light out we set up our transition areas.  I couldn’t have had a better spot in transition.  At the end of the rack, and right in front of the swim finish and bike finish.  I couldn’t miss it.  I had planned to rack my bike by the saddle, but everyone else on the rack was racked by the handlebars…..typical case of “if everyone else jumps off the bridge”, but it did make logistical sense, my bike would already be facing the bike start.  I needed all the time I could spare for T1.

Since the weather was really bad, my regular paparazzo (AKA, Mom) stayed at home with Haley, so I don’t have a ton of pictures.  But my dad and hubs came to cheer me on.  They literally showed up 5 minutes prior to my swim time, better late than never!  Prior to the swim we mingled with some of the other Lincolnton Multisport Club members there and watched the other swimmers and how they made their turns and exits.  I finally got in line to enter the pool and we had a little extra time to get in the water before starting.  I’m so glad I did.  The water temp was a little shocking, it took my breath away.  Our home Y pool is usually a toasty 87 degrees, today water temps were around 79.  So I tread water for a few minutes to try and warm up.  Luckily I found a familiar face at the swim start.  Our LMC president was volunteering and doing swim the starts.  It made me feel a little better knowing someone I knew was there to get me started!

There I was, two people ahead of me, 20 seconds before I would be starting my triathlon and I was so calm it was scary!  I replayed what our friend and swim coach told us at our last clinic….”treat this like it is just another training swim”, and I did.  Smooth, long, controlled strokes.  I passed a guy during the second lap and that got me off my rhythm a little, but I recovered quickly.  Wall transitions were a little awkward.  I wasn’t used to how the bottom of this pool was marked.  It wasn’t like our home pool with a solid black line.  Every time I would get to the end of the lane, it would sneak up on me and I would run right up onto the wall almost.  Towards the end of the 7th lap I felt a little toe tickle so I paused at the wall for a few seconds to let him pass, but I was happy that I was only passed once!  As I was coming to the end of the last lap I was thinking “crap, now the real fun begins!”  I was dreading the blast of cold air as I ran out of the gym.  I quickly ripped my goggles and cap off as I ran out into the cold.  Yes, it was COLD, but adrenaline must have taken over because I was not that cold. 

I knew T1 would be bad.  I opted for arm warmers, gloves, a rain proof (golf) jacket….um yeah, that sugoi jacket….NOT water resistant IN THE LEAST!!!!!!  I tested its water resistance last night in the sink and water went STRAIGHT through.  Glad I tested it!!!!!  I felt like a total TOOL in a golf jacket, but I was a warm, dry TOOL!!!  I did not want to wear gloves, I knew they would be a NIGHTMARE to get on.  But I rode for a few seconds in the parking lot to make sure everything was working and I was in the right gears and my hands FROZE within 2 minutes, no way I would make it 12 miles without them.  Just like I was warned, I was disoriented and dizzy coming out of the swim and during T1.  But I was pleased with how calm I was and how I made quick decisions.  My orange lens glasses fogged up as soon as I put them on….ditched them immediately.  My fingers weren’t working properly, I knew I didn’t have the manual dexterity to get my Garmin on….forgot about it (although it killed me to leave it!)  When I was finished in T1 I hesitated a little, I felt too easy, was I forgetting something???  I internally yelled at myself….GET YOUR ASS MOVING!!!!  I shuffle/jogged down the wet transition in my slick shoes, crossed the mount line and I was off……

Once I settled in on the bike, I began to think to myself “this FREAKIN ROCKS!!!!”  I began passing people, I was in my grove.  I started to worry though that I was pushing too hard on the bike and wouldn’t leave anything in my legs for the run.  Then it started, it was my turn to be passed.  But I’m pretty sure most of the passing was done by dudes on tri bikes.  I was still passing every now and then, and I don’t think I was passed by any chicks (chicks don’t even like to be chicked!!!) and I KNOW no one on a MTB passed me!  I was totally lost without my Garmin though.  I’m glad we had ridden the course though, so I had some sort of idea of where I was on the course.  By the half way mark, I began to feel the effects of the cold.  My legs were red as beets, my rump and feet were both going numb.  There were a few wind gusts that took my breath away.  But before I knew it, I was turning back into the transition area.  I got to the dismount line and CAUTIOUSLY got off the bike.  I DID NOT want to fall today, and guess what….I DIDN’T for once!!!!  But OMG…..my legs felt terrible.  I could barely get them to move.  Thankfully my transition area was directly next to the bike finish. 

T2 went a little more smoothly.  I normally wear a knee sleeve, but I didn’t even fool with it.  I did not want to wrestle with neoprene on damp legs.  As I was getting ready to leave T2, I realized I did not drink or eat ANYthing on the bike.  Thankfully this was not a hot day or I would be toast!!!  So I took a quick swig of my electrolytes and shoved a bag of Chomps in my pocket.  I hobbled (at best) to the run course. 

IMG_4907 The run course was changed at the last minute yesterday due to weather.  The course was now brutally boring.  Up and down the same street for two loops then an offshoot to finish at the walking track.  I knew this would be a tough course, it was ALL uphill one way and ALL downhill the other way.  I couldn’t take advantage of the downhill because I did not trust my legs to support me.  I tried to eat a Chomp, but at 39 degrees, they are basically solid, un-chewable bricks.  I sucked on it briefly then spit it out.  Hubs and my dad were standing on the sidelines cheering me on.  Hubs kept yelling to me that I looked strong.  I wonder how much he was exaggerating, I didn’t feel very strong. 

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My legs began to wake up about a mile in (again, I didn’t have my Garmin, so I was clueless to distance and pace), but my feet were still asleep and now painful.  I finally got comfortable at the end of the last loop and I let my legs just GO….carry me as fast as they could.  But also around that time, I felt like a cat was chewing on my ankle….damned timing chip!!!!!!!!!  Must buy neoprene timing holder thingy before my next tri!!!!  

Finally, I see the finish area, I kick a little…..I want to finish strong.  But then I hear the announcer guy say “oh no #460, you got someone chasing you!!!!!”  I turn slightly and see a blue blur behind me so I kick even harder to an all out sprint.  Pretty sure it was a photo finish.  I have no idea which one of us crossed first.

IMG_4919(near the finish line……BAD heel striking!!!)

Here’s a video of the finish…..overlook the shots of the ground and overall poor shooting.  My dad thought he was taking a picture, but got video instead…..pretty cool though!  Stick with it until the VERY end of the video, you’ll see us STREAK past at the end. 

I got a quick glimpse of the results sheet they had posted.  I think I finished 324 out of 720, not too shabby!!!  And finished 4th out of my division.  I opted for the Athena category.  Might as well use my hefty frame to an advantage right???  I’m curious to know how I would have finished if I registered in my age group, probably not as well!  Kim finished strong.  I couldn’t see the clock so I don’t know her time.  But her goal was to just finish…..she did WAY more than just finish……so proud of you Kim!!!!!!!!!  WE DID IT!!!!!!  HUGE thanks to all the volunteers out there freezing their butts off for us.  I tried to verbally thank each one I passed.  Also BIG thanks to BDD, I know I have been a pest these last few weeks, but you helped me immensely!

I am officially HOOKED on triathlon!!!!

I felt good….BETTER than good at the end.  The emotions of knowing what I had just accomplished made me feel INVINCIBLE, like I could accomplish anything!!!!  Kim and I were asking ourselves last night…..”why do we race if it makes us so miserable???”  THIS very emotion…….I know now…..this is why I race!!!!

>Who’s Your Daddy????

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As suspected….Hubs got himself a 5K PR today.  And he managed to do it even while having to stop during the first mile to remedy a wardrobe malfunction.  He wears a thigh sleeve to help with some hip/IT pain and since it was a little chilly today, his leg wasn’t sweaty enough to keep it on.  It kept sliding down so he had to stop, pull it off, and toss it to the side.  It was a very small field of maybe 80-90 people.  He finished 9th overall, second in his age group (although there were only 2 in his age group haha!) with a time of 20:54 a 6:58 pace.  The winner finished in 17 something.  He was a little disappointed to not break 20 minutes due to the wardrobe malfunction. But I’m still pretty proud of him.  Imagine what he could do if he actually trained!!!

Waiting for the start (hubs in the blue hat, white shirt, and calf sleeves)

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Supa Fast!!!!!

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Wardrobe Malfunction!!!!!!

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Haley has her COWBELL ready for Daddy!!!

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Digging DEEP for that last KICK!!!!

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Yay Daddy!!!  Haley wearing Daddy’s second place medal

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I will be hitting the road soon for my tri tomorrow.  Wish me luck and pray that the weather isn’t too miserable for us!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

>Let the Race Weekend (Maybe?) Begin

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Busy race weekend in our household this weekend!!!!  Tomorrow hubs is kicking off his race season with a local 5K.  You know, the guy who minimally trains but is wicked fast.  Yeah, that guy….sure to PR tomorrow without even trying!

Sunday I will be tatted up with #460 and entering the pool at 8:49:20 as a runner who starting training for a tri on a whim.  But later I will be crossing the finish line as a TRIATHLETE!  I haven’t even thought about or set a goal time to finish.  I just want to finish…..period.  I am oddly calm today.  The calm before the storm perhaps????  (Ironic choice of words)

Only one thing can stop me Sunday.

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The weather is not looking very favorable.  The hourly forecast shows 70% chance of THUNDERSTORMS at race time.  In that case they will delay the start time by 45 minutes, if we still can’t swim it will be changed to a duathlon, and if conditions aren’t favorable for that, it will be CANCELLED.  But I’m not going to freak out over this, its completely out of my control (duh!) why waste energy on it.

My head cold is passing.  I got back in the pool yesterday for my 3rd session of swim clinic.  I feel more confident with my stroke and swim endurance.  I am excited but READY to get this first tri out of the way.  I’ve told myself long enough that I CAN’T do it……now I’m telling myself that I CAN (smiles to BDD!)

P.S.  I am mourning the loss of my beloved DUKE BLUEDEVILS to U of A last night.  It was a poor effort on DUKE’S part, they just didn’t want it bad enough.  Mail me those Kleenex EMZ, you won’t be needing them!

>We Interrupt This Nervous Breakdown for an Important Message!

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If I can manage to stay up late tonight, I hope to distract my constant state of race anxiety with a little NCAA basketball.  I will be watching my beloved DUKE BLUEDEVILS advance to the elite 8

I am used to being an outcast as a DUKE FAN.  I don’t think any other team in the nation is so polarizing at DUKE.  You either LOVE them or despise them.  I am the black sheep of my entire family of UNC LOVERS (ewwww!!)  In reality…..I am the only sane one.  I have been a DOOKIE since an early age, way back in the day of Christian Laettner and Bobby Hurley.  I have endured more scorn and mockery than anyone should have to face in a lifetime.  I usually let it roll off my back….whatevs……DUKE fans have more class (or at least I do!) than to openly bash and belittle an opponent.  But a certain blogger has been chipping away at usual ability to look past blatant ignorance.  With pictures like these:  BLASPHEMY!!!!!!!!!!!!  SHAME ON YOU EMZ!!!!!

I couldn’t resist…..I had to inform the offending blogger that COACH K is a fan of hers…..he openly endorses her fundraising efforts.

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Hopefully she will retract her mocking pictures and posts and accept the defeat of her team U of A tonight gracefully.  

disclaimer:  I kid, I kid…..EMZ rocks….even if she does root for the wrong team.  COACH K may or may not endorse EMZ….I don’t know for sure, I (obviously….and poorly) MS painted the above picture. 

>Uh-Oh………

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“Taper Madness”…..apparently its a real syndrome whereby athletes loose their sanity while sitting idle waiting for race day.  I was not prepared for “taper madness”, no one warned me about it!!!  Heck, I’m not sure that I had even heard the term “taper madness” before a couple of you mentioned it in the comments of my last post.  I have heard that some people get a little stir crazy during marathon tapers, but, this is ridiculous!  I am driving my self bat-s&#t crazy! 

I’ve made my packing list, and fighting the urge to actually pack until Thursday night at the earliest.  But I did send the hubs on a scavenger hunt in Charlotte for my beloved Yankz today….but he ended up with Lace Locks.  I guess they will do (silent grrrrrr to myself!)  See anything on the list I don’t really need or that I’m missing?????

IMG_4841I had planned to ride an easy 10 miles on the trainer today just to move my legs a little a burn off some frustration, but I’m thinking I might not now.  My sweet, darling, little 3 year old angel has now become my germ infested, snot factory, little petri-dish.  She was blessed with my genetic predisposition to seasonal allergies, and the yellow cloud of pollen has descended upon the South.  She started with a runny nose this weekend, which I dismissed as allergies.  But now that innocent runny nose has turned into a THICK YELLOW/GREEN runny nose and cough.  At lunch today I got a slight twinge of scratchiness in the back of my throat, I tried to ignore it….maybe I am hallucinating due to “taper madness” but now the pressure has spread to my sinuses, the unmistakable sign of either head cold or beginnings of sinus infection.  I promptly took a dose of Zyrtec in case this is just allergies, chugged a couple bottles of water to help flush my system and downed some Airborne.  Hubs swears by it, but I really don’t believe that crap works, but I’m willing to do anything!  Even though I am not feeling full-force SICK, I think I will take it easy today, maybe take the dog for a walk at most.

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I’m also eating like a horse, and for no good reason other than I just don’t have the will power to say no to that insanely rich dark chocolate cake in the fridge.  Seriously, I need to throw it out before I eat the entire thing….single handedly. 

IMG_4843I am also having trouble sleeping, irritable, short tempered, and feeling a little down in the dumps.  All normal, so I have heard, for tapering athletes.  This is an awful feeling!

Am I driving you all crazy too?????  Ya’ll are probably as ready as I am for this race so I will just shut up about it!!!!!

>FREAK OUT!!!

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Less than a week to go before my FIRST TRI…..let the freak out officially begin!!!!

On the outside I appear to be my usual calm, cool, and collected self.  On the inside…..I’m a ball of nerves waiting to unravel.  Probably only those who are closest to me can even detect a hint of anxiety, I am notorious for hiding my emotions….too well sometimes. 

I feel like an unprepared college student about to take my final exams.  In my mind I know I have put in the proper training, but I still don’t feel prepared.  My tri mentor (BDD) advised me to not be stupid this last week of training.  Don’t try to fit in “one last hard ride, or one last hard run” because I would not benefit from it.  I resisted the urge to get in that one last long ride yesterday.  It killed me!!!  I felt like I needed it.  This week I am only doing a short ride and run and an easy swim.  And that. is. it….for reals!

I am in a tizzy about packing.  I’m that girl who is packed and ready to go a week ahead for vacation.  What can I say, it calms my OCD nerves….I think I will begin packing tonight LOL. 

Small details are consuming my mind.  I NEED Yankz!!!!!!  I’m obsessed by them, MUST HAVE THEM, but the nearest store that carries them is an hour away (damn gas hike crisis!)….how silly is that, I’ve survived this long without them, why do I need them now????!!!!!  I’m worried about running shuffling in my cycling shoes from T1 getting on my bike.  I can barely walk in them much less jog in them they are so slippery.  Will I bust my ass????  I’m worried about how bad my hair is going to look at the end of this madness.  How dumb???!!!!  Who cares how bad my hair looks (other than me?  But I am the girl who made sure she went to the hospital with hair “done” before having a baby!)  Where do I park?  I always have anxiety over where to park when I go to new places, not sure why.

I always have race anxiety, but this is 10x worse.  Every time I think about this race, I have waves of nausea.  Will I survive??????

>Changing of the Drawers

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Its that time of year again (at least her in NC), the time when you never know what to wear due to weather conditions. You dress for winter in the morning and summer in the afternoon. Its freakin’ annoying!!! I thought it was about time to change my drawers. And not as in my underwear…I do change those daily, my dresser drawers silly!. I am wearing more warm weather workout workout than cold weather gear now a days.

The winter apparel is now resides in the plastic bin under my bed.

Say hi to Lazy Catz in the background….AKA lumps of black fur.

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And my summer clothes now take the main stage in my dresser.

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I am, however, unlike 95% of the population. I am NOT happy about the changing of the seasons. I HATE summer. I hate the heat and humidity, I hate waking up at 6a.m. in order to avoid inferno conditions…..but its still 80 degrees out. I much prefer cold temps, my threshold for comfort is about 70 degrees, above that….I’m an UNhappy camper!

Are you excited about the summer, have you changed your drawers yet?

>My (harsh) Intro to Group Rides

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I saw {this post} today on the Daily Mile blog and it made me laugh, but sent a chill up my spine at the same time. I was “that girl” last weekend. I went on my first small group ride last weekend. Boy have I got some things to learn about cycling, rules of the road, riding etiquette, and hand signals. I wish I had some pictures to share, but I’m still not sure if cycling culture is like running culture where us runners take pictures at any given opportunity….I’m thinking the answer to this question is NO.

It was a smallish group, probably 15 of us. The most I have ever ridden with is 2 other people. It was about 50-50 girls and guys. There were some obviously seasoned veterans who have probably been riding more years than I have been alive and a few newbies. Riding in a group is not a “no brainer” like group running is. I learned that lesson very quickly. As we pull out of the parking lot I took my spot behind three other guys leading the group. As we cruise through the small downtown streets and go through the first busy intersection, I must have made a biking faux pas. Within a 1/2 a mile later my friend Kim pulled up to me and said “hang back, somebody wants to talk to you.” I knew right away I did something wrong. Forgive me nice older gentleman, but I cannot recall your name….but I think he is the “Papa Bear” of the group, making sure that everyone is safe and no one is left behind. Papa Bear pulls up beside me and says “If you’re try to keep up with these guys, you need to stay sharp, don’t trust their judgment, ride deliberately. That rabbit up front…he’s good, but he can be reckless, stay near your brakes if you’re behind him. BE SAFE!” He never did say what offense I committed though.

The group quickly split into a lead pack and a slower pack. I was with the lead pack and we tried to keep stopping for them, but soon Papa Bear suggested we just go on and get in the workout we wanted and they would just have a leisurely ride. Kim and I stuck with the lead pack, we’re just gluttons for punishment I suppose! I hammered down for the next 27 miles chasing after the guys up front. I pretty sure this was a leisurely ride for them, but for me it was pretty tough. It was pretty windy that day blowing me all over the road and there were some moderate hills. It felt like our average speed would have been a lot better than a measly 15.1mph, but there was a lot of stopping and starting that might have drug our average down (although my watch is set to “auto-stop”).

As we pulled back into town, I began to have a false sense of pride about my longest ride to date and also being able to keep up with these more experienced riders. Just as my confidence peaked, we came to a stop light at a busy intersection. I unclipped, and felt the all too familiar sensation of loosing my balance followed by the inevitable FALL. Yes ladies and gentlemen, I fell…..yet again…..IN FRONT of these other riders and half a dozen motorist. How embarrassing!!! But I quickly got out from under my bike and back in the saddle. And good think I did this quickly, the others were going with or without me. I felt like road kill LOL!!! They reassured me that it happens all the time, but why have I not witnessed it “happening all the time”??!! Seems like I’m the only one falling ALL. THE. TIME! But I do have another badge of honor to add to my “wall of falling fame”.

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