I started really cycling again last summer, after about twenty years. I rode a lot in high school: not great distances, but on a very regular basis. Last summer was mostly about building up my endurance, regaining fitness, and getting used to riding in general. Over the winter, I used the trainer at least a few times a week to keep somewhat in shape.
Using the trainer sucks, by the way. It is nearly as boring as watching paint dry. I learned that without any assistance, and I am dreading the months that I won’t be able to ride the roads this winter. I have decided to ride outside for as long as I can stand it this fall. I am a wimp when it comes to cold wind, so we’ll see how long I last. Anyway, I digress…
This summer has been about getting faster, improving fitness, and maintaining my sanity. I have gotten faster, I am in better shape, and my sanity is more or less intact. I didn’t set out with the last particularly in mind, but cycling became the perfect outlet for my frustration in the job search and life in general. As a bonus, I learned some new skills from my riding friends, and reached a couple of milestones. They may seem silly or insignificant, but they are milestones in my head.
- I can ride down a hill and take my hands off the bars (insert, “Look, Ma, no hands!”) This might be foolish, but it’s all about feeling comfortable on the bike and having improved balance.
- I can ride down a hill or on flats and corner easily just by moving one knee. I learned this one from watching Andy (and I later asked Suzanne, too)…outside foot down, inside knee just needs a slight outward movement, and you can take a pretty tight corner. While staying upright. Without falling, even.
- I rode a Metric century. I originally wanted to complete a century this year, but didn’t do it. That’s ok, though, because my total riding for this summer was many more miles than last summer.
- I can do a trackstand now. Whoohoo! I can’t maintain it for very long, but it’s pretty handy when I don’t want to clip out for what seems like the hundredth time on a ride with lots of stops. A trackstand was my fun goal for the summer: not an essential skill, but handy.
I have learned some things about myself, as well.
- I don’t particularly like to suffer, but sometimes suffering through a ride feels good.
- I am allowed to ride just for the fun of it! I have pushed myself during many of my rides this summer, and yesterday’s ride was specifically about enjoying the day and the chance to ride in beautiful weather. I rode faster and better during yesterday’s ride than I have on recent training rides.
- I will always stop to save turtles in the road: I saved another baby snapping turtle yesterday. In fact, I didn’t just stop, but turned around and went back to save it. Softhearted, I guess.
As always, every ride is a good ride…