February 8, 2009

Maiden Voyage

Almost 6 months after crashing my bike and 4 months after bringing my new tri bike home, I finally took it out for its maiden voyage. I was terrified. I've been simultaneously wishing for and dreading this day and it was finally here. It was in the mid-50s so I had no excuse.

Given my discomfort with being on the bike, I woke up as early as possible so I could beat the crowds. I stood in front of my building on this beautiful morning and just couldn't find the courage to clip in and go. I must have stood there for minutes before finally taking off. I've never ridden my bike outside. I've never ridden a triathlon bike at all. And I've never ridden on aero bars. When you ride in aero, you can't have your hand near the brake. If your hand is near the brake, you can't change gears. So you have to learn to smoothly switch between the two. I started out slow and easy and stayed out of the aero bars. In fact, the first time I got down on them it just happened automatically. I was riding uphill on the way to Prospect Park and suddenly found myself resting on my elbows on the bars. I finally felt comfortable enough to try and just did it. All in all I'd say it was pretty intuitive, but the ride is a bit jerky at first. Given the fact that a handlebar jerk caused my crash I was a little hesitant.

I rode very cautiously on the first loop and took a quick break to see how I was feeling. I got a little more comfortable on the second loop and went straight into the third. With each loop I got more and more comfortable. It was an incredible feeling. I felt like I was facing a huge fear head on and finally taking steps to get over it.

I was able to stay in aero about 75% of the time, but it hurt my neck and back so long stretches were tough. Plus the park was getting more and more crowded so there were times I just couldn't do it. And speaking of crowded, I got drafted a few times. This never happened in Central Park. I'd get this feeling someone was right behind me and sure enough, there would be some guy decked out head to toe in Team Discovery gear hanging on my back tire. I know what they were thinking: "Oh, there's a girl with a Cervelo, she must know how to ride." So they'd pedal up and draft for a bit before realizing I actually ride like an old lady. That got rid of them.

Old lady or not, I did it and that's all that matters. It was a huge milestone for me and by far the hardest thing I've had to do in a long time. It's time to let go of my fear, try to forget about my accident and learn to love biking again.

Distance - 20.15 miles
Time - 1:23:39

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