Friday, May 22, 2009

For the Love of a Bicycle

I started riding bikes about 5 years ago because of a boy. Not to chase after one, but to get one out of my head. I was 23, young, dumb, had been dumped by my first serious boyfriend in a move I never saw coming. I wandered in a haze of sadness for months before deciding it was time to find something to occupy my life. I had the horses of course, but as I was working at a barn at the time, there was still free time left I needed to fill.

On a whim, I loaded up my fathers Target Eddie Bauer bicycle in my car one weekend when visiting my parents. The bike was a touring bike that weighed about 800 lbs but at that point, I did not know any better. Actually, I really knew nothing except that riding my bike the 8 miles to the barn and back in the middle of a Texas summer made me feel tired but alive. I would be gasping for breath and sweating, but I was doing something.

Probably two weeks in, I decided I wanted to ride in the Hotter N Hell 100 in Wichita Falls. I had done this ride as a child with several of my family members and always viewed it as the absolute center of everything that was bicycle. I had a few months before the ride so I just kept pedaling and started building up some endurance.

Somewhere in the middle of this, I met another cyclist who was a “real” rider. I showed him my bike and looking back at it now, I have no idea how he kept a straight face as he looked at the monster I was riding. He did make some comment about how heavy it was but in my ignorance, I had no idea what the problem was with that. He also did not laugh at me when I made comments about how outrageously expensive bike shorts at Academy were for $30. I was shocked when he told me I could get a good entry level bike for about a grand. Seriously? Bikes were a hundred bucks at Wal-Mart. Silly boy.

Long story short, I ended up doing the 50 mile race with one of my brothers and was ignorantly blissful as I chugged along on my clunker and wished at the end I had signed up for the 100K. I was thrilled and could not wait for the next year.

What began because the ending of a love started a whole new one and in so many ways, a much healthier one. Horses will always come first as far as hobbies go, but I love the simplicity of bikes. They don’t get their feelings hurt if you don’t see them for a few days and they are always there for you when you need to blow off some steam, enjoy a beautiful day, or just be. In many ways, bicycles really saved my sanity and for that, I will always be grateful.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Dear Editor

A letter I am considering sending to our local paper. It is doubtful they would publish it, so I am putting it here.

Dear Editor:

It is beautiful days like this that make me very grateful that I am able to make my short commute to work by bicycle. It is a wonderful way to wake up in the mornings and is very relaxing for me to pedal home after a long day at my desk.

What is not wonderful is how drivers in this town continue to make bicycling here terrifying. I understand that sometimes it is frustrating trying to get around a cyclist when you want to go much faster than they can pedal, but I assure you that that person is doing everything they can to get out of your way because they have no desire to by run over. There are limited bike lanes here which make it more difficult to get around town safely. A small amount of patience is appreciated when the person pedaling in front of you ifs trying to do something for their health, for the environment, and even their wallets as they try to save gas.

An issue I would really like to address is the constant honking at cyclists for whatever reason the driver finds necessary to do so. First of all, it is rude. Second of all, it scares us when you come roaring up behind us and blare your horn. I understand your hurry, but if you run over a cyclist because you startled them while they were riding; I assure you that you will be detained even longer by the mess you have created on the road and hopefully by the police as well.

I would also like to address the men who feel that they need to hang out their windows and yell when they pass me and other female cyclists. A few small points:

A) When you pass me and yell out your window, all I hear is “Hey……hfdisojhfkldsjioasyruihhjfnds” as you fade away and pass me. I am sure you are telling me something very clever and eloquent, but it is totally wasted on me.

B) Please, on the off chance that I understand you, please do not yell anything to me that you would not want yelled to your mother/sister/girlfriend/wife. If you don’t have any of these people in your life, take a step back and think about why that might be.

C) As you lean out of your truck window with your ears flapping in the wind, you resemble a dog hanging his head out of the window. Except, dogs are cuter and it is socially acceptable for them to drool and be the animals they are.

One last thought to leave you with, please remember as you rush somewhere, you most likely will not die if you do not get there in X number of minutes. However, I stand a decent chance of it if you do not slow down and pay attention. Just show cyclists the same courtesy that you would want someone to show you and we can all share the road and everyone will get where they need to be safely.


A Commuter Cyclist

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

No Drowning and a Year Older

I did my first lake swim in a triathlon and DID NOT DROWN!! Yay!!! So, I really think this whole team thing rocks! I did my swim, got my biker off and then got to chill for an hour! I was able to get dressed and go get coffee and wander around in plenty of time to come back and watch our runner take off! Ok, so maybe that is not how I always want to do triathlons, but it was pretty cool because once I got through the swim, I just got to relax. I think it was good just because I was so nervous about the swim so that is the only thing I had to concentrate on.

This was a small race (about 150) and so it was a mass swim start. A guy warned me that at the first buoy, it would be mass chaos but it would clear out after that so just to work my way through it. I did just that and even hung back a little at the start because I had no desire to get kicked trying to fight my way through. This was also my first wetsuit swim and I am going to have to work on that a lot more because I really felt uncomfortable having the collar around my neck while I tried to swim. I am not sure if it was the wetsuit or I was just panicking but I could not get my head down in the water and just swim and breathe like I needed to. I ended up forgetting everything I ever learned in my swimming lessons and had my head out of the water 90% of the time. I am a little frustrated about that, but there was never a time when I really thought I would not be able to make it. It was slow (15 minutes for 500 yards), but I did it and even better, I know I can swim better and much faster next time.
The coolest part of the whole thing? Actually getting to see the fast people come in and out of transition! I have never gotten to just watch before so that was way cool watching different people come in and out of transition. I think I learned a lot that way and am in serious awe at how freaking fast some people are. Our team finished 3rd out of 3, but I think we did awesome and had a blast! I would not mind doing another team triathlon, but I think next time I want to do the bike. The course has some wicked hills, but I think I would be stronger on the bike than in the swim!
After the tri, I got kidnapped and taken to Santa Fe, NM to celebrate my birthday. It was a total surprise and a very fun way to spend a and does not get a lot better than that. A good way to start the last year of my 20's! Or, as I refer to it, the first of many 29th Birthdays!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Various Freakouts

I am signed up this weekend to do a sprint triathlon as a team and I will be doing the swim portion. Now that I have my wetsuit, there is not reason to avoid it. I finally tried it on after eyeing the box suspiciously for a few weeks. The good news is that is does fit. The bad news is that I will never be a superhero because being encased in rubber is SO not the look for me. Anyways, it is my first lake swim and my palms get all itchy and sweaty just thinking about it. So, we are not going to discuss it anymore until afterwards to avoid possible panic attacks.

Monday is my 29th birthday. I will be doing a birthday challenge of some sort in the vicinity of that date. (how much more vague can I get?) This birthday is bothering me a little because in my mind I am entering the very last of my twenties. One of my friends suggests a "30 things before 30" list of stuff I would like to accomplish in the next year and so that way when I hit 30, I will not be freaked out but feel accomplished when I finally get there! It is a good idea and I will be working on that. I am sure there will be several small things on there, but I would like to come up with some really good creative things as well. Go outside the normal and all of that. I am thinking a 70.3 will be somewhere on the list. If I don't drown on Sunday of course. :)