A few weeks ago I told my husband that I was condering a triathlon. “Okay, when?” “Oh, I think I want to do it soon.” I then kept bringing up the fact that I didn’t have a bike and that maybe I should get a bike. I kind of thought he would be pleased with this idea because he has been trying to get me on a bike for a long time. You see, my husband is a bike lover. He worked at a bike shop during college and he had biking buddies. It is actually quite surprising that I haven’t really attempted to ride a bike in his presence during the 9 years that we have been married.
So, let’s see when I last really went for a bike ride. My husband let me use his mountain bike while I lived in Kodiak, Alaska (when he was living in Florida). For the most part, that bike stayed stafely tucked away in my quaint little cabin (oh, it was such a cute little cabin). I couldn’t really ride in the snow right? And I couldn’t take it with me when I was deployed on the ship. Yeah, I might have gotten on that 2-wheeled thing about 3 times during the year and a half I was stationed there. Let me see, that was about 9 years ago.
So, yesterday we pulled out one of my husband’s triathlon bikes. Yes, he has more than one. He is the triathlon man and I am the marathon woman. Not sure if he likes me stepping into his territory, but he doesn’t need to worry about me trying to show him up. I will be lucky if I can ride a bike down the street without crashing.
I can tell that this is going to be a long process with an overwhelming amount of information. I sat on the floor as he propped the bike up on the trainer. We had to get it to fit my body and that was going to take some adjustments. He told me to change my clothes and I ended up with pants that were too loose at the end. “Those are going to get caught in the chain.” So, I hiked the pants up to my thighs. Then he brought me his shoes. Yes, we wear about the same size. Sad, I know. I put them on and then straddled the bike. I had always wondered how the shoes snapped onto the pedals and I was soon going to find out. Hey, it was way easier than I imagined! I snapped them in and out over and over again until I felt like it was second nature. There was no way I was going to get out on the road without feeling confident enough to break free when a crash is imminent! I guess I should stop talking about crashing or else my husband might not let me borrow his bike.
Then I sat my rear down on the seat, I thought “this can’t be right.” I re-adjusted my rear, but nothing changed. It hurt. It really hurt. The seat was digging into me and it sucked even more as I started pedaling. As I pedaled, my upper body tensed as I tried to keep my rear slightly lifted off of the seat. My husband told me to move forward on the seat, but the only thing making it even slightly tolerable was the fact that I was sitting on the back of the seat. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to ride the bike unless I had a different seat. A seat that was meant for women (hey, it is much different down there). I also realized why cyclists wore padded pants.
As I leaned forward to grab the handle bars, we realized that my torso was just a bit too short. Sorry, but most of my height comes from my legs. He tried to re-adjust the bars to come closer to me, but that failed. We would have to purchase another part (okay, I don’t remember the name of the part) in order to bring the bars closer, making the ride more comfortable. That, with the seat, should make it a little better. We shall see.
So, today we went to the bike store with our 3 kids in tow. It is always a pleasure to take your kids to a store… I was told to sit down on a seat that could measure my butt bones so I did. Wouldn’t you know, it showed that I needed a seat that was shaped differently than the one my husband used (I probably have a wider rear). Of course they didn’t have shoes that fit my large feet so we had to order them. Lastly, we realized that I needed a helmet. There are 4 helmets in our house, but none of them belong to me. Even my kids ride bikes! The first one I tried on was the right one. I tried on about 5 more just to be sure, but it was the first one that fit my head just perfectly. And it just happened to be purple.
I started talking to my husband about the difference between road bikes and triathlon bikes. I was so clueless, but I had heard once that road bikers (I guess cyclists is a better term?) don’t like to ride in a group with triathlon cyclists. Being that I was clueless, he said that it isn’t proper etiquette when the triathlon rider brings his or her body all the way down because then that defeats the purpose of taking the lead. But I was told that they can ride together as long as the triathlon rider sits up. Okay, but I was still kind of worried that I would be outcasted if I wanted to go on a group ride with some biker friends. Not that I have many biker friends right now, but who knows if I will ever get any when I show up on my triathlon bike. It might be similar to a walker showing up to a group RUN… I have no idea.
Then I started asking about the actual triathlons. “Are people allowed to ride road bikes at a triathlon?” “Yes, they can ride whatever they choose, but a triathlon bike has more of an advantage over a road bike.” “Okay, but could you ride a triathlon bike on a century ride?” “Depends on what type of ride it is because some of those aren’t actually races.” Then I started asking about drafting and how that works in a triathlon. He told me that you can’t draft and they have very specific rules. I think he was getting tired of all of my questions so he finally told me that I needed to read the rule book. A rule book? When I go to a marathon I just run. I kept trying to think about all of the “rules” of running, but maybe it was just proper running etiquette that came to my mind. People don’t always have etiquette (like the run/walkers might just decide to stop dead right in front of a runner). But I guess with these rules you actually have to comply or else you get booted off the course or something. I suppose I better read this book. It all sounds very complicated. And I haven’t even gotten the bike to the pavement yet.