Sunday, June 30, 2013

Still not a "real" cyclist, but...

Last Sunday's non-race proved, once again, that my cycling skills leave much to be desired.  However, I have worked on them, really, and there have been small tweaks and moments here and there recently that "up" my would-be cycling chops, in my eyes at least!  And I do think that, year after year, I have improved on the bike, but incrementally rather than by the leaps and bounds that I would prefer.  So far, this year has been the year of the solo rides.  Because I'm still a bit self-conscious about my slow pace, I hesitate to join group rides.  And, because Michael's knee continues to sideline him from riding, my go-to partner from last year has been conspicuously absent on most of my longer rides.  I have found, however, that there is something relaxing about meandering along on the bike.  Perhaps this is why my speed isn't improving too much - I often tootle along rather than try to grind my way through a ride.

Still, I've hit a few milestones in recent weeks that I consider movement, inch by inch, to being a real cyclist one of these days.  First of all, I finally peed on the bike.  I know, too much information, and I'm not about to wax poetic about the experience or include details every time it happens, but being somewhere in the El Sereno part of Los Angeles and not a good stop in sight, the best option seemed to be to just pee on the bike.  The other milestone was my long ride today - 48 miles and about 4,900 feet of climbing according to the Garmin (so probably 46 miles and 4,500 feet, but whatever)!  Like my long run on Thursday, I was dreading this ride, and then before I left, I told myself how lucky I was to head out on a nice Sunday ride.  It was long and hot and slow, but mentally, it puts me in a good place as I think about the Vineman bike leg.  The route, Lower Big Tujunga up to Angeles Crest, is familiar from two rides in 2012, but this was the first time this year I'd ridden it and the first time going it solo.  It is a hard but wonderful ride as it feels so far away from Pasadena or Los Angeles but is easily accessible from the front door of our house.

I'd like to imagine that I looked something like this:

It was a long slog to the 2 (Angeles Crest Highway), especially with all those moments when I thought that I was almost there to only be disappointed as the road continued up, up and up.  I was happy to finally make it to the ranger/pay station - especially because I had a surprise in the form of Michael and Gus and Milo who had driven to that meeting point, making sure that I arrived safely and also trading a cold bottle (of water) for my empty one.  That was a nice break, but after refueling and stretching, I was ready to head on down.  I had survived the hardest part, and the descent was 9 miles of sheer fun!  Although a group of Porches passed me by on the climb up, it was early enough that there wasn't a fleet of sports cars or motor cycles zooming down, so that made the trip down, down, down much more enjoyable.  

In REAL cycling news, the Tour has started, and I missed today but definitely enjoyed the end of yesterday's stage which included some unfortunate bus manoeuvrings and a crash that involved some of the top sprinters - these were unrelated, by the way.  I love Phil and Paul who said that the bus situation was an 'embarrassment' for Corsica and also repeated what they say for every single stage "We've never seen anything like this!".  But a bus getting stuck - they probably haven't.

I'll probably miss more of the Tour this year than I would like (sad that I didn't plan my summer around watching TV from 4:30 - 8:00 am every day for 3 weeks), but Michael just sent me an excellent live feed from Australia that will probably be my go-to source when I can't see the stage.  Or maybe when I can!

Speaking of the Tour, after enjoying the Road ID commercials for much of last summer, I finally broke down and bought one, thanks to a hefty coupon that I had hanging around the house.  Seeing as I do run and ride alone for the most part, it's probably not a bad idea to have something with my name and at least one emergency contact number.  While I can/should include that information no matter what, I never did, except for my driver's license when biking.  So, I'm now more or less identifiable, should a mountain lion attack me on the JPL trails.  Hmmm...  That seems like cold comfort!


Kimra said...

It's so funny what makes one feel legit -- so congrats on your bike breakthrough, and of course I'm referring to the peeing, haha. Nice ride on the whole!

Kristina said...

Kimra - Yes, it felt like quite an accomplishment! Not sure that I'll be able (or want) to repeat the experience during a race, but who knows?

mindful mule said...

Hmm, I guess I'm not a real cyclist yet - and hope I never will be. We live 3 blocks from El Sereno if you ever need to drop by in the future.

I'm still undecided on Road ID but I might end up getting the one that looks like a bracelet so that people will think I've peed on my bike.

Kristina said...

I like the correlation of Road ID = peed on bike! I'm sure that Bob Roll would approve.

kilax said...

Good for you for getting a Road ID! I think we all should have them.

I was reading someplace else about the peeing on the bike thing. This fascinates me! I want to hear more. Ha ha. I get so dehydrated when I work out I rarely have to pee. I wonder if I would ever need to on the bike.