I'm absolutely clueless when it comes to riding a bike for fitness. I bought a pretty nice hybrid bike in 2011 when I had maintained my weight loss for a year, but I've only ridden it a handful of times. I honestly just don't enjoy bike riding very much, probably because I'm so nervous about getting hit by a car or getting a flat tire. But I want to like it, because I know that the cross training will be good for my running, so I'm hoping that if I do it more often, I'll get more comfortable with it.
|Old photo: this is my bike when I first got it in 2011|
Anyway, I figured I'd do 16 miles--the same 16-mile route that I ran when training for the Chicago Marathon--from my house all the way to the State Park, around the 5K loop at the park, and then back home. I packed a backpack with some stuff that I thought I may need: water, gloves and a hat (it was 39 degrees), some money, and my phone.
I went to my parents' house to start the ride, because that's where my bike was. The tires were totally flat, and I couldn't find an air pump anywhere. My parents have two large garages, so I spent a good 30 minutes searching for an air pump. Finally, I called them to ask my dad where it was (he was helping my brother move some people out of a house he just bought--a story for another day!). My dad usually uses an air compressor, which I didn't feel comfortable trying to use, so his options for manual pumps were really limited. One was a pump for a football or something, and the other was SO old that it was all rust. It basically disintegrated when I tried to use it!
I was getting really frustrated--here I was, actually wanting to go for a bike ride, and I couldn't. My final option was a manual hand pump that I have attached to my bike. I've tried using it before with no luck, so I wasn't sure I could get it to work out. Using the little hand pumps like that are a lot of work! To make a super long story a little shorter, I messed with it enough to where I finally got air in the tires. Not enough air, unfortunately, so I had to keep adding more until it felt okay.
Next came time to put on my helmet. You would think a helmet would be the simplest part of the whole adventure, right? I probably spent another 15 minutes rearranging straps, tightening and loosening, and trying to get it right. It felt weird, especially on my forehead, but I figured that was just because I had to get used to it.
Finally... FINALLY... I was ready to ride.
I wore my Garmin 910XT because I was curious to see what my speed was. It was actually pretty slow going at first. I had a headwind for the first half of the ride, and holy cow, is it ever hard to pedal into the wind! I really wanted to turn around and forget the whole thing, but after all the work I put into the tires and the helmet, I wanted to get in my 16 miles.
It was really scary riding on the roads. When I run, I run against traffic, so I don't feel nervous at all about being on the roads. But on a bike, you're supposed to ride with the flow of traffic, and every time a car came up behind me, I was pretty much bracing myself for impact. We don't have bike paths, so I was just on the narrow shoulder of the road.
Once I was at the State Park, I was on a paved path, which is closed to traffic. Once I curved back around at the halfway point, my speed picked up quite a bit because I had a tailwind. I was surprised just how much of a difference there was when the wind was at my back--it felt SO much easier! My Garmin did splits in 5-mile increments (when I run, the splits are 1-mile), and the first two splits took about 30 minutes each (10 mph).
The third split seemed to fly by, and I finished that one in 21:32--more than 8 minutes faster than each of the previous 5-mile splits. Over all, I ended up doing 16.19 miles in 1:26:31, with is an average speed of 11.2 mph. I have no idea whether that's good or not, because I don't know anything about cycling! I earned 9 Activity PointsPlus for it, though, so I am happy ;)
Speaking of which, the funniest thing happened when I got home. I had taken some selfies while I was at the State Park, so I'd have some sort of pictures to post. When I looked at them when I got home, I thought my helmet looked kind of strange. I looked up some photos online to make sure I'd adjusted it correctly, and I realized what the problem was... I was wearing it backwards the entire time!
I immediately thought of all the people that had seen me out riding today, and was so embarrassed. Might as well post the pic here, so we can all get a good laugh at my expense! ;)
I showed the photo to the kids, and asked them if there was anything wrong with the picture. Without missing a beat, they both said that I was wearing my helmet backwards. Bahaha! Even my kids know better. When I was in Pennsylvania for the RW Half, there was a book in my welcome bag about cycling for beginners. I guess I should probably read that :)
I especially should have looked at this page about the helmets. It would have saved me a lot of trouble this morning if I had!
Anyway, I'm really glad that I went for a ride! Despite all the trouble getting ready to go, now I know better for next time. I'd like to start using my bike more, so I'm going to aim for once a week until it's too cold outside. I'm still super nervous about traffic, but hopefully as I get used to it, I'll feel more comfortable. And maybe the cross-training will do me some good :)