Thursday, May 21, 2015

My other love


This morning, on my bike ride, I was thinking about writing this blog post and how much I love riding my bike. Riding my bike makes me feel like a kid again. Do you remember your first bike? This is me, on my 7th birthday, and that's my birthday crown on my head. Our driveway was a gravel hill, and you really couldn't get moving fast, unless you started at the top of the driveway and headed down the hill. Which I did, a lot, until the day that my black lab, happy to see me, ran in front of me, and I hit him. Together, we tumbled down the driveway, head over heels, and landed in a heap. There were no helmets back then. How we didn't get hurt, besides a few scrapes, is beyond me. We weren't allowed to ride on the busy rural road that passed my house. There was a grass path between my house and my cousins', and I'd ride my bike on it to get there. We could take the path past my cousins' houses, and onto another dirt path to my grandma's farm. The farmhouse was set was back from the road, and her driveway, while also gravel, was long, and you could get moving pretty fast. We played at the farm all day long, and it's no wonder we had no issues with our weight. We were really active kids. I absolutely loved riding my bike.

So this morning, as happens to me on so many other bike rides, I pedalled along the forest preserve path and was taken back to those days as a child. I find myself getting so lost in my ride, so "zen", that I lose my focus, and have some close calls with cars, potholes, or forget to unclip when I stop. This morning though, it started to rain as I rode, and so I was a little more attentive to my surroundings. I had to keep stopping to wipe my glasses. I could have used little windshield wipers. I sure didn't want to wipe out! Broken arm? Who's got time for that?

Flat tire? Who's got time for that, is what I should have asked myself. As soon as the rain stopped, I headed into my favorite part of the forest preserve. My back tire started acting funny. At first I thought it was in my head. But no. I finally stopped, and looked down at the back tire. It looked ok, but I squeezed it, and yes, it was flat. Crap! I called my husband, and he offered to send my son to pick me up. Luckily, there was still a little air in the tire, and I rode it slowly to a nearby strip mall to wait for my son.

A little unhappy.
I got home, took my bike to the bike shop, and got the tire fixed. The technician told me that it went flat because it was underinflated. Who knew?

Apparently there's a lot I don't know about riding a bike. Riding a road bike, while invoking those feelings of childhood pleasure, is a little more involved than just hopping on and going for a ride on a banana bike. In the spirit of the Friday Five linkup, hosted by the DC trifecta, here's my top 5 tips for road biking. I'm no expert, but this is what I've learned over the past 3 years since I bought my road bike. I'm sure some of you more serious cyclists and triathletes have other top 5 tips, but remember, I'm a runner who's biking to crosstrain. It's all about fitness and fun for me!

EatPrayRunDC, Mar on the Run, You Signed Up For What?

So here we go:


1. You're going to need a lot of accessories. Runners think running is expensive? Try cycling. I have a basic entry level road bike, a Trek Lexa (which I love), which was pretty pricey, although nothing compared to what you could spend. I even got it on sale, and my husband still didn't talk to me for a couple of days after buying it. Sigh. In addition to the bike, I have had to purchase padded bike shorts for comfort. My seat is really hard, and it takes a little while to get used to that. I also have gloves, a helmet, sunglasses (with interchangeable lenses for different light conditions), 2 bottle holders and drink bottles, and an air pump and spare innertube. These last 2 items really give me a false sense of security, because I don't know how to change a tire. Which brings me to the next item:

"Oh look! Is it a stockbroker? Is it a quality surveyor? Is it a church warden? No! It's Bicycle Repairman!"-Monty Python's flying circus. I thought about this sketch today! Where was he when I needed him?  I may be dating myself here. This is an oldie...
2. You need to learn some basic bicycle maintenance. I'm no bicycle repairman. As you know, I'm a do as I say, not as I do kind of gal, and I have yet to learn to change a tire. My local bike shop as well as REI offer regular maintenance classes. After today, I resolve to attend one. My blogging friend Amanda "Too Tall Fritz" also has a link to an instructional tutorial here. A guy at the bike shop today told me that if I could do it myself, it would only take 10 minutes and I'd be rolling again.


3. Learning to clip your shoes into your pedals is not for the timid. But it is so worth it. You can pedal so much more smoothly and go so much faster. When I bought my bike, it came with toe cages, and I used to wear my old running shoes. Last summer I finally got up the courage to take the plunge and ride with shoe clips. I've had a few near falls--a few times when I had to stop short for a car and couldn't get unclipped fast enough. I'm that cyclist who unclips about a 1/4 mile before a stoplight. I like to be prepared. My advice, if you're thinking of going with shoe clips is to try them out while standing still before going on the road. I made the bike shop let me try them out in the store before I'd take my bike home. The technicians just rolled their eyes at me. Whatever.

source

4. Ahem. Don't let those diehard cyclists intimidate you. I may be biased here, but it seems to me that a lot (not all) of cyclists are a bit arrogant. This came as a shock to me, since runners are not generally like this. But I've had plenty of incidents where I said hi to a passing cyclist, and they just ignored me. Last summer when I ran Zooma on the Chicago Lakefront path, there were cyclists who rode by at high speed, and I believe they rode a little too close to the runners on purpose. It was, to put it mildly, a little frightening. You know the ones, riding the fancy $7000 Italian bikes that weigh like 2 ounces? Those guys. My favorite thing to do on my bike path is pass them up on my low end Trek Lexa. Getting chicked? You think runners hate it? Do it to a cyclist. So satisfying....


5. So, on that note, be courteous. Don't be "that cyclist". Follow the rules of the road. Ride with the traffic, not against it. Use hand signals to turn. Don't cut in front of cars. Last spring, I was driving my son home from school, and this cyclist kept passing me at stoplights and stop signs. I'd get ahead of him, and there he was again. He was riding like a maniac. Imagine my surprise when I pulled up next to him and got a good look at him. It was the boys' former orthodontist. Wow! What a jerk! All that money I paid for braces, and this is what he does with it? Terrorize motorists? He's so nice in the office. You just never know who you might see. And if you want to be seen (what a segue, right?), wear high visibility clothing. Actually, I always wear a race shirt when I ride my bike, too, because I want those die hards to know that I'm not a cyclist. I'm a runner. And proud of it.

Most importantly, have fun on your bike. Riding a bike is a great form of cross training for runners. Lots of times, a runner can ride a bike when they're injured, because cycling is a non-weight bearing activity. While I was healing from a broken foot, twice, I was able to maintain my cardiovascular fitness/endurance by riding my bike. The endorphins help too.


PS: The bike technician had a joke for me: What do you call a cyclist without a bike? A runner. What a knee slapper...

Do you bike? Did I forget anything? Any other tips you might add?

I'm also linking up with Jill Conyers for Fitness Friday! All kinds of tips over there!

70 comments :

  1. Isn't it great having photos of when we were little? Very cute indeed.
    I still need to get bitten by the cycling bug - I suspect just getting out there might help! I have no excuses at all.
    I never actually thought about rain on glasses when cycling before. It must be very annoying. The windscreen wiper idea is excellent.
    Have a great weekend!

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    1. My mom was really frugal, and didn't take a ton of pictures back then...she thought it was too expensive to get the film developed! Anyways, it's fun to look back.

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  2. I only started riding a few years ago and am surprised at how much I love it! I rely on my husband for all the maintenance and technical stuff...

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    1. My husband helps me out, but he wants me to learn to do it myself. Ugh.

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  3. I don't bike. We did over vacation and I didn't mind it when we were on a paved path, but I don't like to be on the road. My husband, on the other hand, is already asking for a second bike. And I thought running was expensive...

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    1. I'm getting over that fear of the road, but I am much more comfortable on the path! Crazy drivers out there...

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  4. I love biking! I love going fast and powering up hills. I am a fair weather biker for sure but this summer I am going back to tri racing and looking forward to lots of biking. Too bad we don't live closer to each other. I could never keep up with you on a run but maybe on a bike I could! Enjoy

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    1. I wish we did live closer! I'd love to bike or run with you!

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  5. This is a great post. I'm a terrible biker but I like to pretend I'm not. I've been wanting to get a Trek bike for a while, but they definitely are pricey. I'll have to keep saving for one of those babies. Clip on shoes scare me. I won't even use them on my spin bike for the fear of getting stuck. I'm terrible.

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    1. Trek had 6 months free financing when I bought mine, so it was a win-win situation!

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  6. I'm a wannabe cyclist! I do not, however, look forward to wearing the padded shorts...UGH! Seriously? Is there not a little more fashion-savvy option???? :-) And, the toe clips totally freak me out! I'm the one who will probably be veering into oncoming traffic as I attempt to maintain my balance with one foot "in" and the other one "out." Big time comfort zone violation!!! (which, of course, is the reason I'm intrigued...). And I will need several tutorials on changing a tire..... #excusesaplenty

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    1. It took me a while to get up the courage to use to toe clips! I won't lie, they still scare me. And the padded shorts make me feel like I'm wearing a maxi pad....I don't love them either!

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  7. Great tips Wendy! I really enjoy biking but I need to learn more about how to take care of a bike....thankfully my boyfriend is pretty good at it. I need to get some of those shorts....I went on a bike ride Saturday with my running shorts....not a good move lol!

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    1. I don't love the running shorts (feels like a big 'ole maxi pad) but they do help pad the bottom!

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  8. Just a suggestion, you may want to consider changing your background. It makes it very difficult to read the black text. Of course I am reading it on my phone so it just may be my device. If that is the case, please ignore! Have a great weekend Wendy!

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    1. I checked my mobile view and yes, it's weird! I'll work on that over the weekend. Thanks for the heads up!

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  9. UM, most dynamite post ever?! YES. It's so hard to explain to non-cyclists how NOT intimidating this sport is, but also give them the small taste of the *fear* that is involved in it. I love cycling so much; it's one of the three things I do in one single race. I feel like a kid when I hit a badass downhill, settle into an aero position, and smile into the wind.

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    1. Now that's an adjective I haven't heard for a while! Thank you! I do love the bike, no doubt!

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  10. Oh, I love this. I honestly haven't ridden a bike outside in years. this makes me want to go buy one and get to ridding. I am with you though, I think if I ever get to the point of shoe clips, I'll have to unclip a while before I actually stop. I like to be prepared too :)

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    1. I love to go fast, and that got me over the fear of the shoe clips!

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  11. I love riding my bike....and don't do it nearly enough...I think because I'm not really comfortable riding on the road, and so I usually drive the bike down to the beach and ride on the boardwalk and it takes too much time.... Reading your post, I'm inspired to sometimes ride early in the morning when the roads are not busy until I get more comfortable.

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    1. I do love my bike and don't do it enough either...because I'm out running!

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  12. haha, I'm not a cyclist (unless you count a spinning bike!) but great tips. I've noticed cyclists can be quite arrogant towards runners, especially when it comes to sharing the road!

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  13. I love to bike on trails, and through my very unbusy neighborhood streets, but I have never ever road bikes...Chicken...but you gave me a great start if I ever work up my nerve.

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    1. Oh, it's really fun. I can't believe how smooth the ride is on my road bike!

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  14. Definitely lots of accessories - sheesh! Jonathan (my husband) just got into cycling last year and I had no idea! I thought I had a lot of gear - ha! Hope you have a great weekend, Wendy!

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  15. I just got my old bike that I had in high school from my parents, it is still in great shape! I can't wait to get out there with my daughter and husband on some trails :)

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  16. I like riding just for fun. It is definitely good cardio, though. I spray my chains with WD-40, test the brakes, inflate the tires, and pray hard she'll make it every time I go out. HA! Luckily, I have a rural road to ride on and if something happens, I can take a shortcut across the creek back to my neighborhood. I have pictures on a bike when I was young too. There weren't many taken back then. My how things have changed!

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    1. Yep, I don't have a lot of pictures from when I was little either!

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  17. I've yet to try clipping in on a real bike, but it makes SUCH a difference at spin class - I love it!!
    My poor bike is in rough shape and needs a good tune up before I can take it on the pathways again.

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    1. I hear that all the time from people who take spin! Who knew?

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  18. I am HORRIBLE on a bike. I don't know if its the coordination part or my bike, but I am a hazard...
    Maybe I will hit up our local bike shop for some guidance.

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    1. Oh gosh! I never thought about being a hazard to others...

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  19. I keep wanting to get into bike riding, but I'm so scared of riding in NYC. I think I'd be freaking out the whole time about getting hit by a car and wouldn't be enjoying it. Maybe if I practice somewhere quieter and get confident on the bike, I can get over my fear.

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    1. In Chicago, the cyclists who ride on the streets are FEARLESS! I could never do it. I agree, ride somewhere quieter.

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  20. Love these tips! It's true, it involves accessories and knowledge - it's so much more involved than running in a lot of ways, but it's also so satisfying!!!

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  21. My boyfriend has spent most of his life as an avid cyclist, so I hear the stories. But me myself I don't even dare changing my pedals to ones with a locker. :( Shame on me. #newbie #FitnessFriday

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    1. It took me a while, but my need for speed won out!

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  22. Nooooo. I do not bike. I don't like riding a bike for fun, and I am TERRIFIED of cycling, especially in a group. OMG, I break into a sweat just thinking about it. I would fall flat on my face. After flipping over my handle bars and taking out several people with me.

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    1. I never thought about this when I wrote this post! I've never been afraid of the bike...I thought it was a natural thing for everyone.

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  23. I don't really bike. I haven't been on a bike since I was a little kid. During a run the other day, hubby tells me that he wants to buy us bikes and start biking. I told him it wasn't a bad idea. The only thing I hate about riding a bike is the glute pain! Is that something one just has to get used to?

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    1. You do get used to the glute pain--actually it gets less as you ride more.

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  24. excellent tips! bikers can be kind of rude but i can see how it would be annoying if runners were taking up the whole road. i'm always cautious and appreciate when bikers let me know they are passing.

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    1. Me too. And I always let people know when I'm passing. They might not be as gracious, tho..

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  25. I loooove this post. Why is riding a bike as an adult so much harder than when you are a kid. I always feel like my balance is so off and man those clipless pedals give me trouble all the time!

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    1. I see kids in my clinic fearlessly playing with their parents' phones--where we would always be afraid of messing it up. The same goes for biking--as a kid you're so fearless! As an adult...so fearful, right?

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  26. I think my first comment was spammed. Trying again :)

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  27. Great tips! Bikers around here tend to be pretty rude, we have some shared pathways and on more than one occasion I have come pretty close to being struck by a cyclist.

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    1. I'm glad to know it isn't just around here! They're pretty aggressive, for sure!

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  28. I'm not a cyclist, but it's something I have thought about doing. I tried riding a bike after almost 15 years and I wore a helmet, elbow, and knee pads. I was really nervous! Lol Great tips!

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    1. It's really fun, once you get over your fear. I had a hybrid bike before I took the plunge and got the road bike, and it really is a different animal!

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  29. What an adorable photo of little you! Its always so much fun to look back at old photos!

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    1. It really is fun! I can't believe this was that long ago, tho.

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  30. Cycling is definitely my passion. Sounds like you had a pinch flat. That was one thing that took a bit of getting used to with a road bike...airing up before every ride. I distinctly remember my first ride without training wheels. I was about 7 years old and my cousin tricked me by telling me he'd run behind me and hold the seat, but he let go and I didn't realize it and then I was off riding on my own! I know what you mean about cyclists being arrogant...not all of them but I run into them for sure. I actually do not admit I'm a triathlete when I show up to group rides as cyclists tend to look down on triathletes (and some of it is deserved...triathletes don't draft and don't have to learn group riding skills...as a result they can act like idiots on the road or in a group setting if they don't take the time to learn handling skills and ettiquette).

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    1. That's what the bike shop guy called it, a pinch flat! I learn something new every time I ride. You must think I'm such a rookie!

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  31. Great tips!!! I have a bike...a Walmart cheapy that keeps me moving when it's working. I've always wanted a nicer bike, but realize I'd never be gutsy enough to be a serious cycler. The thought of clipping my feet into the peddles is terrifying, LOL!!

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    1. I don't want to be a serious cyclist--it's fun riding just to crosstrain and not for any other reason!

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  32. Oh wow -the life with a pro-cycler makes me smile - it's crazy how much gear can go on a little bike (and biker)! I live in an area where we have lots of bikers on the road and people never obey the rules of the road!! Makes me so scared for them!

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    1. It's amazing how riding an expensive bike makes you feel invincible, isn't it?

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  33. lol...great tips! And boy oh boy...cycling is NOT cheap! I've spent way too much money and I'm still not done buying stuff! And I will say I'm a bit surprised by your comment on some cyclist not speaking...I was just thinking the other day, after going on with a group a cyclist for the first time, how amazingly friendly athletes are. My problem not matter if I'm biking or running...is the CARS/drivers. They are just evil!! lol

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    1. Maybe it's just around here...but the die hard cyclists are not friendly! The cars--oh man, that's a whole other post!!!

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  34. My granddad lived less than a half mile from our house when I was little. There was a rarely traveled dirt road between our houses, and I made that trip back and forth many times every day. I'd love to know how many miles I put on my bike! I only had one serious crash in all those years, and of course we had no idea what a helmet was back then. Thanks for helping me relive that great memories!

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    1. It seems that every time I ride my bike, the memories come rushing back!

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  35. I haven't ridden in so long and I'm not really sure I want to start now. Since I plan on moving soon, it makes no sense to buy a bike now. Plus, we only have 'bike weather' here in Canada for like 2 months, so it prob isn't worth it anyway haha

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