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.|
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:
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.
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!