Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Polar Opposites

Unlike swimming, I have no natural ability on the bike. Everything that I do on the bike is the result of hard work and stupidity.

I don't know where I am on the learning curve, but I still refer to my chainring as "y'know the big circle in the front" and I could never intelligently discuss the benefits of carbon over steel, unless maybe you're a clydesdale. BUT, I can tell you what the BEST girl-seat around is and where to put those much needed femine products when you have a long ride (cough...saltstick...cough).

I'm not fast, but I'm not slow either. This year I finally made the move into the upper 30% of my age group after floundering around in the bottom 20% for awhile.

In the begining of my tri "career", I made progress quickly. I learned that there is a big difference between riding your bike out to the lake and home and training.

Oy!

My first years, I spent "reading" about training more than actually doing it, but I didn't understand the language. ILTs? high cadence? grinding? I didn't know WHY those things were important. I mean, really, don't I just get on the bike and go as hard as I can?

After two years of poor showings on the bike, I came to the painful realization that I couldn't become a better cyclist by osmosis.

It was hard. Cycling is still hard. I sweat. My legs burn. Sometimes I go really far and want to take a cab home. Sometimes I spent a stupid amount of time on the trainer. I've fallen over sideways. I've crashed. I've dropped my chain. I've dropped my water bottle...and watched it go bouncing....bouncing....bouncing....down the side of a mountain. I've gotten saddlesores (once). I've gotten chafed. I've peed myself. I've miscalculated nutrition. I've dressed inappropriately. I've put my helmet on backward, and I've jammed my aero-waterbottle up my nostril so hard I thought it would come out my eyes.

Sometimes I think....I just can't pedal anymore.

Then, something else happens.....and I just keep going.

But....

in the pool, I stare at the stripe along the bottom of the pool...while running I see pretty much the same 50 square miles.

But....
On the bike, I see the most beautiful landscapes that I could never run to. I can ride through counties, over mountains, around lakes. I can stop at coffee shops that give out free snacks to cyclists.

And I meet other cyclists.

But....
I couldn't do that if I didn't face my bike-demons: those voices that want to tell me "the hill is too big" or "that's too far" or "your legs are too tired." or "maybe you should just swim today."

Fortunately for me, I've got my girlfriends "Grit" and "Determination" on my side. It might not be pretty, but I'm not a quitter. Work ethic. I got a wholelotta that. Again unlike the swim, I don't miss a bike workout. Every time I get in the saddle, I am reminded of how much work I have to do to get where I want to be.

But I don't mind. I like it. When I look back over the past few years, I have a sense of accomplishment. Sure the accomplishment is only about 1mph per year over the course of the race, but each year new people join the sport. Each year, I begin passing others. Each year, I can climb better and manage my heart rate, cadence, and power better than previous years.

The gains may be small, but they are all mine.

Not a darn person can take that away from me.

13 comments:

Tyger Lily said...

Great to see you back!

Happy New Year!

Sonia said...

I am so happy to see you back online!!!! Happy New Year!

Kevin said...

Good to see you back in blogland. Hope all is well with you

Jason said...

If the gains are all yours, then they are not small.

I was having a conversation about training for triathlon the other day with a mate, and we both were of the opinion that you can be a natural in the water, or at least get away with certain things. You can also "get good" at running through many different ways, often without lots of kilometres. But with cycling, you really do have to put in the work. I remember hearing a quote by someone who I can't remember now, that "cycling is a blue collar sport, you have to put in the miles."

KrissyGo! said...

Thanks for posting the re-direct on your old site...

I look forward to keeping tabs this year!

Here's to you!

Warrior said...

Hey there! Great to hear you and see you again, so whats up for 2009!

Kathy said...

I am the same as you. The bike is the hardest discipline for me too, but it is THE most rewarding when you accomplish something (like a big hill or a fast TT). We just have to keep slogging! Like you said, it gets better by sheer hard work, and that is what this whole sport is all about. Our own accomplishments and goals.

Take care and best wishes for 2009.

Cindy said...

Thanks for the link from your old blog. I agree about riding, I love that I can go far and love going fast downhill. While it's a relief to be on the downhill when running, you can't just sail along.
Happy New year!

Wes said...

What up, Chuk? LOL... Happy New Year. Glad to hear from you :-)

Wes said...

I know, I know... It looks like an H and I'm a dumb arse :-)

Bill said...

And the perfect pot in another blog appeared today too: http://community.active.com/blogs/GaleBernhardt/2008/12/31/consistency-trumps-all

Don't ever let anyone take any of your success away from you.

Keep those wheels spinning. :)

Tam said...

Well said!!! Happy New Year - and biking!

R. Jeffrey Davis said...

You have so many friends! Good post and Happy New Year. May your rides get faster and easier.