I got my first road bike in May 2013. It is pretty, goes fast, and costs a lot of money (perhaps not as much now, due to depreciation). My husband was pretty happy about my fledgling interest in cycling; after all, he is crazy-obsessed-bordering-on-insanity “into” cycling of ALL kinds. With me entering the world of road biking, he now has another buddy! Well, as friends and other well-meaning types do to their loved ones, my husband took me to Red Rock Canyon for my first real road ride. It was hard. The scenic loop is a 13 mile, one-way paved road that winds through the stunning peaks and canyons of Red Rock Canyon Conservation Area and offers glorious views everywhere one looks. Unfortunately, that day, I was huffing and puffing my way uphill for the first 4.5 miles (elevation gain of about 1000 feet in those 4.5 miles), trying to get acclimated to my new bike (aka, “instrument of torture”) and wondering what drug I ingested that made me think (uphill) road biking was a good idea.
And then I started going downhill at mile 5. REALLY fast. I wasn’t trying to pedal. I was just trying not to crash and die. I learned that my shiny new road bike (Specialized Amira) was indeed a race bike and it wants to go fast. Apparently, riding one’s brakes is not the greatest thing to do in terms of preserving bike longevity. Did I care? No.
Perhaps the most irritating thing about that first road ride was hearing my husband’s ever-chipper voice giving me encouragement all the way around the loop WITHOUT BREATHING HARD.
Since that inauspicious start, I have ridden that bike 2-3 times most weeks, with the exception of a month here and there where I was out of town for work or busy with in-town opera gigs. I’ve successfully wheezed and whined through a few long rides with my “self-appointed trainer” (i.e., husband) and completed 3 century rides (100 miles / 160 km) without passing out and vomiting. I’ve had biking friends tell me how “fast I’m getting” or how “hardcore” I am, but honestly, I just view biking as another way to workout. I don’t have any aspirations to race and I don’t have any desire to do extremely long “fun” rides (like 300 or 500 mile rides).
Last week, I realized my birthday is coming up in a few months and thought that would be the perfect opportunity to do something different. “Self,” I queried, “perhaps it’s time we did something BIG.” My intent was to train for a physical challenge that would really push me. That activity should be one that I already know how to do or one that would be relatively easy/accessible to begin; I thought about running a marathon, but I know that I don’t want to pursue that at this point in my life (or ever?). Doing a huge hike didn’t seem like a big enough challenge because I have already done a lot of those (the most recent being Mt. Whitney at the end of September). Attempting a project like the John Muir Trail, Pacific Coast Trail, or bagging several Sierra Nevada peaks in succession would be amazing, but that would require a lot of time that I don’t want to spend right now. Permits are required for all of those endeavours and I want to keep logistics to a minimum. That left biking. Darn. So I thought about what I’ve already done and what seemed like the next logical step. I don’t HATE biking, I just like other things more. However, doing something huge on the bike would truly be a challenge for me precisely because it isn’t my preferred activity, it is a relatively newer sport for me, and because I find biking hard most days anyway! I decided to shoot for a double century (200 miles / 322 km) because that is the next step up from a century. And here I am, typing up this first blog entry on this brand-new blog in order to document the bike training over the next few months for my records and YOUR amusement (yes, you). Stay tuned for more fine details.