The name of this blog, The Accidental Cyclist, came about because I "accidentally" became a cyclist. Not because I crash alot. I have only crashed once, and that was because I couldnt unclip fast enough. It was my first ride with clipless pedals.
As my first post pointed out, I was invited to meet my buddy for lunch during a charity ride, and that's when it all started. I figured this could be a nice hobby, casual rides, no major work, I could do this. In fact, I knew alot of the names of bikes I saw that day, so I felt like I was back in familiar territory. I used to ride. I can do this again because I've gained more knowledge.
When I look back...I am humbled because I didnt know squat. This wasnt going to be as easy as I thought.
Now, when I am interested in something like a hobby, say woodworking, I go full bore. Sometimes I continue until burn out, which isnt good. I have an unfinished project sitting on my workbench. This also happened in my hobby of cycling at one point.
Cycling may not be a hobby to all, and to some, it's a life. I get that, and I wish I had more time to devote to riding and training, but working the afternoon shift, and not always having Saturdays and Sundays off makes it challenging to get on a schedule, so, I need to do what I can with what I have. So, lets take a look at how this thing got launched.
The Start, and The Beast
As previously stated, I rode in a challenge in conjunction with the Tour(ill call it the Tour to save time typing). It was just five miles a day for 20 days, with a few rest days and weekends here and there, so it equaled about 26 days total. Anyway, the bike I was riding was a mountain bike. Knobby tires and all. The grips were foam rubber, and split, which made for blistering rides. I swapped the knobbies for some smoother road tires, and those really seemed to help
I got some gloves, a pair of bike shorts and a helmet and was ready to go. I didnt spend a lot of money, and was ok on these short rides. Feeling like somewhat of a pro, I started looking for longer and longer rides. I had the shorts, gloves and such, I was ready to take on anything! I felt like I could ride for hours and hours.
Then I rode for more than 30 minutes. Twenty miles.
I was tender. My legs were wobbly, and I really didnt know what was going on. I knew I was tired, but I had never felt like this before. Oh yeah, I had stopped smoking after 30 years, a year prior to this. My lungs were not ready to handle this much activity. So, I loaded up the "Beast" and drove my tired butt home.
I put alot of miles on that bike,both on and off the trainer, and I did my first charity ride, the Pumkin Pedal for Special Olympics with the Beast. It was a good ride. Cold, but good.
Realizing how much pain I was in during the winter training indoors, I started looking for ways to help improve both my mileage and my comfort. This Trek was not going to be nice to me for 50 plus miles, if I were to ride in the MS ride come June. Looking at newer road bikes, I just had a hard time plunking down $1000 plus dollars for a bicycle. A good one. Sure there were cheaper brands, but I wanted a bike that was serious about road riding. More serious than me. A bike that when you looked at it, it would say "Hop on, lets go for a 100 mile ride today".
This is where obsessing over a hobby comes into play.
I started resaerching brands and most of all prices. I had narrowed the search down to 3 bikes. Two from the same manufacterer, and one from Giant. After weeks of surfing, money being saved, I finally found a bike that was in my price range. It was 2012 Giant Defy 5 Triple model, but the '13's had just come out, so the bike shops were wanting to move them out. I got an awesome deal. Hint: If you are in the market for a new bike, look for one that has a triple crank, or 3 chainrings up front. It makes hill climbing so much easier!
Oh yeah, fitting a bike, and the Sexy Beast
I never knew bikes came in different frame sizes, other than the 10 speed and BMX sizes. I read up on how to properly fit a bike to your build. I am 5 feet, 8 inches tall, which throws me into the medium catagory, or about 54cm. I also have a 31" inseam, so I have short legs, which makes things a bit complicated when adjusting.
Anyway, I test rode the Giant in January. Cold. Snowy. I loved it! Some people name their bikes, and if you follow any of the bicycling magazines and posts on facebook, sometimes they have a posting asking readers if they name their bikes and why.
I have given the Giant a new name: "The Sexy Beast". How did I come up with that? We have a black cat named Salem. He thinks he is a panther. He also thinks he is a sexy beast. My son calls him Sexy Beast. It was fitting: the Giant is black, Salem is black. And it's a great looking bike.
Anyway, I took it home, and couldnt wait to ride it! I hooked it up to the trainer, rode a few miles on it, but then I got burned out. Riding to nowhere really can be borning. The longest I had ridden on the trainer was 30 miles. Thats 2 hours at fifteen miles per hour. It was a training ride. It's what pushed me over the edge of boredom.
Come spring, I was eager to get out and ride. I had my mapping software going, plotting, planning. You know the drill. Everything BUT riding the bike. If I had been so excited to ride in the winter, why am I not excited now, I thought. I continued to plan, and plan some more. Until I decided to go for a 35 mile ride.
The one great thing the Chicago area is blessed with is nice long trails to ride on.
If anyone is from this area, I rode from St Charles to Sycamore and back. For those out of state, thats from one county to another. Thirty-five miles.
I fought a headwind out, and a headwind back, so I was tired, but I felt really good. Doing that distance on the new bike was like going from a Toyota Corolla to a Cadillac sedan. It was that nice.
Needless to say, that ride reinspired me to move forward to the next step of my training for the Tour de Farms ride coming up in June: 40 plus miles. That seemed like a daunting task, only ridden 36 miles actual. But I knew that if I were to go for the double metric, which is 126 miles, on Saturday and then 50 on Sunday, I would need to get going.
Forty-six miles and a saddle sore later, I was met in the parking lot by my bride. She had some errands to run, and drove by where I had parked to head out on my training ride on the bile trails along the Fox River. It was an awesome surprise after riding alone for 4 hours.
My training dwindled after that day, a few five to ten milers here and there, up until the MS ride. I was quite nervous about that rainy Saturday in June. you can read about it in my other blog:
I've signed up for the 2014 Tour de Farms ride. I now know what to expect the day of the ride, and I also know what's expected from me as far as training goes. I hope to have a solid program in place come spring of '14 so that I can crank out at least 100 miles in one day.
Until next time,
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