I Love/Hate my Cycling Progress

Now that Kris is fully recovered from his surgery, we are finally able to do active things together again, which lead to us taking an 18 mile bike ride yesterday! Wow!

We headed down to a local rail-trail for 9 miles out and back. There wasn’t really anything THAT exciting, so I didn’t take any pictures, but here is a link to the trail map if you are curious about it. The trail was pretty nice – it was mostly paved or covered in crushed stone/gravel with only a few rough-ish spots that were somewhat hard on our non-mountain bikes. We also had great weather – we got there around 10 am and it was overcast and cool, and even by the time it warmed up (to “only” 80) it was still overcast so we at least had relief from the sun (it rained later in the day).The biggest problem was the hills on the way out – the first like 5-6 miles were uphill! According to my GPS, there was over 3,000 feet of climbing! At least this meant that on the way back to the car we were “zooming” over the 3,000 feet of descent. Our only other problem was that the reviews of the trail and the map were a little misleading – we assumed that trailhead parks with restrooms would mean that there would be a place to get water but there was totally nothing but portapotties and parking spaces. We were unable to get any water until we got off the trail to ride into a town and get water at one of their parks! What kind of 15 mile long multi-use trail does not have a single water fountain?! To be fair, there may have been one at the park where we turned around, as we turned around  without entering it.

There were a lot of good things about this ride. First of all, holy cow we rode 18 miles! I never thought I’d be able to ride that “far.” (I know this still isn’t THAT far, but it is for me). Also, I am making a lot of progress with being able to balance on the bike. I still can’t manage to pull out my water bottle in motion, but I can itch my face, adjust my clothes/helmet/whatever, and mess with my GPS watch. I was even able to take both hands off the handlebars for like 1 second! I was also able to test out some of my new equipment and found that it all pretty much worked great. Having the panniers to lug around all of our crap instead of a backpack on such a long ride was quite the relief, and I didn’t even notice they were there. We’ll see how I feel about not even noticing them after Kris makes me bike around town with calculus books in tow for practice, though! In general, I am feeling a lot more confident about my abilities, which I am happy about. I also find that I am genuinely enjoying cycling – I had a really great time yesterday!

There were also a few bad things. These are mostly related to how new I am still am at cycling. I feel like because I am in good shape, I should be picking up on the whole performance/endurance aspect of the sport much more quickly. I am still terrible at going uphills and pathetically slow, however. In fact, MyFitnessPal classifies my pace as “light” or “leisure,” which makes me feel like a loser because it feels like a super workout to me, and I see people on blogs who are going WAY faster than me talking about how slow they are all the time, which makes me feel like even more of a loser. Like, I’m so slow I feel like I must be doing something horrifyingly wrong. Plus, Kris is just SO much faster. I feel bad the whole time we are riding together because he is like coasting along and I am pedaling as hard as I can just to stay like 100 feet behind him. I know it is partially his bike (for example, he has thinner tires), but I know that part of it must be that I am just not very good at cycling. Plus, despite my higher level of physical fitness (he has had two major surgeries rendering him mostly inactive in the last year), the ride hit me WAY harder than him. We both took naps yesterday afternoon after we got home and even after that I still felt so tired that I almost cried when faced with the prospect of having to cook dinner (luckily, Kris is wonderful and cooked dinner for us). Sometimes I feel like I’ll never get faster and I’ll still just be that kid that everyone makes fun of for being terrible at cycling because I’m lagging behind them huffing and puffing and unable to move a single muscle for fear of falling over for the rest of my life 😦 I’m sure this isn’t the case, but it’s a really difficult feeling to shake.

Today looks like it will be a lazy day just cleaning the house, doing laundry, etc. It’s kind of rainy outside but I might do a short run or something. I’d rest after such a long ride yesterday but tomorrow starts half marathon training and therefore a planned somewhat restful day. Mondays are supposed to be strength and stretching, so I’ll probably do a few very light things. Once I get back to school and have gym access, it will probably consist of foam rolling and some stability ball workouts, but until then I will have to be creative.