Thursday, May 1, 2014

Taking the Lane: But I don't wanna!

Every week, I run over to the Sheclismo blog to see what my fellow bloggers have to say about commuting, about the best seat for our tush, about how to dress the part. They've had such informative posts, and I'm over here making jokes. Don't get me wrong, I’m interested, but I still haven’t been on my bike for much more than a trip to the bank and back this year. So, what’s my deal?

I’m busy. I have obligations. I don’t want to get sweaty 4 times a day. Whatever the excuse, it comes down to one thing: but I don’t wanna! It’s easy to wake up, hop in my car, and motor on in to work. I’ve been training religiously for the half marathon. I’m running 35 miles per week, and I’m not sure what adding 10 bike miles per day to my routine. So will that change after this week’s half marathon? Maybe.

dry heaves

Why do we ride, anyway? Why did we join Sheclismo? What makes us clip into the pedals and speed off into the sunrise, sunset, wind, rain, snow? Maybe we want to get better. Faster. Stronger. Maybe we wanted the camaraderie women on two wheels brings. I joined up 2 years ago, and it damn near saved my life. I was weathering the most devastating breakup I’d ever faced. I compensated with exercise. But it all got achingly lonely. A dear friend let me know she’d been riding with the group, and maybe I should come on a group ride? I worried, thought, fretted, and thought some more about taking the leap. But I was too slow! I didn’t know these girls! What if they left me in their dust? My curiosity finally outweighed my shame and I clipped in, strapped on the helmet, and rode up to a strange group of girls. They were welcoming, they were encouraging, and in 2 hours they taught me more about bikes than I learned in 10 years on my own. I made friends, rode more, lost weight, found myself again. I could recap parts of my first gravel girls ride, my first time out at Pioneers, but I think you get the picture. Through Sheclismo, I met my future bridesmaid and best friend, some insipiration, and some damn fine women. When they asked me to contribute to this blog, I didn’t hesitate.

But the fact remains-my focus has shifted. I’ve always been a mediocre biker at best. Last year, while training for the half iron man, I learned that I’m best not on 2 wheels, but on 2 legs. Biking is my zone out time, where I sort things out in my brain. Commuting is different. More in-town riding, more aggressive, more like a puzzle. Dodge that car, make this light, slide right on in to that bike lock up. My focus last year, my first commuting year, was to get faster. Did I succeed? Not really. I was never any faster without a backpack full of coffee, salad, spare clothes and oatmeal than I was streamlined and aggressive. Something about these legs just can't seem to average much more than 14-15 miles per hour. On foot, I’ve seen my pace change in less than 6 months by about 10%. I get faster, I get leaner, I see results. On the bike, the results are more  mental, and no less important. So I don’t want to get up and put on my gym clothes another time per day? Physical things happened to me when I focused on running. Mental things changed for me when I clipped in to two wheels. And once I can strip the “must get in x miles to train this week” mentality which is self defeating in and of itself, then I will be ready to ride again. To clear my head. To save the environment. To inspire others. And I look forward to the clarity that brings.

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