Monday, January 9, 2012

Learning to ride a bike

I've been missing you Valkyries and thought I might post a bit of an update.

Following some struggles getting to Tour of Bright where my training fell apart and I didnt recover well from cold after cold and the Hartley, I got completely out of the saddle after finishing Bright and didnt ride at all from Dec 3 2011 to 4 Jan 2012 when I fronted up to a track training course.

I had thought that trying out track would be hard, having never ridden fixed gear, no brakes, but I was completely unprepared for how terrifying it felt not to have control where I am used to it being (ie the brakes). It was probably the hardest thing I have pushed myself to keep doing on a bike in the last 12 months in terms of fear (I kid you not) and gave me a real sense of how beginners feel, all over again. Which is pretty funny considering all I was doing was slow laps practicing stopping, starting, and clipping in and out.

I also tried my first bunch ride a few days later, joining the Sydney Uni club SUVelo for their Saturday ride which I knew in advance had options for 60, 90 and 110k. I assumed of course that it would hurt - given my fitness had disappeared but I was sure I'd push on and do the 90 or 110 - after all, big kims are what I'm famous for right?

However I was pretty unprepared for the surgy nature of the ride, the bunch that set off was about 50+ riders, and with A Grade blasting out of the traffic lights every few minutes while the rest of the bunch was still applying brakes - it meant that the pace was a lot like a hard hilly race than a steady training ride. Needless to say - once we hit a few hills I was struggling off the back, and fortunately the local guys were really friendly and made sure I could struggle back to the city with the 60km group.

The roads they took blew my mind also, if you know Sydney at all - think South Dowling St and the highway out of town complete with tunnels passing the airport. Traffic doing 80 with us holding not a bike lane, but a full lane. Pretty scary stuff.

The crew were really friendly though - which is a big help, they have 6 rides per week so hopefully I can get some form back. It's really challenging how much fitness I've lost, and associated kgs that have piled on in the past five weeks. Shocking how fast that happens :(
It's quite hard to imagine getting back to anything resembling race fitness and a bit heartbraking to have left right as the other Valkyries all seem to have peaked and jumped up grades. I doubt I'd keep up with C Grade at the moment.

What I miss the most though, are all my Valkyrie mates. Its pretty social, riding and training and racing with a great bunch of guys and gals 6 days a week and that's completely disappeared for me. Moving cities is hard enough and it feels a lot like square one again for fitness, friends, everything.

I don't even look like a bike racer anymore - I went into Clarence St Cyclery this morning and the girl behind the counter asked if I'd just started learning to ride to work. :-/

Riding here is really different so its a lot like being a beginner again. The traffic is terrifying, the bunch calls are all completely different, and the bunch behaves differently - there's no sense of easing up out of the lights to wait for everyone to be on - its just go go go. I guess its how rides like the Bakery Bunch in Canberra must be - all or nothing.

And one of the most challenging things is that I dont have any of my tried and true easy fixes. There's no black mtn, mt stromlo or red hill and I cant just jump on at 6am and do a 1.5hr Fed Hwy to clear out the cobwebs....When this blog was first started it was intended to be a resource for new women to read about what its like to be a first timer - turns out it's useful for me now that I'm kinda back at square one again.

Hopefully, though project DBR will get me back on track, I really want to race it again and although I'm not sure 6 months is enough to get to a level where I can do better than last year, I think its worth a shot.

At any rate, I'm so proud of all of your achievements girls, it blows my mind to think how much all of you have improved and I'm really glad to read about it on FB and here on the blog.

1 comment:

  1. Good to hear you're getting back out Rach. 6 months of training to get you fitter than you were for DBR last year is infinitely achievable. Don't forget I only did 4 months of training for Bright and that was off the back of 9 months of basically no training since my accident. You can do it, even from Sydney. Lots more of Siren are keen for it this year so you'll have to come back for it too. :-) In the meantime, keep us updated with your adventures riding bikes in Sydney - it sounds crazy (we are so spoilt here in Canberra!).