I’d like to think I’m becoming a slightly better cyclist this year.
I’ve never been a great cyclist – it’s probably my worst of the three triathlon disciplines. I’m a relatively good swimmer, and a slow but steady runner – but I’ve traditionally been very shaky and nervous on the bike.
Several years ago, I took it upon myself to train for my first triathlon. It was the women’s only sprint distance Title 9 triathlon. I didn’t have a road bike, but rather a heavy mountain bike I borrowed from a friend, complete with a warped back tire that hit the brake pad every time it rotated around. As I trained for this first triathlon, I was terrified of riding the bike on the street. What about potholes? Rocks and gravel? CARS?!?!
This led to me deciding the best place to train was a Walmart parking lot.
You heard me right. Next to my old apartment complex was a Walmart, and in the mornings before they opened their huge parking lot would be basically empty. So I’d ride my bike over there at 6 or 7am and just ride around in circles for an hour. Needless to say, when I got to the Title 9 sprint I didn’t handle hills that well! But I managed to get through the bike portion (on roads!) and was proud of myself.
After that triathlon, I finally ventured out on the roads much more as I trained for later events. This year, I live in a new suburb with a new road bike, and roads that are a bit more conducive to riding. I’ve really enjoyed getting out on the road and exploring my new neighborhood. I have a great time riding with my fiancé, who definitely pushes me to ride faster and stronger since he’s so much quicker than me! Today we rode 14 miles outside after work, enjoying the unseasonably warm day we had here in Massachusetts.
And, we got trainers! One of my family’s Christmas gifts to me was some money to help purchase a bike trainer, something they knew both of us definitely wanted. These have been great, since they let us ride when the weather isn’t conducive. Using it has increased my comfort on the bike, and makes riding outside feel so much easier! On the trainer, you can never coast because you just stop. It’s a great workout, and makes me appreciate riding outside so much more.
Anyway, the point of all this rambling – if you’re nervous about doing something new or you realize you have limitations in a certain activity, don’t let it stop you from getting out there and doing it! Maybe you’re afraid to sign up for a road race because you’ve never felt like a “runner.” Or maybe you’re intimidated to try that new exercise class because everyone else looks like they’ve been taking it for years. Take first steps to increase your comfort with trying these activities. Maybe start by going out for a short run in your neighborhood and see how it feels, or look for a local race that caters to newbies. You can ask that fitness instructor if there’s a time the class is offered when there are fewer people and you can get more individualized instruction.
Even if you have to ride around Walmart for months and months until you’re comfortable tackling the streets, you’ll get to a point where you gain self-confidence and decide to venture out to the roads. And I can’t wait to hear about it!