This section of my website used to be dedicated to triathlon training, personal race results and certification reviews, like Turbo Kick. I am expanding it to include more generic health & fitness topics. Also, I talk a lot about "D" -- he's my husband (Dave Liu)!

Sunday, November 16, 2003

Sunday Ride with Margaret

I had originally planned to cycle every available Sunday for six weeks starting in mid-September. You know how many times I went? Zero. I had every excuse for skipping rides: too cold, too scared, too depressed (stolen bike), too incompetent, too slow, too busy. Finally, I deployed my secret weapon: Margaret.

Margaret is a lovely fellow YMCA instructor I met a few months ago. She's a spirited fitness enthusiast whose husband is an avid cyclist. She claims that she used to read my triathlon/training blogs to build up courage to cycle more. Since all I ever write about is falling off my bike I'm surprised that she didn't become discouraged about the whole thing!

I told her about Velo Girls (VG) and what a phenomenal & supportive bunch of gals they are. We both agreed to attend the Basic Bike Clinic and regularly participate in the Sunday Rides. Ideally, we would have done the Basic Bike Clinic BEFORE the Sunday Ride (the same way I would have preferred to do the clinic before my triathlons), but we went ahead anyway.

Today was The Day that we agreed to do our first Sunday Ride together. For her inaugural VG ride, Margaret purchased a fluorescent yellow windbreaker. Not to be outdone, I bought a yellow Cannondale one with detachable sleeves from Sports Basement. It's practical and has a snazzy design. I highly recommend it.

Lorri promised us good weather for the day, and she delivered with flying colors. Unfortunately, she was still injured and did not ride with us (get well soon!) but she gave the safety discussion and showed us some beautiful VG static windshield stickers that Margaret & I were determined to earn. There were about eight of us cycling that day in total, but most people wanted to do the 42 mile ride up Old La Honda.

Bless her soul, Holly volunteered to lead the 30-mile ride, and Priscilla graciously swept for the first part all the way up until we reached Canada Road. I was on a mountain bike with loose toe clips and miraculously made it up all the hills, huffing and puffing all the way. Priscilla was encouraging and kept an eye out for me so I felt safe. Holly gave me some great tips on how to cycle better: (1) Sit back in the saddle and push legs forward (2) Cycle straight (minimize side to side motion) and (3) Do more spinning. The sitting back in the saddle part was excellent for hills. I'd also like to cycle straighter too because Holly explained that I waste energy by engaging in unnecessary lateral motion. I hope that will come with improved balance and practice. I have to work on motivating myself to do more indoor cycling. Maybe I'll reward myself with a heart rate monitor after my tenth class/ride.

I tell myself that the reason I was so slow was that my bike was heavy but that explained only 33% of my sluggish speed. Another 33% was due to the fact that I was unable to shift into my big ring in the front. The remaining 33% is due to the fact that I just have low cycling endurance. Skill and competence aside, since I'm an average runner, I thought I'd be an average cyclist since I use my legs for both activities, right? Wrong. As explained by the concept of "specificity", I need to cycle more to develop my cycling muscles. I think it's time for me to start attending the Peninsula Y indoor cycling classes again. Perfect timing too since I think Eleanor should be back soon to teach the class.

I learned from the mistake I made on my last Sunday Ride and cycled across the Ralston/92 intersection without incident. In fact, I made it all the way to Woodside without any problems. I was quite pleased.

On the way back, we took a detour across the Ralston pedestrian bridge to avoid the cars on Skyline. The tradeoff was that we had to climb some hills but I'd rather deal with that than cars any day. The only downside to that route is that we had to make a slightly harrowing left turn at a poorly designed intersection at the top of the path. Fortunately, our fearless leader Holly carefully explained what we had to do and made sure that we followed her closely.

Cycling in the Peninsula is much better than riding in the city, but I was quite appalled at some of the road conditions. There were what I can only describe as missing chunks of road all over the place. What's that about? Why don't they fix it? While budget constraints are an obvious answer, I also suspect that residents in the area probably don't want the roads patched up in the hopes of having fewer cylists. I tried to dodge cracks and crevices but wasn't always successful. Fortunately, I was able to roll over everything without getting my tires stuck.

I made it all the way back to Summit without falling once. Wahoo! Margaret was a complete stud and discovered that all her fears were unfounded: I'm proud to say that she cycled much faster than I did and looked very confident.

We both had a great time cycling and have already started to talk big game. We're planning on doing a century next year. We're going to log more miles on our bikes (I think she has a hybrid) before buying road bikes. She's found an interesting looking Specialized Dolce Comp that I will investigate at some point. The Dolce Elite is also a (cheaper) possibility. Assuming they have the same frame, it may be wiser to purchase the Elite, crash and bang up the Tiagra components without remorse, and then upgrade to Ultegra later.

Next week: Velo Girl Basic Bike Clinic!

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