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, March 21, 2004

3/21/04 Sunday Ride: I'm Baaaaack!

I've been looking forward to cycling all week. Knowing that I may flake out due to laziness, I emailed Heather in advance to volunteer to sweep the 30-mile ride. I figure there was a much greater probability of me showing up if I knew that people were counting on me to be there. I did a lot of preparation for the ride: I pumped my tires, lubricated the chain... I even ate breakfast: toasted bagel with cream cheese. Yum!

Since the weather has been so nice the past couple of weeks, I wore regular cycling pants, an aerobics top and a cycling jacket. It drizzled slightly on my drive down but I was undeterred. I was going to ride, even if it was going to be in (light) rain!

Wouldn't you know, the first day I decide to exercise outside is the day that it's overcast and foggy, which meant that it was chilly. I definitely could have used long cycling pants. Oh well.

I arrived early to test out my bike since this was my first post-operation ride. I did a little circuit in my sneakers in the parking lot just to make sure everything was in order. Then I switched to my cycling shoes. Yep, I was going to do the clipless pedals thing again.

I thought it would be a small group since only about five people were congregated outside Summit at 8:45AM. More and more people arrived until I suddenly noitced that there were 17 of us there listening to Heather give the safety speech. There were lots of new faces and eager cyclists debating whether to do the 51- or the 52-mile ride... or even the 30-mile ride! They were happy to know that they didn't have to decide right away since the first 15 miles were the same for all routes. Heather led the 30-mile ride, and I swept since I would be even slower than usual.

Dita was on a loaner bike from her bike shop. Her old bike got stolen (a pox on the house of bike thieves) and she didn't know how to shift on her new bike. I heard something about "thumb shifters" and a kind soul showed her how to operate the gears just before we head out. She certainly caught on quickly because all it took was a 30-second demo. She's expecting her new bike this week - just in time for Cinderella!

We were planning on making our first regroup at the top of Crystal Springs, but everybody had gathered at the bottom instead. Heather joked that it's because we're all programmed to stop there. By the time I arrived, the others were ready to climb. We made another brief pitstop at the top where I raised my seat slightly (it seems to sink after each ride, weird) before part of the group headed to Woodside.

At this point, a few riders deserve a special mention:

  • Sophie came late to the ride, but still managed to sprint the first few "warm up" miles and catch up to us at the top of Crystal Springs. Wow.
  • Gia led the 51-mile ride on a mountain bike. Despite the extra weight, she was able to power up hills and crank like nobody's business. I know because she left Crystal Springs after me, caught up with me at 92, and then flew *up* the hill and into the distance as soon as the light turned. I think my husband is right: it's not my bike that's slowing me down, it's me!
  • Last but not least, Dita, who's a fabulous group rider. She ALWAYS signals. She is so reliable that I have no trouble cycling up close behind her for long periods of time. This was the first time I felt comfortable doing this: I usually leave 2-3 bike lengths worth of space between me and the person ahead.

We had a minor mechanical en route to Canada: Dita's chain had come off. This was during a descent, so I was mighty impressed that she could cycle downhill with one hand (and no chain), signal with the other and come to a controlled stop. I also stopped to check it out but by the time I went to take a look, she had magically got the chain back on although she wasn't sure how she had done it. For future reference, I showed her the trick that Amy had taught me for reseating chains. We lifted the back wheel and cranked the pedals a few times to make sure the chain stayed before starting out again.

We didn't stop again until we got to the bakery just as the 51- and 52-mile groups were leaving to continue on their routes. For the first time ever, I did not buy a chocolate chip cookie. In fact, I wasn't hungry at all because I had eaten a real breakfast rather than just an energy bar. Lorrie was right! You should eat before rides. [One of the effects of my surgery is that I have to eat regularly.]

It was warm when we were at the bakery because the sun had come out. Anticipating a sweaty ride back, I took off the sleeves of my cycling jacket. Gotta love my cycling jacket - I'm really glad I paid extra $ to get one with detachable sleeves.

Kathy & Linda had a headstart back to Summit, and the rest of us: Heather, Rachel, Kim, Karen, Laura, Dita, Joan, Jan and myself, left after 25 minutes of rest. Well, most people got 25 minutes, I had all of five since I arrived at the bakery so late. Note to self: gotta ride faster! The only time we stopped to regroup was at Edgewood & 92. I asked Heather for some tips on descending and she reminded me of two things:

  • If I wasn't comfortable pedaling during the descent, I should put my feet at 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock position
  • For cornering, I should extend the outside leg. For example, if I'm turning right, I should have my right foot raised and my left foot lowered for counterbalancing. Dita gave another reason: you don't want to catch your inside foot on the ground as you're turning

Armed with that information (I should really review my Basic Bike Clinic Notes again), I had a better experience descending Crystal Springs. Not a great experience, mind you, but better. I forgot there was a stop sign at the bottom but managed to successfuly execute an emergency stop EVEN WITH CLIPLESS PEDALS. Woo hoo!

The rest of the ride was without incident. It was a lot harder than I remembered but it's great to be back. Hope to see you on the road soon!

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