Last summer, when I told friends that I’m training for the Venus de Miles Century, some looked at me as if I was crazy and others asked me technical questions about the training. I’m way more comfortable with the crazy looks.
And while I love road biking, I’m never going to be a superstar. I’m not even going to try. For me, the joy is all in the ride, and spinning of the wheels.
Four Reasons Why I’ll Never Be a Super Cyclist
1. I’m a Dork.
Yeah, I’ve got a great bike and some good-looking jerseys. I wear my helmet and I wear proper shorts, gloves and shoes. So, if I may say so myself, I look pretty good. EXCEPT for one thing: I don’t do clipless pedals. I used to. I hated them.
I had LOOK pedals that only allowed me to clip in on one side. They stunk. They stressed me out. I spent most of my ride either trying to get out of them or get into them. With so much attention focused on my feet, I no longer enjoyed cycling. So when I got a new bike, I didn’t transfer my pedals or even get new ones. I left the clunky flat pedals with toe clips in place.
I look like a dork and I know it. But I don’t care. And without those stupid pedals, I feel released and free to enjoy the motion and speed of biking, without any stress.
2. I’m Scared.
It’s not like I ride around trembling in fear. But I do have a healthy respect for cars, motorcycles, patches of gravel, sharp curves and steep descents. Especially steep descents.
While I love to go uphill, downhill freaks me out. Mostly because of the aforementioned cars, motorcycles, patches of gravel and sharp curves. A popular ride in my neighborhood has all of these obstacles. When I ride it, I’m like a moderately fast hare on the incline and a lazy, ancient tortoise on the decline. That’s just how I ride.
3. I Can’t Change a Tire.
Well, I probably could, but I don’t. One time a friend asked me why I didn’t carry a pump, extra tube or patch kit. I felt ashamed and rather stupid. For years, I’d been riding with no emergency gear. I’d been lucky and never had a flat tire. I now carry all of these things now (except the pump, I go for CO2 cartridges, instead) and I’m still lucky. Never had a flat (touch wood).
But even if I did, I’d probably call one of the fantastic men in my life: my husband, my dad or my son and ask for a ride. And then I’d ask one of them to please change my tire.
I know this makes me sound helpless, a veritable distressed damsel in spandex. But I don’t care.
I carry around a lot of information in my head, including everyone’s schedules, eating preferences and social security numbers. They don’t know how to produced a meal from whatever is left in the fridge and I don’t know how to change a tire.
It’s a fair trade, to my mind.
4. I’m Easily Distracted.
Or maybe I lack discipline. But whatever it is I can’t stick with a training regimen. Partially, it’s because I look at cycling as a social event. I love to ride with friends and sometimes, its hard to impose interval training on your buddies, or demand that they spin at a certain RPM. Sometimes, it’s better just to ride.
Even when I’m by myself, I find that keeping up the training is hard. I’ll start a ride with huge enthusiasm, say riding 30 second sprints every five minutes. I do it. I love it. And then, something catches my imagination. I start thinking about friends I need to call or a post I’m going to write or a trip I long to take.
It almost seems like endorphins fuel these random thoughts. The more intensely I exercise, the more thoughts I have. I like these thoughts. But because of them, I forget about my intervals.
Still, when this happens, I often finish my ride strong, simultaneously refreshed and spent. My body and brain have worked out.
I Have Fun
I don’t need the best pedals, or the fastest speed. I don’t need to follow a specific training plan to the letter, nor do I need to be self-sufficient and change every flat.
I enjoy cycling, plain and simple. I enjoy spinning my wheels and feeling the air rush past my face.
I don’t want to be a super cyclist. I just want to ride.
2014 Venus de Miles
Venus de Miles supports Greenhouse Scholars, a whole-person scholarship and mentorship program for high-performing, under-resourced college students. It’s a ride for a great cause!
If I can do it, you can, too.
I originally wrote this post for last fall.
Then, historic and unprecedented flooding in Colorado cancelled the 2013 Venus de Miles Century. So, I scheduled this post for summer 2014. I’d just been out riding with my friends Angie and Marge, and used some photos from that day.
Just a few days later, Marge suffered a traumatic mountain biking accident and was gravely injured.
Despite months of rehab, she may never bike again. It’s been a rough nine months for Marge and her family. She continues to be in our prayers.
- A Fast Life is a Good Life, May 20, 2013.
- Here’s To Marge: Seventy-one Miles and Seventy-One Years Strong, May 15, 2012.
- From Couch to Century, June 22, 2013.
- The Busy Mom’s Guide to Century Training, July 29, 2o13.