Friday, January 17, 2014

Clawing My Way Back to the Middle

I've recently become reacquainted with Hazel, my trusty steed (bike). Hazel and I have been through a lot. We've trained together, we've raced together, we've fallen together, and we've gotten back up together. After Augusta, though, I never wanted to see Hazel again. I was tired of her, and from the way she was handling there at the end, she was pretty darn sick of me, too. So, I put us on a break. I stuck her in the back of the garage, and thought nothing of her for about 4 months, until I had to start thinking about her again when I signed up for a race this coming spring.

I don't love cycling. I have never loved being on a bicycle. I didn't love it when I tooled around my neighborhood on the ugly lime green bike with the horrible 70's banana seat, I didn't love it when I traversed the UF campus and dodged pedestrians during my freshman year on the pretty red 10-speed that my dad got me for graduation, and I really didn't love it when I had to fight traffic my junior and senior years at UF on the cheap green Huffy mountain bike that I had bough at Walmart to replace the pretty red 10-speed that I abandoned on campus two years earlier.

I didn't even learn to ride a bike until I was almost 10 years old. Isn't THAT sad? I was diving, doing the backstroke, and maneuvering flip turns at 5 years old, but I couldn't ride a two-wheeled bike until puberty.  

Sometimes I wonder why I decided to take on triathlon. Knowing full well that I would have to get on a bike and not only ride it proficiently, but that I would have to do it for countless hours and miles, I still dove in and went for triathlon with breathless enthusiasm. It was a love affair that lasted until I was training for a Half Ironman, and after the umpteenth 3 hour bike ride, dodging rednecks in beat-up pick up trucks on the rural roads of North Florida, that I finally realized that me and bikes are not friends.

My husband LOVES riding a bike. Ever since I met him, he has been a bike junkie. He loved mountain biking when we first met, and now he loves long Sunday rides on the open road (though, I think he still prefers his first mountain bike, a blue Raleigh with a Primus sticked emblazoned on the fork. You never forget your first, after all.). Now, 20-something years later, his love for the pastime has not wavered.

I have made it one of my resolutions to learn to love my bike this year. I am determined to develop strength on the bike, and I am determined to develop a fondness for cycling in general. 

So, I have climbed back on to my incredibly uncomfortable saddle, and I have been taking Hazel out for morning and afternoon rides, chilly wind be damned. I am amazed at how much bike fitness I lost in the last four months, and I am struggling to maintain a speed that would keep me in the middle of the pack. But I will not give up on Hazel, and I won't let her give up on me. And I will be back in the middle of the pack come April, when I race at St. Anthony's.

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