Wednesday, June 30, 2010

how to fall in love with your bicycle

My second week of Official Century Training was an important one. But before I tell you about that, I want to share something else with you.

I love signing up for races and events. Races and events are, hands down, my biggest expense. But I don't compete because I love the thrill of competition (it's actually kind of stressful) or because I think I'm going to win (I'm not quite that delusional). I compete so that I have a reason to train. To put it another way: It's not the destination, but the journey, that matters.

If I train for my next marathon (Houston!), put in the hours, log quality miles, push myself to be faster, stronger, more disciplined, complete speedwork and hill training, and have a spiritual ephipany on mile 19 of a 20 mile run, then I will be satisifed. The actual marathon? That's just one morning, one really long run. The four months leading up to that morning are where the magic happens. I've long known this about running, but I've only just realized that the same truths can be applied to cycling.

This should not have come as a suprise, but it did. You see, I ride my bike all the time. I commute back and forth to work twice a day (yes, it's only a mile each way, but still) and I ride a bit farther when I go to the yoga studio to get my stretch on. I thought, having a marathon, daily biking, and a few Pineywood Purgatories behind me, that century training would be an easy way to spend the summer. So when, on my last few long rides, I spent the majority of my time struggling to keep up with the group, feeling slow and out of shape, I convinced myself that I was just not meant to be a cyclist.

This past week, I turned it all around. I'm not saying I'm ready to ride 100 miles tomorrow, but I will say that by August 28th I know I'll be ready to take on the Hotter'N'Hell.

What changed? Well, I started riding more than once a week. It turns out, the more you ride, the stronger you become. Who would have thought?! For the past two Tuesdays, Nathan and I woke up early, got on our bikes by 6:00 AM (which is when the sun rises), and headed out for a fast ten mile ride and a twelve mile ride, respectively. Last Wednesday, I tried out my first spin class and even though it totally kicked my ass, I'm hooked. After a few days of rest and yoga, we tackled a 35 mile ride though the East Texas country side - the farthest distance I've ridden since last October. It was awesome. We took it easy, enjoyed the scenery, and had a snack break half way through. It was just Nathan and I, so there was no pressure to keep up with a group, we could turn down any road we wanted (and did), and I was able to quietly enjoy the feeling of my legs and heart working hard. And sometime during that quiet morning, riding up and down the hills of county road 343 with my best friend in front of me and wide stretches of land to my side, I realized that I wasn't working towards something bigger than myself. I was already in it. And once I accepted that, the ride unfolded before me. My bicycle and I were in love once more.

This week we're planning to conquer a 45 mile bike ride. I'm looking forward to it.