Thursday, June 7, 2012

Triathlon training con't: step 4

Just to review steps 1-3 were,1- find a group to train with, because everything is always better in a social group, 2- find a bike (preferably a road bike, but doesn't have to be) and 3- get in the water and swim.  Today I'll be addressing learning to ride a bike!  Disclaimer: I am not a certified tri coach (obviously) so don't take my word as the law, at one point in my life I was a competitive swim coach, but that doesn't mean I know how to train for a triathlon! So moving along...

Step 4:  Learning to ride a road bike.  I guess because I had no idea what I was getting myself into, so NO preconceived notions of the difficulties in riding a road bike (really stupid of me, btw) I just bought a road bike, got the peddles changed, put on my spin shoes (the ones I had been using at Goodlife to do the RPM -aka spin classes) and got on the bike, tried to clip in annnnddd FELL!  Soooo not the romantic start to my biking career that I had envisioned.  Then I decided to back up a few steps, again I'm not sure why I didn't think of this before falling, but this time I got Mark to adjust the seat.  From what I understand when positioning a bike (again from my RPM days) is that you want your leg that is pushing the peddle all the way down - while you are sitting- to be almost straight, and when your foot is up at the top, there should be a like a plumb line running from your knee joint down to your ankle.  Disclaimer: I don't know if this is in fact the true measurement for a road bike, but it is for a spin bike.  Now this time I took it for a spin around the block using my running shoes!  Much better idea.  I literally went around my block 10 times, playing with different handle bar positions, learning to change my gears.
120$ for 25 year old steel road bike!  Needed new inner tubes and tires!

 Ohhhh the gears!!!!  stupid gears!  I was totally spoiled on my hybrid bike, because all you had to do was turn a little dial and voila! gears changed, nice and smooth.  Well not so much on a 25 year old road bike.  I have these two levers between my handle bars, and they like to stick, and make noise and they do not like me very much!  so that aside, I rode in circles until I felt confident on my new seat position and bent-over-arms-reaching position.  Then I put my spin shoes on (they have a little metal thingy on the bottom).  I sat on the bike, holding onto the van door and just practised clipping in and out.  I've done it a bit in the past on a stationary spin bike, you have to torque your heal outwards to unclip.  However again spin bike..., stationary... road bike... being held upright by two tiny wheels and MY BALANCE! 
Gear shifters!  I am not a fan! But can't complain for such a cheap bike!
My 2 year old spin shoes that miraculously fit in the pedals I got at Bikefest for 1$

Took the old pedals off and put these on, you can still ride with running shoes too!

Now I was ready to take my bad boy (because it's steel and blue) out for real test ride with shoes and clips.  I was smart and did take off and practise getting in and out on our front lawn, then I just got on the road and went around the block another million times.  In terms of speed I didn't notice a huge change.  And I do remember seeing road bikers pull up the the curb to unclip so they keep one foot in and balance on the unclipped side, so I practised doing that! 

Fast forward a few days and I am not setting out for my first "big" ride, something far from home!  My plan is to ride to Mountain Equipment Coop because it's has a bike shop and they are open till 9PM.  So shoes on - check, helmet on- check, water,phone and credit card in camel pack - check, cute lululemon shorts- check, MEC long sleeve moisture wick shirt on- check, black fleece overtop- check... I take off...  On back roads to get to Brant street.  Now little did I know how steep the freakin incline is on Brant street (here in Burlington), I've always been in a car!  What a shock! My bike speedometer/computer was clocking me going nearly 50kms an hour!!!  (ok really 47km and hour) but still.  Holly cow!  I was fn petrified I was going to die, seriously seriously scared.  I did push my breaks a bit, but then I got scared they wouldn't work properly (which was why I was heading to MEC in the first place to get a tune up).  So I did the only thing I could think of... flex my abbs like I was going to die...  I just locked everything in, had a death grip on the handle bars, and hoped to GOD I wouldn't hit some grate in the road or something else.  And finally I made it to the store!  In one piece!  So by now it's about 8:20, not dark out but overcast and rainy.  I got them to look at my bike and do a half tune up on the spot (because for a real tune up, they would have kept my bike for a couple of days).  Since I was at MEC anyway, I decided to buy a pair of bike shorts (because even that short 10K to mec- downhill) was enough to convince me of their value.  Another thought that occurred to me was the fact that I didn't want to get hit by a car, so I looked for the brightest vest they had (I could have worn one of those orange targets - you know the crossing guard ones- but couldn't bring myself to the dorkyness factor of that) so settled on a really bring yellow one!   Good heaven's, I bought the cheapest shorts and vest and the cost was almost as much as I paid for my bike! 

Anyway, now I am the proud owner of some swanky bike clothes, a steel bike (aka... really heavy), and shoes and clips.  As a side note, last weekend was Bikefest at Spencer smith park held my MEC so they were getting rid of bunch of second hand clothes and equipment,(you know returns and such that they didn't want to store anymore) and I totally scored a stupid amount of amazing gear for next to nothing.  Got my bike peddles for 1$ (a 50$ value) just to give you an example.  My camel pack was a prize won my my super awesome daughter for a bike runner race they had!   Note to self!!!  must return next year for Bikefest to stock up again!

Holds 2L of water!  and it was FREE!!!!  thank you MEC
You can't really tell but I swear the yellow actually glows it is so bright in reality.
Tuesday night was our first "official" practise for the tri-club.  It was a 15KM hills ride and a 2.5K run.  Apparently this type of workout is called a Brick workout, because after biking your legs feel like bricks!  And as I mentioned before I didn't really notice the difference the bike shoes made, until this practise!  They were sooo useful on the hills because they make the "up-stroke" so much easier.  I was passing people going uphill on mountain bikes!  And I'm not a very good cyclist remember I just learned to ride!  But the clips made all the difference, and on the way back to the track, I continued focusing on the "up" motion of my feet and wow again a huge difference in speed! So much more power to be had.  Everyone can push down that's the easy part, but now add in the element of pulling up and pushing down = magic.  And I also had to force myself to shift down and stay sitting while going uphill.  This was new because I like to muscle my way through stuff, but as Coach Nancy said "triathlon training is different because we are doing 3 consecutive races, we need to focus on saving our legs!  So gear down down and increase your pedal speed while climbing a hill".  (I think that the right way, still not sure of the lingo yet, gear so it's easier to pedal going up hill, and more difficult to pedal going down)


  1. Yay! Congrats on finding a bike: your dedication paid off. As for all the other stuff, you are one courageous and determined chika, for all of this, and even the shorts. I cannot stand to wear them as I find them uncomfortable but then my butt hurts too...ah well.

  2. Try Rock and Road Cycle.. on Guelph Line.. just south of Dundas next to Brick Oven bakery.. small shop but they are very nice.

  3. Essentially, FOCUS BIKES has a very wide range of models to choose from including their Mountain Bike line, electric bike line, and beginner road line on up to the champion type models. We carry all models and can guarantee that there is a FOCUS BIKE that would fit your riding ability perfectly.
    Focus Bikes.

    1. James is Focus Bikes willing to sponsor me??? Mom of 4, first triathlon??? great promotion!!!!