This is the seventh article in a series about a new cyclist training for the Rapha Women's 100 on July 26. This Active editor will ride 100K with other women cyclists that day as part of the worldwide event.
I think I've turned a corner in my amateur experience with cycling.
Last week, I was just about ready to give back my borrowed bike. But as soon as this week's ride with the girls started, I felt empowered. I was riding around the lake, cruising with our small group at around 17 miles per hour (which is pretty darn fast for me).
At the time, I thought it was one of three factors that helped me out, but maybe it was all of them: I was getting more comfortable clipping in and out, I had been more mindful about my fuel that day and I had both tires fully pumped.
Whichever it might have been, I realized riding on two wheels has taught me a couple of good lessons.
During a solo ride last weekend, a passing cyclist told me my back tire was low. It wasn't until that moment that I realized I should probably buy a pump. After buying and using said pump, I discovered the tube needed to be replaced. I showed up to my Tuesday ride and the Rapha Ambassador showed me how to replace it and fill up my front tire, which I had no clue was low.
No one had told me how often I needed to pump up my tires. Maybe it's ridiculous that I didn't know that, but it was a simple fact I hadn't considered. Through figuring out the gears, falling down at least once a ride when my cleat was stuck in a pedal and enduring the intense heat of afternoon rides, I hadn't even thought about the air in my tires.
It made me take a step back and look at the simple necessities of cycling, and reminded me it's a good idea to do this in other aspects of my life, too.
I do believe having adequate air in my tires made a significant difference. I felt like I wasn't working as hard to get moving. But having less fear when starting and stopping has been helping, too.
My first few clipped-in rides, I sat on my seat and moved my right foot back and forth over the pedal until I heard the click, then tried to do the same thing with my left. Then came the prime opportunity to fall.
A fellow cyclist told me to push down on my right pedal while clipping in, allowing the bike to move forward while I stood up to put my left foot in. But there was no way I was going to do that. Keep my balance while moving and standing on one pedal? I couldn't picture that happening without me adding another bruise to my body.
I refused to do it on that ride. I kept with my slow, yet still unsteady, approach of clipping in while seated.
But a few rides later, I realized I just needed to move. Approaching this while staying still wasn't working. So, I pushed forward on the bike, still feeling completely unready, and clipped in. And I didn't fall.
I still don't feel ready when I push forward to clip in. But, maybe that's the way it's supposed to feel. After all, I don't feel really stable until I'm moving.
And isn't that the case in other parts of our lives? Does anyone really feel ready to buy a house when it comes time to sign the mortgage paperwork? Does a soon-to-be mom feel completely confident about parenthood when she's in her third trimester? Does a person feel comfortable when leaving a stable career to follow his dream?
I don't really think so, but we go forward anyway.
I'm going on my longest ride yet this weekend, aiming for 45 miles. I'll probably get tired--either of riding or simply being in the saddle--but at least I know I'll get through it if I just keep moving.
To find out more information about The Rapha Women's 100 or to pledge to ride July 26, visit Rapha's site.
Read more of The Peddler series:
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