I got on a road bike for the first time about four weeks ago, which means I've reached the halfway mark in my training plan for the Rapha's Women's 100 cycling event July 27. I feel like I've accomplished a lot: I've learned more, and I'm starting to actually find a good cadence with my pedal stroke. But I still have a ways to go.
In this time, I have not yet purchased anything for myself. The cycling community is so supportive, that they've loaned me everything as I go through this experience. (I promise, I will actually buy cycling gear for myself soon enough.) One woman I met a couple of weeks ago on a ride even offered to give me gloves out of the blue because she saw I didn't have any.
It's hard to quit when there are so many people supporting you.
Since I started, I've mostly had rides where I feel great. There have been a couple of rides where I felt miserable, which led me to mostly reevaluate my diet. I discovered that for me, starches don't make for a great ride.
Besides going fast, seeing more nature and making new friends, cycling has also offered me the chance to find some more humility.
For example, I still have no clue how to repair anything on my bike. If I need a new tube on a ride by myself, I'm in trouble—unless some compassionate cyclist wants to give me one, I'm walking my bike home.
Full disclosure and admission that I know nothing about gear: I just had to Google the difference between a tube and a tire. It took me a couple of websites to figure it out (I think I understand it, anyway).
I've also ditched T-shirts for bike rides. The Rapha Ambassador I ride with, Bronwen Gregory, convinced me in an email:
"A cycling jersey is cut long in the back to accommodate the bent-over position used in sport-oriented cycling. Any pockets on the jersey are placed on the back panel, as front pockets would tend to spill. Those pockets are where you'll keep your phone, your snacks you'll eat on the road and anything else you may be carrying while cycling.
"The cycling jersey is usually worn with a tight fit in order to reduce air resistance and to ensure safety. Loose fitting apparel while cycling means that material gets caught in gears or on handlebars and it causes crashes and accidents. Jerseys are made from a material designed to wick moisture from the skin, keeping the cyclist cooler and more comfortable."
So, I wear my jerseys (I was just recently given a second one) every time I ride. While I'm not racing and don't care about going faster than anyone, it is at least convenient to have those pockets.
Next week will be a big one for my cycling experience: I'll be clipping in for the first time.
So, once again I'll be relying on the kindness of the cycling community (and a lot of YouTube clips), all while preparing for this next step that apparently guarantees a fall in my near future.
I think I'm going to enjoy this, once I get a hang of it. I'm hearing it'll make my pedaling more efficient, and I definitely can't wait for that.
Are you a cyclist with some experience with clipping in and out? Feel free to tweet any advice using #womens100—I need all the help I can get!
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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