Less than a week ago, I really wanted to quit cycling. If I weren't training for the Rapha Women's 100 for my new job, trying to impress my new boss and colleagues with my go-to attitude, I would have returned my loaner road bike, focused my Tuesday evenings back on running and shelved the fear of falling off this two-wheeled contraption forever.
But, I can't: because I've been assigned to complete this training for my job.
I had recently wanted to quit after one particular ride. In addition to the once-a-week group rides with the local Rapha Ambassador, I obviously need to ride more miles on other days. But, my brother isn't always available, and it's not like I have a ton of cyclist friends, so I hit the bike path on my own.
What a bore. It was our first day in Dallas where the temperature reached the mid- to high-90s, and a simple 11 miles felt brutal. I went home cursing the sport.
But, I returned to the group ride Tuesday. After we had seen an intense lightning storm that afternoon, we had a cooler evening with a clear blue sky. We rode 30 miles that night—my first trip that ended in the dark—and it felt 100 percent easier than my 11-mile sufferfest days before.
And that's when I started to realize that what people had been telling me was true: cycling is about camaraderie.
I had been looking at cycling as a workout, and I was really surprised that doing it alone wasn't fun for me. After all, I prefer to run alone, getting lost in the rhythm and almost feeling entranced as one foot goes in front of the other for miles. While running, I focus on myself, think things through and burn off steam. But with cycling, I have to pay attention to what's going on around me and my fellow cyclists.
But as we were hitting mile 20 or so Tuesday, I realized I was having a lot of fun. It wasn't really because it was less hot that day, nor was it that I had more rest or anything—it was only because I was riding with other people.
Cycling is the one sport I've found that I really enjoy doing with others. Not only that, but I'm finding that, for the time being at least, I may actually require riding with others to really enjoy it.
Now I understand why there are groups who meet weekly to ride, why there are rallies seemingly every weekend when the weather's right.
So, if you're like me and aren't really digging hitting the trails on your own, find yourself a group to join. It's pretty easy: For the next month and a half, you could join a Rapha training group in your area, or, see what's going on Facebook.
I've learned that the cycling community is really flocking to the social media site to organize group rides: You can search "cycling" and come up with groups in your area, or start following a local bike shop. You'll find many of them post upcoming group rides in your area.
I'm glad I didn't quit after that one day when I felt defeated after a ride. I was really ready to throw in the towel. But once I jumped on the saddle again and started riding with others, I figured out this was probably worth it. It's not just about feeling a burn on a ride, it's simpler than that: it's community.
Six weeks to go until the 100KM event.
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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