So, remember that time I decided I was going to do a triathlon? It was about a month ago. I hadn’t swam in a solid five years and couldn’t have told you the last time I rode a bike at anything faster than a leisurely pace, so obviously signing up for a triathlon with five weeks to train for it seemed like an excellent idea.
Well, you’ll be pleased to know I have indeed been training. In fact, my motivation has been somewhat rejuvenated, even if this means I’m still extremely unmotivated. My friend Cameron was nice enough to loan me her road bike while she’s living the glamorous life of an au pair in Australia, I signed up for a membership at the Y, which has a pool, and I’ve been running. I train with Amanda when I’m in Charleston, but up here in Columbia, it’s been a little bit harder. The thing I have the hardest time with is the biking portion. The cardio required to cycle at a decent pace, especially on hills, is intense! I live an area with really poor areas for biking, and it’s only a matter of time before I got hit by a car out here and died alone, so I decided I would find a local cycling group to ride with when I’m in Columbia.
I think you can see where this is going.
Last week was my first ride with the group, and I was so nervous beforehand that I almost threw up. Literally. I was convinced I would be too slow to keep up, but fortunately, a kind group of elderly and/or overweight people took pity on me and allowed me to struggle along in an attempt to keep up with them (Lesson learned: do not underestimate the elderly). We rode 21 miles, and I didn’t do so bad. I even had fun. So this week, I decided to go back.
Let’s recreate the disaster, shall we?
1. I flattened my own tire while trying to put air in it.
Yes, this actually happened. When you ride a road bike, you have to put air in the tires every time you ride it for some asinine reason. So I was pumping away and filled up the back tire. When I went to put air in the front tire, all of a sudden the little tube thing collapsed and there was just this hissing sound. I tried to fix it, but based on my description of the offending part as the “tube thing,” I think you can see that I know nothing about bikes and was obviously not successful. So I had to walk over to a group of serious cyclists and tell them I broke my tire. And I said it in those exact words.
They kindly agree to help me, then ask if I have an extra tube. Nope. I’ve been meaning to get one, but uh…good thing I didn’t, because it turns out I don’t know what a tube is. Apparently there is your actual bike tire, and then under that there is a tube filled with air. Who knew? So I didn’t have any of the pieces or anything but they gave me one and changed the tire/tube/whatever for me, all the while trying to figure out why I literally know nothing about bikes.
2. I quickly realized that no one from the slow group last week was there.
I set off on the ride with everyone else, looking for the slow group from last week, but I didn’t see them anywhere. I peddled for awhile next to an older gentleman who assured me that some of the group would slow down and I would be able to ride with them. Then I found out that the whole group, even the “slow” people, were going to do 27 miles that day, which is a good 6 miles farther than I have ever ridden before. Based on how I felt after last week’s ride, I knew I could do another 6 miles, so I was ok with that.
And then I saw how fast we were going.
I had been told the slow group would ride at 17-18 miles per hour, which is about what I normally ride (baby doesn’t like to work too hard). It’s a sustainable pace for me so I was ok with that. And then I looked down at my watch and discovered that we were riding TWENTY FOUR MILES PER HOUR. You know what’s not a sustainable pace for me? Uh, that. The group was flying out in front of me and there was no way I could keep up, especially not for another 22 miles. We reached the point where the group from last week had branched off, so I just turned and figured I remembered enough of the route to go by myself at my own pace and I would just do the 21 mile ride that day, even if I was going alone.
3. I then discovered that there was a 50% chance of me being kidnapped.
After the fast people got so far ahead, I decided I would be better off taking the shorter route from last week and going it alone instead of getting lost even farther away in the middle of nowhere. What I failed to remember is that the shorter route is still in the middle of nowhere, and it also goes by a ton of industrial plants and other sketchy areas where there are only men, factories, and woods. You know what happens in the woods? Kidnapping and death. You know what happens in factories? People’s bodies get put in grinders and turned into plywood. I’m pretty sure. It occurred to me that this was probably a terrible plan, so I resolved to just ride really fast and pray to
baby Jesus Grilled Cheesus that no one would attack me.
Then, like a beacon of light, I saw a few cyclists stopped in front of a train that was sitting at a rail road crossing. Sweet miracle of miracles, it was the slow group! They had left early and I caught up to them.
Even though they ride just a little slower than I would prefer, it was such a relief to see them. I knew then that I would be safe that day.
4. I almost got struck by lightning, so the ride was cut short.
When I say “I almost got struck by lightning,” I obviously mean more that lightning was in the general vicinity and we had to head back into town. Our ride was cut about 5 miles short, but I still got a workout out of it. The fast group probably thinks I’m dead in a ditch somewhere, but it’s fine. I learned a valuable lesson. If someone is wearing full on Lance Armstrong gear, including the clip on shoes, and they tell you they aren’t that fast and you’ll be able to keep up, that person is lying. They only think they are not fast because they are not literally Lance Armstrong. These people are not to be trusted.
So obviously I’m doing big things in the Columbia cycling community. If you ever meet someone that rides in that group, just refer to me as the girl who rides in sneakers and they’ll instantly know who I am. And then they’ll tell you to tell me to buy the clip on shoes.