yesterday i set out, by myself, for my first seattle to portland training ride. there was more than a bit of trepidation as i rolled out of bed and into my biking gear. will i figure out the shoes/pedals? was my dad right? should i be worried about riding such a long distance? will i get lost out on my own? will i run into something i can't handle? or will i make it home in one piece? will i have to call andy to come get me?
i was feeling pretty official after putting on my spandex shorts and biking jersey. i even stole a cycling cap i made for jeremiah. hey, if i'm going to ride poorly, at least i could look good. i even wore andy's arm warmers...on my legs! shortly after getting dressed, fear number one (pedals and clip-in shoes) was put to the test. andy led me through how to get in and out of the clips and adjusted the seat for me. outside, i put my new skill to the test up and down the sidewalk and within five minutes i was off on my sweet borrowed signal bicycle ( http://www.signalcycles.com/ ) with more than a few butterflies in my stomach.
as i coasted down the washington street hill toward the beginning of the bike path, i tested out the brakes and wondered when i would first have to unclip on the ride...and if i would fall over. i did not want to fall over. i did not want to get hurt. i did NOT want to hurt emily's bike. the light at the bottom of the hill was red, so i braked early and gave myself plenty of time to kick out of the clip. first stop = success. i got back into the clip quickly and rounded the corner, nearing the path -- with long straight sections to ride...and less stopping. picking up speed, i shifted up and down, getting a feel for the integrated shifters. the last time i was on a road bike, was my old raleigh techmium and those shifters were on the down tube. oh yeah. my mountain bike (currently stolen by my oldest child) has grip shifters that you turn. the integrated shifters were easy to work, and by the time i rode past andy's work i was feeling pretty confident. i stopped well in advance of the sunnybrook and sunnyside intersections, the whole time chanting to myself, "i do not want to fall here. i do not want to fall HERE." that mantra was strong after having plunked over one exit earlier, unsuccessfully unclipping when i saw a car approaching. there was only one polite lady there who waited for me to get up, me laughing at myself the whole time as she pulled away. i did not fall in clackamas, praise Jesus. i did not fall in portland. i did not fall again the whole ride. SUCCESS!
watching the mile markers speed past, i marveled at how painlessly i was able to reach points that had seemed so far away in the car. i wasn't sure how far i was going, but knew for every mile i pedalled i would have to ride them back home. for now, my legs were doing great, my lungs were fine, my spirits were high, and my newfound freedom seemed to give me wings. if i had realized that andy would be so giddy to watch me pull away on a road bike, i might have gotten serious about this before. a whole morning to myself? i would endure physical exertion to have some alone time. :)
the airport was in sight before i knew it, and as i passed under the 205 bridge the sky darkened, clouds moved in and the sunshine i had been enjoying all morning disappeared. i stopped on the other side of the bridge to put on my rain jacket, and right about that time started getting pelted with hail. one moment prior to the ice balls, i was ready to ride the path as far west as it took me, but as the weather changed so did my plans and i coasted back under the bridge to have a snack and wait for the worst to clear. about ten minutes later i set back out, this time pointing east and south. i didn't know what time it was and was happy about that. my legs were still doing fine, so with a little clif bar in my stomach i set off for home. the path jogs a bit a few places in portland, but after navigating these changes on the way up i was able to mindlessly maneuver back south. mindlessness is one thing i have always liked about road riding. i can zone out and think about nothing...or think about everything. that is where road and mountain biking differ for me. with moutain biking i had to be all there all the time or i was going to crash. blissfully disengaged, songs ran through my head as my legs found a steady rhythm and i charged up hills and down, again watching the mile markers zoom past.
nearing oregon city i had a choice to make. go UP washington street, or go up the elevator. it is nice to have this option, but i knew i would be wussing out if i took the elevator. in the end, my desire to not fall over on washington street while trying to climb the hill -- the very big hill that, if my legs gave up, would surely leave me lying on the road -- won out over my desire for andy to not call me a wimp and i coasted along main street to the elevator. a leisurely lift left me blocks from home, and with a somewhat worried phone call from andy ("just wondering where you were. didn't think you'd be gone for three hours.") i pulled up in front of the garage.
shaky legs carried me up the stairs and i devoured two sandwiches and water...oh, water. something i should have had more of on my ride. lesson learned. the raging headache that followed two hours post-ride was enough to help me remember to drink more next time. as i ate lunch, my restless legs told me that if i stopped moving right then i would regret it later. so i grabbed the kids and we went for a little walk downtown to see about a new cupcake bakery. wrightberry's was our destination, and we ended up going most of the way down with our neighbor, eli, who was out for his daily walk. good conversation and ample cooldown time were just what i needed. our cupcakes were delicious and we walked home, two in tow for andy who was at home grinding our last concrete countertop.
netflix distracted the kids while i showered and got ready for a little nap. by this time i was very tired. i laid on the couch with the kids and drifted in and out of consciousness to the sound of the backyardigans. dinner and bedtime came as a blur, but i was very happy with the day's accomplishments. i could do it. i rode close to 50 miles without dying. today i am walking around without any aches and pains, except for my seat. longer rides are coming. i may not keep up with my dad and andy, but i will finish seattle to portland. blissfully pedalling along...