Besting the bike

This weekend I went out for one of my longest rides ever- 30 miles. 30 miles is a fine distance, but definitely nowhere near where I should be for an Ironman in August. I sketched out a loop that started at the Orinda BART station, climbed up Pinehurst Road to Grizzly Peak and then brought us back to our start. A few points:

  • In Orinda multiple people honked at us even though we were obeying laws and being good cyclists. Most frustrating was that they were aggressive only for us to catch us at the next light. It’s kind of disappointing that people lose all manners once you are clipped in to a bike.
  • Although our route was only 30 miles, the climbs were nasty for a newbie cyclist. The 7% grade paired with hairpin turns and narrow roads was a little harrowing but the fact that I couldn’t breath was a nice distraction from worrying about getting hit by a car on the turns. At one point a runner was running faster than I was biking. If you were curious: that sucked. About a half mile later I almost offered to trade someone my bike for their Newfoundland that I could ride Mr. Dog up the hill instead.
  • Overall the cars that passed us were awesome (I said many silent thank yous under my breath once I got it back) and the other cyclists on the ride were so nice. At the top of the biggest hill we pulled over for a break and everyone who passed checked to make sure we were ok and just resting versus hurt or having mechanical problems.
  • What goes up must come down and I am not comfortable with speed and rode my brakes nearly the entire way. Again: windy roads, cars, and steep grade were a bit outside this new cyclist’s comfort zone but I’m so glad I’m starting to conquer that part of my fear.
  • The ride was beautiful. We rode through a redwood forest and at the top earned a clear view of the entire Bay including downtown SF and the Golden Gate at the top. The breathtaking views are my preferred way to lose my breath on a ride.

In sum, this was my longest ride where I also had my first big climbs, descents, and it happened after a 10 mile run on Saturday and in some high-traffic areas. Those things make this ride a ride to be proud of, but I’ve had this nagging worry about what my performance on this ride means for Ironman. Today I got up the courage to take a look at the Ironman bike course and was pleased (thrilled?!) that all the climbing we did over 30 miles on Sunday would be spread out over 112 in Boulder. Not that the Ironman Boulder bike course will be an easy course or a flat course, and I’ll need to contend with altitude, but it sure feels good to feel like I might be able to pull off this Ironman Hail Mary.

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