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Switching gears (literally and figuratively) May 12, 2009

Posted by bettyjoan in Cycling.

I used to think that the hardest part of the triathlon was going to be the swim.  However, now that I’ve improved my technique and gained some confidence in the water, I’m not nearly as intimidated as I was at the start of this process.  Don’t get me wrong–I’m no Dana Torres, and I’m still somewhat anxious about what an open-water swim will be like, especially with hundreds of people in the lake/river with me.  But most of my fear and disappointment has been channeled away from aquatic pursuits.

Now I’m afraid of the bike.

Well, let me rephrase.  I’m not AFRAID of the bike.  I’ve learned how to clip in and out, and I think I’m decent at switching gears.  I’m not petrified of falling (though I can’t believe it hasn’t happened yet and I’m sure it will suck when it inevitably does).  My balance isn’t the greatest, but I don’t zig and zag like a five year-old.  I guess the more accurate statement would be, I’m intimidated by the bike because I’ve hit a wall with my cycling and I can’t seem to get any better.

This past Saturday, we went out to Harbins (in Dacula, on your way to Athens on 316) to do what was supposed to be a 25-35 mile group ride.  I admit, I was already at a disadvantage due to my own stupidity–I had taken a challenging spin class on Thursday night, and I had overdone it with the lower-body weightlifting on Friday.  So, my legs felt like jelly before I even got on the saddle.  THEN, I got separated from the group somehow and wound up completely and totally lost.  I found my way back to the correct route eventually, but not without some huffin’ and puffin’, and definitely not without some serious anxiety.  I only did 15 miles (when I was supposed to do 30), and I was really discouraged when I was done.

I just can’t seem to do more than about 20 miles without getting totally pooped and wanting to quit.  This could be, in part, due to the fact that I don’t hydrate properly because I have trouble reaching for my water bottle!  It sounds so simple, but I have major issues with it.  I also don’t feel like I’m getting any faster (even though the clipless pedals and my increased leg strength are supposed to be helping to propel me), which can only partially be blamed on the fact that I’m not riding a tri bike.

I plan on bringing my bike to the shop soon, to see if there are (relatively) inexpensive things I can do to it to make it a little more streamlined (new tires, perhaps, or different handlebars and/or bottle cages).  But a major bike redesign notwithstanding, does anyone have any tips for how to improve the cycling part of my triathlon?



1. Kristin - May 14, 2009

Hi! I just found your blog and was enjoying reading your old posts. I can commiserate with you on the lack of bike improvement. I think the only thing that is going to help me is to continue to increase my distances. Right now my longest rides are about 20 miles, and I have noticed some improvement since I started riding outside a month ago, but my legs are still usually dead by the end. Sounds like you’re doing the right things with increasing leg strength and riding consistently. What kind of bike do you have?

2. bettyjoan - May 14, 2009

Hi Kristin, thanks for the comment! I’m excited to go catch up on YOUR old posts. 🙂 I just don’t think there’s a lot more I can do other than practice, but I find it very difficult to get on the bike for any great length of time during the week (after long days at the office). I ride a Novara Forza, which is great for commuting and not so great for tri. I hope to pow-wow with my bike coach this weekend, as he may have some ideas for how to make little improvements that will pay off in aerodynamics and speed. And of course, I’m putting money in the bank for a new bike next season!

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