So, here I am, all signed up for two long-distance bike rides (BAK and Ragbrai 2023), roughly 70 lbs overweight, and not fit. So I started by getting both my bikes tuned up and ready to ride. I mean, yeah, they’ve been in the garage for like, years.
I started by just riding 3 miles with my dog. It was super cold and I just wanted to get used to changing gears, figuring out how to dress appropriately, handling the bike, and enjoying the ride. Louie thought this was a great new game and he absolutely loved running alongside my bike.
BTW, if you haven’t read my first post on this topic, it might be helpful to provide context.
After a couple of days, I felt capable to try a 10-mile ride. My goal for the first couple of weeks is to just enjoy being on the bike without trying to go fast or work on any sort of technique. I just need time in the saddle to rekindle my love of riding.
So, I took the bike to a rails-to-trails path. It was unseasonably warm for February with an expected high in the mid-40s. I had walked this path many times before so I knew it was tree-lined (which would help with blocking the wind), didn’t have any traffic on it, and was flat. I figured it would be a perfect place to get in my first 10 miles.
As I started my ride, I noticed the path was wet sand in spots and that was very difficult to ride in. For the first mile, it was hit-and-miss and I just hoped it would get better along the way.
For the next 5 miles, it felt like I was trying to ride in quicksand. I was riding so damn slow, I’m pretty sure I could have walked faster.
Let’s add to this scenario that I have some extra weight on my person so the physics of it looked like this. A very large weight on top of the bike, pushing it down into the sand while my legs are trying to power through the wet sand when I’m both out of condition and evidently not as strong as I thought.
It was horrific.
It took me over an hour and a half to ride a bike 8 miles (I had done 3 before I left).
Reframing the Struggle
Because this blog is about overcoming obstacles, I want to explain what I was thinking to help me get through this experience that was supposed to be a nice leisurely ride down a beautiful path. After I got over the screaming obscenities stage, I took a breath and became my own cheerleader.
“Man, this is going to be a great video to look back on in six months and see how far I’ve come.”
“You’ve done hard things. You can do this hard thing. You are NOT getting off this bike. When you ride, you will encounter difficult conditions – rain, wind, cars, and potholes. This is part of the preparation. Just get on with it.” Article: Increasing Confidence by Doing Hard Things
“The good news is you now know that when you are exerting effort on the ride, you won’t need to wear as many layers. This is a valuable lesson.”
When I finally got back to the car, sweating profusely in the 40-degree heat, all I could do is laugh. This is so typical of my life. But it’s also what makes me stronger.
So, yeah, the first ride didn’t go so great. But the good news is, it can only get better, right?