Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Confessions of an Amateur Biker

Bike Diva at the 2006 Intracoastal Century Ride

NOTE: This post relates how the Bike Diva got into road biking two years ago.

My husband and I are recent converts to road biking. We had been enjoying mountain biking at various locations throughout south Florida for a number of years. The mountain bike trails closest to us were destroyed in one of the multitude of hurricanes to hit south Florida in recent years. We decided to purchase road bikes as a way to continue riding while waiting for the off road trails to be rebuilt.

A few months after purchasing our road bikes I received information in the mail from the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society regarding their Team in Training (TNT)program. TNT is the Leukemia Societies main fund raising program. This program trains amateur athletes for local and national events such as triathlons, marathons, and century rides while at the same time raising funds for their organization.

I went to their website to find out more about the century rides and discovered there was a ride scheduled in 5 months time in Cocoa Beach, Florida. I was 42 years old at the time and my husband would be turning the big 50 a week before the century ride. I thought joining a team would be a good way for us to increase our road biking skills while at the same time increasing our level of fitness. The longest road ride I had done up to that point was around 22 miles so 100 miles seemed nearly impossible. But I like challenges so I signed us both up for the century ride.

My husband has a bit of an addiction to bike shops and is always reading about and researching the latest and greatest gizmo’s and gadgets in magazines such as Bicycling. We were riding fairly new aluminum frame Cannondale road bikes and thought they were great. But he began to read more about bikes meant to make your ride more comfortable for longer, leisurely rides such as the rides we were beginning to do while training for the century ride. My husband decided he needed to buy himself a carbon frame road bike and worked out a deal where he traded his current road bike and two other bikes for his new Cannondale carbon frame bike.

After his very first ride on his new carbon frame bike my husband started talking about getting me a new carbon frame bike. Apparently he noticed such a difference in the comfort of his ride by switching from an aluminum frame to a carbon frame bike that he felt guilty that I still had to ride on an aluminum frame bike. I had just switched from my clipless mountain bike pedals to clipless road pedals so I was doing just fine and didn’t even ask for a new bike. But a few days later he went to our local bike shop and ordered me a new Cannondale Synapse 2 Feminine specific carbon frame road bike.

No one will ever mistake me for a hammerhead. My preferred speed is in the 18-20 MPH range, with occasional bursts up to 26-28 MPH. Initially I didn’t seem to notice much of a difference but my first ride on the new bike was by myself without anyone to draft behind. I think I hit a nasty headwind on the second half of that ride and I struggled to make it home, barely getting above 15 MPH. But on our group rides with our fellow TNT members I noticed a huge difference in my riding. I was able to keep up with the fast group almost the entire way. Overall my ride seemed much smoother and I was finally starting to climb out of the saddle when we had to go over any hills.

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