Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Epiphany

I was driving home one day, a short time after I'd started this adventure, when I realized that I had set about this biking thing all wrong.

You see, to get to my house you have to drive down a steep hill with a pretty sharp curve halfway down it.  As I was braking down the hill and in anticipation of the turn, it suddenly hit me:

Biking is like driving, in that you BRAKE to control your speed!

It is *not* like skiing, where you FALL to control your speed!

(Ok, yes, there may be one or two *other* techniques to slow down while skiing, but that's the one that works for me.)

I believe Dave reacted thusly when I told him of my epiphany:




Sunday, December 26, 2010

Perfecting the Dismount

Ok, so typically one would save the term dismount for the pommel horse, the rings, or other gymnastic feats.  But, you'd be amazed at how a relatively simple task such as getting off a bike can be embellished.  If you've been following my posts, you know that one way to stop is by crashing.  The more popular method for me in the early days of biking, in order to avoid said crashing, quickly became bailing.  This is a very complex maneuver that, with a little practice, can be completed in ten easy steps.  (It's putting them all together that takes a little perseverance.)

Step 1:  Notice upcoming obstacle.

Step 2:  Hyper-focus on obstacle by initiating tunnel vision.

Step 3:  At approximately 10 feet from obstacle, recall that you have brakes.

Step 4:  At approximately 5 feet from obstacle, begin to apply said brakes.

Step 5:  Upon realizing that you cannot change the laws of physics and/or the space-time continuum,

make a snap-decision to bail.

Here is where it gets a bit tricky, so don't feel bad if you don't get it right on the first try.

Step 6:  Levitate.

Step 7:  Push firmly on the handlebars in order to shove the bike out from under you.

Step 8:  *Gracefully* launch your legs over to one side and prepare to run, thus absorbing the residual propulsive energy you had while still on the bike.

Step 9:  Go retrieve the bike and scrape off the dirt and clumps of grass.

Step 10 (Optional):  Take a bow.  Go've earned it after all.


Saturday, December 18, 2010

I Come Prepared

 After my first very successful bike ride (see previous post) it was time to head for the trails!  At that point I honestly would have preferred to head for the hills, but I was already committed.  Sooo, we threw the bikes in the car and drove off to the very popular Burke-Gilman trail.  I sat in the passenger seat in a zen-like state of calmness, confident that I had already gotten the crash out of the way:

Well, maybe I was a *little* nervous.

Once we arrived, I put on my protective gear.

Dave offered helpful hints that would make me more stable and competent on the bike.  Things like gentle weaving to help with steering

and braking to help with, you know...


My personal goal for the day was a little different, consisting mostly of just going forward while staying upright.

So off we went along the trail.  Things were going swimmingly until suddenly--and without any warning, I might add--the trail sloped downward and a huge bend in the road LEPT out in front of me!  *Naturally*, I cranked my handlebars all the way to the right to prepare to turn.  This caused two completely unforeseeable things to occur:

 #1: my handlebars were now safely tucked away under the top bar of the bike where they could do no harm.

#2:  the rear brake (had I actually considered using it) was now completely out of reach.

I continued to gain speed and rapidly saw the shimmering, picturesque Sammamish River, complete with ducks, zoom sharply into focus.  As I saw it, I had two options:

Option A:  take a refreshing dip and share my musings on biking with the water fowl.


Option B:  bail.

I bailed.


I managed to briefly horrify a lovely couple taking an afternoon stroll, as they ran up to me screaming "OH MY GOSH!!!  ARE YOU OKAY????!!!!"  

(Like I said, they were horrified).  But then, as they got closer, the gentleman quickly evaluated the situation and concluded,  "Well, it looks like you came well-prepared."

It was at that point that Dave rolled up beside me and noticed that I was not currently in an upright position.  Sadly, he had missed the entire show.  Which was too bad for him, because I was not ready for my encore (that will come with the bee story).  I stood up, took my bow, and rode back to safety, a.k.a. el carro.

I suspect that the copious amounts of padding, plus the fact that I had probably been going a brisk 5 miles per hour downhill (okay, it may have been a slight slope) prevented any significant bruising.  Aside from, perhaps, just a little bit of my ego.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

How Quickly We Forget

As I mentioned in my first post, at the time I started my triathlon quest I had not ridden a bike in about 25 years (seriously). So, since I knew nothing about the current bicycle market I decided to go to the person who has always ridden a bike, and ridden it well. That person was my husband, who will henceforth be referred to as "Dave" because, well, that is his name (hehe). Anyhoo, Dave took me to the local REI where we talked to some lovely salespeople. Upon hearing that I needed a bike for my FIRST TRIATHLON they could barely contain their excitement! They regaled us with stories of how wonderful the Danskin triathlon is, and how some women bring their rusty old 10-speeds to the race. I, on the other hand, was in luck because I was going to get a road bike and would be able to sail past all the other racers! So I left with a brand-new, beautiful road bike, with absolutely no experience in "hand-brakes" or gears. Of course, we were talking about riding a bike and you know how the saying goes...

Once home, Dave coaxed me into taking the bike out for her maiden voyage. I walked her down the driveway and hopped on (I *may* have hopped on 5 or 10 times before sticking the landing). I headed off down the road feeling like I was going uber-fast. In retrospect, it was really just my heart hitting top-speed. Nonetheless, I had a clear impression of how I looked on my sleek new wheels:

 Unfortunately, according to Dave I looked more like this:

*Note if you will the severe bike lean to the right, paired with the severe body lean to the left (balancing each other out, of course) and the butt sitting squarely on the outermost edge of the seat.

This led to the following views of my neighbours' dog at the end of the street:

And that is why Dave insisted I start wearing knee and elbow pads.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Mastering the Athletic Stance

Over the years the husband and I have had numerous conversations regarding the magical Athletic Stance. According to him, you can be competent at any sport if you just use the right posture. It consists of slightly bent knees, and arms out in front of you, also slightly bent. The theory is that it keeps your centre of gravity low to the ground and thus well- balanced. Here you can see him demonstrating the proper form:

Clearly, this is useful for any number of sports, including basketball,


and even weight-lifting.

After many years of observing him, I have developed a perfect replica of said Athletic Stance:

I am able to apply it to all of my new sports, including running,


and swimming.

Pretty awesome, right??

Look for upcoming posts on THE BIKE (turns out you actually can forget how to ride)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

It all began with one conversation

To start, let me just say that if you are looking for serious how-tos for training for a triathlon, this is NOT the site for that. This will catalog my own personal experiences--both real and perceived--with multisport racing. It is my goal to show humourous depictions of my training in all three sports, two of which I have little to no experience in. I am a total klutz and the majority of my “athletic” background comes from eleven years of ballet and jazz; from the ages of 3-14, to be precise. I danced up to 4 times a week, and ultimately left due to artistic differences. I saw myself as talented

and they saw me as klutzy, inflexible and not anorexic.

My husband, on the other hand, has tried his hand at every sport and seems to fully immerse himself into the active lifestyle as though he were born to it.

I decided to sign up for a triathlon with absolutely no previous experience when coaxed by a coworker. When I told her I a) don’t own a bike, b) am not a swimmer, and c) can barely run a mile, she assured me that “anyone can do this one”. “This one” turned out to be the Danskin triathlon, an all-women race that indeed encourages novice racers to try (tri..heh) their hand at this event. Buoyed by the fact that several other coworkers agreed to sign up as well, I decided to embark on this exciting journey! I went home and told my husband the good news!!

He was not as excited as me. He might say he was more "realistic" than me. He reminded me that I a) did not own a bike, b) was not a swimmer, and c) could barely run a mile. I blithely told him that “anyone can do the Danskin” and that I was really in pretty good shape. After all, we had been lifting weights for two years.

And here is the conversation...more or less.

And so it began...

Check back for these upcoming topics:

Mastering the Athletic Stance

(Re)Learning to Ride a Bike


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