Tuesday, 19 July 2011

"Hey Em, I've just had a crazy idea...."

Last week I bought a bike. Not just your everyday run-of-the-mill bike you had as a kid, but actually a big kids bike. A real road bike. 

Having not ridden a bike since I was about 14, I was a little bit daunted to finally have a bike with the "rams horns" handlebars (officially known as "The drops"). Not being one to do things by halves, I went for it all, the rams horns, the skinny-minnie road tyres (which look about as stable as a hippo en-pointe) and the carbon fibre soled shoes with zero flex that locked into the pedals and made you walk like a penguin when off the bike... Thats if you manage to unclip your feet before the bike falls over, taking you with it! And just because nothing in bike-land makes any sense, they then go and call these clip-less pedals. No wonder it's all so confusing!

My new child. A Giant TCR advanced W in an extra small. Now affectionally known as Roxy. (Thats short for the ridiculous oxymoron that is a Giant bike in an extra small). Image: www.giant-bicycles.com

So I picked Roxy up last Wednesday. Practiced clipping in (to the pedals) on Thursday, much to the entertainment of the local council workers on a break at the local park. Fall tally = 1. 

The problem with clipping in, is that if your balance is off, just ever so slightly, and your foot is in that pedal... there is nothing you can do. Zilcho, nada, nothing. You are going down! Its a strange mix of slo-motion falling, with frantic thoughts of "unclip, unclip" yet there is a sense of calm, knowing that your efforts are futile, and also a sense of hilarity about the whole thing. There is a certain elegance to the way you fall over when clipped in. Its like a tree. Lopped at the base, you fall as one straight piece, right on over, still holding onto the handlebars and land with a "thud". 

However, no real damage was done, and I clambered up, vowing to avoid doing that again as much as possible!

Since I was still having trouble with the pedals, and hadn't actually ridden anywhere yet, I decided to wear normal shoes on my next attempt.

Friday 15 July. 

I decided to meet up with a friend and actually try and ride this bike. The first things I noticed were:

1. Riding a road bike on the bricks they make pavement out of, such as on Australia Ave at Homebush Bay, are not conducive to a stable riding experience.

2. Road bike saddles HURT! And that was discovered only 2 minutes into the ride!

3. Normal leggings on a road bike are a disaster. a) Due to the aforementioned Number 2 and b) because you need to spend the whole time pulling them up. When you combine b) and number 1 together, your fall tally can very quickly escalate!

Luckily, since I was wearing normal shoes, I did not fall today, which was good for my confidence. Unfortunately, due the severe lack of saddle comfort, I could not sit properly for the next 2 days.

Sunday 17 July. 

My sister had offered to take me riding out at West Head. She had promised that it was relatively flat,  and we could cruise around and I could learn to clip in and out without falling over like a lopped tree.

She was right about it being relatively flat... when we were IN THE CAR! On the bike, that's another story. I was about to learn just how unfit I was. I knew I was unfit, as since I started working crazy hours I had been struggling to exercise, but geez, these were tiny hills I was struggling with. So after about 40 minutes of struggling up and down hills in the rain and fog, we called it a day.

Fall tally: 1 TOTAL: 2
Damage count: torn grip tape, scratched shoes, left hip redecorated to a new shade of deep purple, palm of left hand accessorised with a handle bar imprint in the same shade as the left hip. 

Lesson learnt: Even if you unclip the pedal on the right, if the road is tilting to the left, the bike will tend to want to go that way. Either unclip on the left, or compensate accordingly. Failure to do so will result in an increase in the fall tally. TIMBERRRRRRRR!!!!

Tuesday 19 July

So that takes me to today.

Just  a normal day when out of the blue I get a text from my sister. 

"Hi Em, I've just had a crazy idea. Redkite have a fundraising ride that goes from the coast to Kosi on the 19th November. You need to fundraise 2.5K but it's for kids with cancer and their families. It's fully supported and goes through Jindy and looks fab. Want to do it? Would give you something to train for. L"

So I've heard of this route. My sister's husband had done the Coast to Kosi ultramarathon on a similiar route previously. (Yea I know, they're fitness junkies!) I'd heard all about it. It sounded hard. Actually, like Hell. 248kms of Hell. But being a skier since I could remember, there was something about riding from the beach, through Jindabyne, and up to the top of Mt Kosciusko that enticed me. And it was for kids with cancer. Who can say no to that?

So with zero fitness. Having actually ridden this road bike twice, for a total of about 2hrs, with an inability to make it up the slightest hill, I registered for the Sea 2 Summit 2011.

It starts from the beach in Merimbula and finishes at the top of Mt Kosciusko 248kms later and 5500m vertical higher. (Oh, and did I mention there's a time limit?).

So if 248kms wasn't bad enough, dont forget the 5500m of vertical!


The way I looked at it, I could do something impossible, but maybe attainable, like the Project Futures Cycle from Sydney to Canberra to help stop sex trafficking (a highly worthy cause which I will incorporate into my training if I can. Check it out here: Project Futures Cycle Challenge 2011 )

Or, I could do something completely off this planet, and of epic proportions. So I went with "Go hard or go home" and "what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger".

Pulling this off will be one of the greatest achievements of my life thus far. 

So now I have 3 and a half months to learn to ride a road bike, and learn to ride 248kms and 5500m of vertical. 

Wish me luck!

Images courtesy of www.redkite.org.au

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