It came up again in casual conversation as it almost always does….
“So, when did you start cycling? I guess you’ve been at it awhile?” ( you can also interchange “running” as well with these questions)
Ok, I’ll admit I love the opportunity to share sports I’m passionate about especially if it encourages someone to want to get out and try it. It’s obviously fun for me when the person is involved in whatever activity and we can “talk shop”. I use those times to pick brains and learn more from someone who might have more experience in the field than I do.
So when the question came up I shared I had only gotten my “real” racing bike a year ago but there was a catalyst that propelled me to that because before then I felt like…
A Wanna Be Biker Chick
I usually back up to the fact that running is my passion, and as passions go I had thrown myself whole heartedly into my love and also picked up an injury that had majorly side lined me from my passion. (Heavy training for a marathon, straight into a 50k… but it was so worth it)
I had a bike, a cheap little mountain bike, that I used for cross training days when I’d give my legs a break from running. There were honestly weeks that went by I didn’t see the bike. I loved running. I didn’t consider myself a cyclist. I was a runner.
I was at Walmart one day and realized they had cheap little “road” bikes for sale.
Ahhhh perfect I thought. This will get me moving more on the bike and I can maybe start training for “something”.
A road bike was, for me, an upgrade from a mountain bike. I still did not see myself as more than a casual bike rider. But none the less, I started packing some miles on it. About my only nod to looking like a cyclist was wearing a helmet ( for heavens sake…always…wear a helmet no matter what)
I’d see “real” cyclists flying down the road in their sleek clothes, bright helmets, feet clipped into pedals, on bikes that were the price of a good used car and think those are REAL cyclists….
I still felt like a wanna be biker chick.
I took my trusty new road bike to a local shop in town for a “tune up” before I started pushing more miles on it.
The tune up cost me what the bike did. Seriously.
By that time I had been logging some real miles, using it as a substitute to fill my craving for all the miles I wasn’t getting on the road running. I was already entertaining the very lofty goal of the duathlon if my feet would just heal up already.
I shared this tidbit with Mr. Knowledgeable Bike Shop Man … he nicely said..” I don’t think this bike is going to work for what you’re wanting to do.” He then of course started showing me nice pricey little bikes he had available and I just thought he was trying to upsell me and make some money.
Ah. Little did I know.
A year rolls by…..
I had been seriously abusing my little bike. I was logging anywhere from 45-55 miles a week on it. I was getting hooked. I still had my duathlon dreams lurking in the back of my mind and the bike gave me the adrenaline of miles without beating my body up.
As things happen in life I came across a nicer road bike for re-sale. I had taken it in to another bike shop to have them look at it and to see if it would fit me (when you have a long body and long legs you gotta consider these things!)
Of course, the bike was to small for me.
As luck would have it, he had a bike that would fit me perfectly. He wheels out this bright, shiny red Cannondale that looked like the equivalent of a sports car to me. With a few tweaks and adjustments he hands it over to me telling me to “take it out for a spin”.
I am hardly dressed to ride that day in slim fitting black pants and combat boots but he didn’t have to tell me twice. It only took minutes in the saddle to feel the difference and know this was a game changer.
This would help me get to my goals.
As I came zipping back in feeling like a kid with my hair flying everywhere ( the only time I rode without a helmet) I knew I had to have that bike.
Yet still nagging in the back of my mind… you aren’t reallllyyy a cyclist….
The bike was on sale. He had a limited number. I left that day and basically started selling random possessions no longer needed and squirreling that money away. Within a month I had not only the money for the bike, but also for cycling shoes ’cause I was doing it all.
I was getting the racing bike and shoes to clip in.. geez I thought running shoes were expensive!
As luck would have it, when I got to the bike shop he had one left. He has told me over and over how glad he is I got it, that it was still there for me.
He (still) tells anyone in the shop when I’m in… “DUDE! She was riding 50ish miles a week on a Walmart bike!”
To which I get looks that you would receive if you said you had just hiked the Himelaya mountains… one does not simply ride that many miles on a Walmart bike. I have sense learned… things fall apart on them at the most inopportune times… like when my handle bars started turning every which way but loose and I had like 5 miles to keep riding back trying to hold them in place. Good times. They are designed for spins around the neighborhood with your kids but not beating the life out of them 25+ miles at a time.
Maybe I am a cyclist…...
Hanging out in a bike shop talking with like minded people who don’t think you’re crazy, who are ridiculously smart on the topic, and push you to your athletic goals is a cool thing. I realized that they completely considered me one and were willing to help and teach me things ( as in learning to change a tire) I was in recently talking about my training and he referred to me as a duathlete and I looked around thinking he meant someone else.
I told hubby later and he was like… “uh… you ARE a duathlete.”
We just celebrated our one year anniversary together.
No. Not me and the hubby, me and the Cannondale that is. I’ve put over 1500 miles on it which compared to some riders, isn’t a lot, but for me it represents lots of training miles, lots of discipline and learning new things. I’ve become stronger and more confident in what I’m doing. I take it in frequently for it’s free tune ups and to talk bike stuff with people who still know more than me. Since I have (officially) signed up for my first duathlon which is in November, I have a team at the shop that will make sure my bike is in top condition for the event. That’s kinda cool, I think.
So I’ve been burning up the road. A wounded runner turned cyclist…turned duathlete…maybe I really am one now….
But I’m more of a rebellious, nonconforming cyclist……
First, I break all cycling rules by acknowledging another cyclist who’s sailing by me. I mean… we are passing each other… can’t miss one another… but I’m always blown away at how many seemingly look right through me. Runners are so different on this score… in the cycling world I think it’s some unwritten law to not acknowledge each other…
I do have more gear now. The helmet of course. I just got a cool new Giro a few months ago. Of course I have their cycling shoes as well and even though learning to clip and unclip and all that goes with it was a learning process, it definitely helps deliver a lot more power on the bike. Now I can’t imagine not riding clipped in. A lot different than riding in my running shoes from a year ago!
But you will most likely find me on these warm days in nothing more than my sports bra and my running shorts. Yeah, my running shorts. I do have cycling shorts but training for a duathlon and having to run, I find my running shorts work better. So I’m training like I will race. Although, November is gonna come around and change things up 😉
Cycling can get crazy expensive so I invested into the stuff that matters ( a good bike, shoes, helmet) and I fly on the cheap with the rest of it. I love some of the cute cycling kits available but prices on them are crazy so… until I get a sponsor for my fav’s … I’ll keep trolling Ebay for cute ones with good deals 😉
I am a cyclist.
The “wanna be biker chick” idea left a long time ago.
Even if I accidentally stumbled into the world of cycling, I’m here. I’m in it. I’ve found another sport I actually enjoy and it turns out, I’m pretty good at.
As the guys at the bike shop tell me “You wanna be better? You spend more time on the road. You ride. You push yourself. You learn.”
So I continue the journey, on foot and bike. constantly grateful for the opportunity to do both and excited to see where I can go from here.
With open roads, the challenges are unlimited.
Tell me, have you accidentally stumbled into something only to find a new passion?
7 thoughts on “The Accidental Cyclist”
Love the blog entry! I found cycling after high school, because of long distance training for the mile and two-mile, not to mention all the base miles for Cross-Country. In college I found rowing, but still needed something I could do on my own, so I picked up a cheap Peugeot steel frame (so heavy!) and started rolling around town. Instantly fell in love. One failed marriage and two children later, it was 10 years off the bike, but I picked it back-up and two road bikes later and many miles I’m back into it! Now I’m trying to get back into running shape too and learning how to swim so I can try a sprint Triathlon! Good luck this November!
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What an awesome journey! “learning to swim” I’m glad I’m not the only one who needs to learn that to pursue a tri ( some day… maybe I will. ) My swimming skills are not impressive which is why a du is perfect for me. Good luck on your endeavors! and thank you!
This is a great post!! I loved reading about your journey 🙂 it’s happened to me really recently with Bouldering and Climbing – I started using them to cross-train for strength and agility (I’m a runner mainly) but have got really hooked!! If there was a climbing wall closer to me, I swear I’d be there 3-4 times a week 😂 I also keep finding myself perusing climbing websites for workout gear, and when I got my first pair of climbing shoes I couldn’t believe id been climbing in ratty trainers with no grip for so long!!
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Wow that is a different cross training activity! That has always looked fun but I worry about not being graceful and falling off haha is it easy to do ? Yeah, you’re hooked once you start going after the gear 😉
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I’m scared of heights and I really had that fear too! But with bouldering, the walls are only about 13ft tall and the whole floor is bouncy padding so even if you fall, there is nothing whatsoever to worry about 🙂 I just find it really fun, and its as tough a you want it to be – the routes are all graded so you can just tick to ones you know you can do, or push yourself harder and know you will fail and fall a couple of times before you master the moves 🙂
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That would be my kind of challenge! Keep up the good work! 🙂
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Great story! And I love that you acknowledge other cyclists too. I feel like it’s my personal mission to get more cyclists to say hi to one another! We don’t bite! Looking forward to reading more stories!
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