Earlier in the week I was cleared to ride my bike and this morning I finally seized the opportunity and went out for my first post surgery ride. Just four and a half weeks ago I had arthroscopic surgery, notchplasty, and a hardware removal procedure preformed on my right knee and this morning I was riding my bike on the streets. It was amazing.
Being a new cyclist, I am still a bit weary of the road and the drivers that zoom by me. I am still learning cycling etiquette, and the feel of my bike. Despite being a novice cyclist, I am finding that each and every ride I go on I have a new sense of confidence on the bike.
This morning, I did a fun and easy 9.05 miles on my bike. There were some small rolling hills and one gigantic overpass that seemed like it would never end. However, I steadfastly kept pedaling and eventually make it to the top. I got stopped by, what seemed to be, the longest train ever, coincidentally while I was on Railroad Road. On my way back home, I rode down the above mentioned overpass hill and hit 27.1 miles per hour before slowing it down a bit. It was such an exhilarating rush going that fast, but I had to slow down. Maybe in a few months I will be much more comfortable at speeds like that.
Overall, it was a great ride. I rode 9.05 miles and averaged 13.6 miles per hour with my fastest speed topping out at 27.1 mph for a brief moment.
As an endurance athlete new to cycling (and one who has been sidelined for more than a year), I am trying to find the correct balance between what I am physically able to do now and what I know my body use to be able to do. At the height of my performance, I ran a PR in the 10K, half, and full marathon with, what I believed were, respectable times. I was averaging about 40 miles a week and I considered a 14 mile run to be relatively short. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to maintain that same level of endurance and fitness with all that I’ve been through in the last year. Luckily for me though, I am able to cycle and my new bike is pretty awesome.
I’m finding my most difficult challenge right is now to understand and accept my current fitness level. I am no longer in my peak physical shape. I also no longer have a resting heart rate in the low 50s. I am not in “marathon shape” anymore. In cycling, this translates to me thinking that I can ride much farther than I should. Just with running, I’ve found that with cycling you do not want to increase your distance too much at once. My rides on the bike are still relatively short, but I am slowly increasing my distance. I am also feeling that after a few weeks of riding, I am feeling much more confident on the bike. It is even easier to look behind me now to see if cars are coming if I have to get into the left-hand turn lane.
While I know that at one point I would have been able to ride much farther and quicker, I am content with my current riding. I know my dedication, determination, and drive (after my next surgery) will transform me into the century rider that I want to become. Today, I went on a relaxing, challenging, fun, and adventurous bike ride. It was a blast. I had a great time. I even got to thinking that I am quite lucky that I can still do such things like cycling. I have to admit it, cycling is just as almost as fun as running. Today I rode almost 9 miles. My distance is still very short, but it is increasing, which is good. I love how I get to discover new areas of my city and see just how beautiful some parts of it are. While riding today, I had to stop and take a couple pictures with my phone. I wish I had a better camera phone because it was so pretty. Mount baldy covered in snow was peaking over a hill filled with mature landscaping and established houses. These pictures really don’t do the area any justice. I promise, it was so much prettier in person. Although, perhaps it was so pretty because I was so happy to be out doing something I love. Yeah, that’s right. I love cycling already. I’m hooked and I haven’t even participated in an organized group ride yet.
Today I rode 8.84 miles in 39 minutes and 12 seconds. I averaged 13.5 mph and my fastest speed was 22.0 mph cruising down a hill.
First and foremost, I would like to welcome you to the very first entry of my blog which now bears the name “Christina Rides.” After receiving the most unsettling news about my knee and the lack of running in my future, I decided that it was officially time to turn a new leaf in my life and keep continuing on. While the thought of another major knee surgery and never being able to run again still troubles my mind tremendously, I have to do the best that I can to stay positive. As much as I want to cry and dwell on the thought of never running again, I must keep trying to find the positive in all this. Don’t get me wrong. I am no where near over or even okay with the death of my running, but living in denial is getting old and it is time to accept what I now have to deal with. And I am dealing with it by continuing with endurance sports. I am now, officially, a beginning cyclist!
Last weekend my husband and I went to a local bike shop to buy me a bike. I was quite overwhelmed inside the shop. While I consider myself to be very knowledgeable in the sport of running and marathoning, cycling is an entirely new world to me. All of the parts, components, and technology are rather foreign and I know I have much to learn. The store manager helped us out. He explained the difference between various bikes, fitted me for a bike, and helped me pick out one in my price range. I ended up getting the Trek Lexa S, which is a women’s specific design.
Since I’ve bought my bike, I’ve gone on two very short rides. Each ride was a little more than four miles and much more difficult than I would like to admit. Even though I’ve been doing my best to stay in shape since my surgery and injury, I am in no where near the cardio shape that I use to be in. I am still getting use to all of my gears and when to be in which one. As the manager of the bike shop said, I have a big learning curve in front of me, but I am excited to begin this new chapter in my life.
One common and quirky running quote states, “my sport is your sport’s punishment.” If that is true and running is the punishment for other sports, then the stationary bike must be the punishment for running. Particularly, it must be the punishment for injured runners.
I loathe the stationary bike with every ounce of energy I have right now. It is so boring, mundane, and awful. Every second I spend spinning away on that bike feels like minutes dragging on. With my current injury, the bike is the only cardio I can do right now. I definitely can’t run and I am not sure if the elliptical machine would make my injury worse.
There are things I try to do on the bike to make the time go by faster, but they really don’t help much. Every mile that goes by I wish that I was running instead and I am just counting down the time until I can call my bike session a decent cardio workout. One thing that I do to try and pass the time is play a little game with myself to see how high I can get my heart rate. I know this is interval training, but for me it is a game. Today, I was able to get it up to 176. Last week I was even in the 180s. Another thing I do while on the bike to try and pass the time is listen to my music while reading the CNN closed captions that flash across the overhead TV. I also try and pass the time by synchronize my pedaling to the beat of the music. Finally, when I have the resistance pretty high and I am spinning at about 100+ rps, I lean forward, hold onto the front of the bike, and imagine that I am finishing up a century ride and that I am pedaling through a scenic, hilly forrest or down the California coastline.
Even with these games and tricks that I play while on the bike, I am still on the bike and hating every minute of it. I think it is the most miserable form of cardio. I should probably just start going to spin class now because I actually enjoy spin class. I know this may seem like a contradiction seeing as how I despise the stationary bike but enjoy spin class, but it is what it is.
The Pasadena Marathon is just around the corner on November 16 and I want to partake in the festivities, especially seeing as how this is the inaugural year for the event. Earlier this month, I ran my second marathon in Long Beach. Before lining up at the starting line for Long Beach, I had the opportunity to see some of the bike tour participants pedal their way through the marathon course. “How neat would that be?” I thought to myself.
So, I have decided to take part in the Pasadena Marathon bike tour. Seeing as how I already have access to a road bike, I needed to buy biking shorts and a super cool helmet, which I did. Next, I needed to start a mini training session in order to get my quads and butt ready for a 26.2 mile bike ride, which I am doing now.
In several weeks, I will be completing my first bike tour. As I branch out from just running to also running and biking, I hope that this race serves as a slow but steady transformation for me from a runner to a triathlete.