I fondly remember learning to ride my banana seat as a kid. It was beautiful with streamers on the handle bars. We lived in a neighborhood where bike riding was the norm. We rode bikes as a family–even had a baby seat of the back of my mom’s bike so I could join in the fun before I knew how to ride my own bike. But somewhere along the way I grew up and traded by bike for a car and bike riding became a thing of the past…until I decided to do my first triathlon.
I think because of my early years on a bike I have taken to the bike pretty naturally. I’m not fast by anyone’s standards, especially post surgery, but I really do enjoy a nice bike ride. Don’t get me wrong, my legs are definitely ready to unclip when it’s over, but I try as much as possible to enjoy the journey between the start and finish.
Many folks I’ve run into tolerate the bike to get to the run and it almost hurts my heart to hear it because it’s the longest part of triathlon and needs to be a large part of your training focus. So I’ve come up with the following tips for others to try and enjoy the bike as well. Let me know what you thing about them.
1) ride with friends–find some people to ride with instead of riding alone. I know that a lot of people try to fit riding in when they can because of other life demands and therefore often ride alone, but riding with friends is so much more fun. If you don’t have other friends who ride, join a bike or tri club and show up to their group rides. You can also ask at the local bike shops about group rides. In my town, we have everything from no drop beginner rides that average 10-12 mph to training races where they get in the high 20s plus and everything in between.
2) have something to look forward to afterwards–for a while a group of us would go eat on a certain night after a ride. It was great to continue the comradarrie of the ride into a meal. Many stories were shared and memories made as well as plans for the next time. As I have mentioned before, one year a friend and I happened upon a ride that ended with wine and watching the sunset. While we certainly enjoyed it at the time, I like the idea even more now because it celebrates the accomplishment right then and there for what it is. But maybe for you it’s a snuggle with your kiddos or putting money on a jar for more gear or a destination race that is your something to look forward to.
3) get a proper bike fit–just because you bought the bike that supposedly fits someone with your demensions does not mean you will automatically be one with the bike, you need to get fit on your bike from a professional bike fitter. You may be thinking I just dropped a chunk of change on my bike and now you are saying I have to drop more to be comfortable…well, yes but here’s the thing you want to be as comfortable and efficient as possible of the bike and a fitter is going to help make that happen. In addition, some stand by their fit so much they give you a lifetime guarantee so you pay once and go back until you get it right. I like to visit mine once a year just to make sure everything is dialed in just right.
4) treat your private parts right–it has to be said because we often dance around this issue but so much of the discomfort of riding is “down there”. So find yourself a great pair of riding shorts (and when you find your fav buy more than one!). Use shammy cream–lots to choose from including gender specific options. Experiment with different “landscaping” options as sometimes the culprit of pain can be an ingrown hair. Let’s the area breathe between rides with some cotton clothing and time off from other adventures if needed. This point come purely from the female perspective, but I have heard guys talk about similar things.
5) enjoy the journey–let your ride be about more than the workout. Of course get your workout done and celebrate that, but take the time to look around and enjoy that as well. Where we often ride there are lots of options for wildlife encounters from cows to llamas to peacocks and hawks. There was even an eagle nesting (a rarity around here) along the road earlier in the year. I love looking at the houses along the way as well and taking in the small town feel of these places that we ride. I always see these picturesque Louisiana landscapes on my bike rides from the old abandoned corner store to the boats along the Mississippi River. We see things on a bike that others only see in movies.
I hope these tips help you in some way if you are struggling to enjoy riding the bike. Do you have others to add to the list?
***I’m linking up with with You Signed Up For WHAT?!, Blisters and Black Toenails, and The TriGirl Chronicles for TriTalk Tuesdays! There is a new theme each month related to triathlon training, tips, and general chatter. Check out the above links to their blogs for more info on how to participate.
My bikes over the years:
2) Cinderella–who kept loosing her glass slippers at the ball
3) my first tri bike that has yet to be named