"You have a lot of guts, signing up for a triathalon, not knowing how to ride. The only other student we've had who has done a triathlon, that I'm aware of, did it ten years after first learning to ride", was the reply I got back from the Bicycle Riding School in Cambridge. I had sent off an email requesting lessons rather urgently as it suddenly dawned on me that I had about 2 months left before my first triathlon.
I was unprepared for the feeling of panic that engulfed me as I read the email. When I think about riding the 10 mile course that is the bike distance, I suppose I imagined just peddling along merrily (not unlike those riders in the Queen video - except I would be clothed). The idea that I might need to race a wee bit, had not crossed my mind! Still, this did not seem like the moment to chicken out (just a few short weeks ago the stair climb seemed huge - now I am thinking of doing another). I rang the school and discussed the matter with Pata, who is really keen on helping me out.
Unfortunately it has started snowing again, and there is still thick ice everywhere so we might have to wait a bit until we can have a lesson. I was feeling a bit overcome at the time: learning to ride is one thing, riding in a race another, and riding amidst traffic still another! I did not have the courage to tell Pata that I have in fact signed up for two triathlons. I thought I might tell her in person, perhaps when I can ride in a straight line.
Watching the Tour of California has done little to steady my nerves. I usually enjoy the Tour de France, Giro d'Italia, the Paris-Roubaix etc - this time watching the peloton come around corners has left me feeling slightly shaken and stirred.
When the feelings of panic did not subside, I rushed down to the gym last night where I did a proper brick, something I have not done in weeks. I cycled for 30 minutes and managed to do 7 miles, after which I ran for an hour and managed 5.5 miles at a slow pace. I am still not feeling great though my lungs are feeling less squashed. Still I believe nothing is ever wasted. I may have ridden a stationary bike for years, but I have trained hard to use a high cadence both on hills as well as on the flat. Pata thinks this will come in very, very handy.
Still, all this palls into insignificance when I think about the story in the March 2009 edition of Runners World - Matty Long's courage and determination is such an inspiration. My being a scaredy cat, just does not cut the mustard.