Friday, June 12, 2009

Back in the saddle.

On Sunday Stuart and I went off to Webster, the town which will host the Danskin Sherox triathlon on 26 July. I wanted to try out the bike course, since I the course is described as "hilly - with one especially big hill". Webster is approximately 55 miles from Boston, and by the time we got there, the sun was beating down, and the traffic seemed pretty hectic. Traffic which we were going to ride through!
At this point, I had no feelings on the matter. I just wanted to do the course. Riding through all that traffic passed me in a blur and soon we were on a long road which stretched over many little hills. The problem was that I had too little recovery time from one hill to another, and was soon puffing away merrily. At around mile 4 a ginormous hill loomed. To my eyes it seemed like a Hors catégorie climb! I got the gears completely wrong, and suddenly a quarter of the way up, found myself flailing. I got off the bike, went back down the hill and started again. This time I got about half way up before I had to get off. Same thing with my third attempt. At this point I had a drink of water and walked over the hill, to where Stuart was waiting.
A few smaller hills followed, all a bit steeper than the ones in Marblehead, but with a lot of huffing and puffing I managed to get through them. It was a hot day and these 12 miles seemed to go on forever! Another huge hill followed and after puffing up that one, legs burning, a huge descent followed.
I have never actually asked about descents, since ascents seem to be my problem. However, in one of my issues of Bicycling, I had read that braking on the downhill ruins your bike's rims. So, on the downhill I usually never brake. Admittedly they have all been smallish descents. This one seemed no different - except that I seemed to be flying - literally. I could hardly see, everything passed by in a blur and when I hit a rocky patch, the bike started wobbling.
Well, there was little I could do except hold my nerve, the bike and hope that the wobble would sort itself out. I also hoped that I would stay on the bike, but hey, that's life. My only concern was that I could hardly see! This was a very long descent but finally the road straightened and flattened. At this point I could also hear Stuart shouting at me to stop.
His first words were "why didn't you use your brakes?" He did not seem to want to know that I actually did not know you were supposed to use them. I honestly thought you use them when you stop at traffic lights, cross roads etc. The descent seemed like a place to make up for lost time. Anyway, it seems that I was going at 40 miles an hour, no brakes and it looked scary from the back.
The rest of the ride was relatively conservative. Although smaller descents followed, I practised braking on them, though I must not be too good at this yet, as more shouting followed. Apparently it would seem, you have to brake HARD. Hmmmmm well, I shall have to work on that too. In the meantime, this riding business is phenomenal! New things to be discovered all the time!

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