Beginner Triathlon Training: The Bicycle Dilemma

Hilary bike riding in california

Learning to do a lot of new things has definitely been a challenge for me.

I never would have thought that it would have been this hard to do a triathlon. No one tells you how hard it really is!

When I saw the post about an upcoming Captiva Tri, I thought this could be something different.  I never thought that I would have to hire a coach and learn a whole new way of working out!

Everything is a challenge

For example, more than eight weeks ago, I didn’t even get into a pool, let alone swim! Ask anyone, I don’t like to be in the water. So re-learning how to swim was my first challenge.

The bike is another challenge. I rode a bike as a kid from one place to the other.  My parents didn’t drive me anywhere. I had to figure out how to get from point A to point B. So, I rode a bike.  I had a minor bike accident crashing into my friend’s (now my husband) back tire because I was going too fast. I ended up with a concussion.

Then I started riding my bike when I lived with my husband in New York City.  After work, we would pack a picnic dinner and ride to the park. I even did a long ride – 10 miles – with my friend back then. It was part of a bicycle race that went over the George Washington Bridge to a place upstate. I remember the day after, I wasn’t able to walk!

Fast forward decades later and here I am re-learning to ride a bike. “Hil, let’s face it, you never really were a good rider,” said Brian, my husband.

My bike dilemma

I get on the bike and it takes a moment to excel myself forward. Then once I’m riding I’m okay.

However, the other day, I had to stop before going over a bridge. I started to cramp up and psyched myself out of the climb. It took several minutes before I could get myself back on the bike.

There’s so much to think about – the gears, the cadence, the clips (clipping on and off), the position of my hands. I don’t want to take them off the brakes. I’m also a little nervous about standing up. You know what, the whole thing makes me nervous!

I read an article recently in a bicycle magazine that said a lot of people have anxiety and the way to get rid of it is to focus on the moment.  I tried that but when I’m also trying to focus on cadence, heart rate and speed, it makes it a little difficult.

Love riding but…

Don’t get me wrong, I do love the feeling of being on a bike. There’s definitely a sense of freedom that you get riding that you don’t get with any other sport.

I was walking in the city the other day with Elizabeth Montoya, who is an Account Executive here at HJMT Public Relations. We were talking about riding the bicycle and my fear, when suddenly, we saw a man get hit on his bicycle by a Smart Car.

It was disturbing. The man picked himself up and went on his way but Elizabeth and I were really shaken.

“Do you think this means something?” I said to her.

I reached out to my coach. “I’ve been hit three times and the head coach was hit five times,” he told me. Hmmm, that made me feel better?

Maybe I was supposed to see that. Maybe my message was it happens and you move on. Not really sure here, but I know one thing, I need to build up my confidence on the bike otherwise I won’t be able to get this done.