In the last few months I’ve moved twice, bought a condo, started a new job, made a bunch of new friends and … fell in love. I’ve spent a good chunk of the winter having a torrid love affair with my bike that sat in my kitchen unused for over a year. Last November I finally decided to hell with it and arranged a ride with my “ride across U.S. states” friend Linda. She taught me the basics of how to work my bike in the Oakland Hills by her house. Holy crap I was hooked! Who knew that something that brought me such pleasure was blending into the kitchen walls all this time. I remember talking to her about Bay swimming and how my ankles itch like crazy when the warm and cold bloods mix after I get out of the water. She muttered “Sounds like fun (not).” Unlike swimming, you can actually talk to other people *while* actively moving. And the view from the hills is pretty awesome also.
View from the top of Mt. Tam.
Like a lovesick puppy, I was looking for any and all rides to jump on. I seemed to naturally adapt to riding which new cycling friends noted. Ride #2 got me over my fear of city traffic, #4 taught me that I’m a really good descender (to the point where male riders squawked that I should alter my bike so I sit upright more as I’m in a “too aggressive position”..note that I beat them down the hill by several minutes), #7 was my first ride with my best friend Maurice who taught me how to do standing climbs in the Oakland Hills. Ride #8 was a total game changer. #8 was Hawk Hill and my first ride with SheSpoke, a group based in SF that focuses on encouraging women to ride led by the awesome Erika Durmaine. #9 was Mount Tam. I had been riding for about 5 weeks when I did Tam with Erika and Tracy as a SheSpoke ride and we were the only ones wanting to do it on Christmas morning. I’ve since become an active member of SheSpoke. A week later was #11 – Mount Diablo. Six weeks of riding and I’d already done two of the biggest classic peaks in the Bay Area.
View from the top of Mt. Diablo.
#12 was also a game changer. I crashed in the last .5 miles of a 46 mile solo loop in Paso Robles on a hairpin descending turn. I had 3 deep wounds in my knee and elbow and road rash along my right leg. I dropped my bike off at the shop on my way home for repairs. I got myself to my dermatologist’s office 5 days later. She showed me how to care for it to minimize the scar tissue (Aquaphor, petrolatum-soaked gauze, bandage wraps) and it took 3 weeks to stop bleeding entirely. I was back on the bike the weekend after my crash. I was out of the water for 5 weeks. It’s been almost 2 months and I’ll still dealing with a little of the mental aspect of the crash. I was lucky that there weren’t any cars around when I slid across Vineyard Drive. My mind plays the opposite scenario though. I have a recurring daydream that a car is coming the opposite direction during my crash and I can see the the bottom of the car and tires in front of my face as I’m sliding and there’s nothing that I can do about it. I have to keep reminding myself that that’s NOT what happened. I’m damn lucky to be alive because that didn’t happened. I get jumpy thinking that there may be a car around any turn now, especially ones that have a 15 mph sign before it. I still descend relatively quickly and am still working through the trauma though. I survived my trauma of being trapped in a series of 6-foot waves in La Jolla, I’ll survive this one also.
My love affair with cycling hasn’t gone away though. I’m finding a balance between cycling and swimming while I train for my Catalina Channel swim in August. Swimming takes priority in my schedule. Cycling helps with my overall fitness and has actually helped me with my focus as it limits my non-work time even more. I can’t just say “oh I’ll swim tomorrow instead” since I have a ride scheduled tomorrow so I need to swim TODAY. It has helped me finally start shedding excess fat and replace it with muscle. I feel mentally better and more balanced after a ride. I’ve found another nutty cyclist who is happy to meet up at 6 AM for a ride. It’s helped me sort out some more nutritional stuff as I use the same fuel for both sports. There’s no drama with the people I ride with. I’ve accomplished a lot on a bike in such a short amount of time which alone has helped me with realization and acceptance that I can do what I set myself out to do whether it’s the Catalina Channel (21 miles) in August or Levi’s Gran Fondo (98.3 miles, 8,242′ elevation gain) in October.
View from the top of Twin Peaks.