ICI/PRO Member Kathy Ehrlich-Scheffer shared this story with me and I felt it would be an inspiration to to others wanting to make the move to riding outdoors.
Jennifer & John,
Yesterday I took part in my first century, completing 80 of the 100 miles! I'm very proud of my effort, even though I didn't end up finishing this one... I gleaned so much information by being out there on the road and I already know some adjustments to make in order to be better prepared next year. I definitely felt my "new-ness" of being on the road. I just began training outside a couple months ago for the first time ever, overcoming a rather large intimidation of my very responsive road bike and using clipless pedals outside.
My training was not without its hiccups.
I fell during my first 2 rides, each time while trying to unclip at a stop and leaning the wrong way. The second time the experienced road riders laughed along with me- I had just done a great job on a hard climb, managing my intensity and speed and I was feeling great... until we came up to a T-intersection and had to stop, whereupon I went over. After learning I was ok and still had my sense of humor they cajoled me that "it (the climb and subsequent fall) was done like a spin instructor" and reminded me that road bikes don't stay stay upright on their own. Good tip.
The century was incredible: 337 riders riding the Ride for Missing and Exploited Children in Rochester, NY. Ed Smart, father of Elizabeth Smart (abducted from and later returned to Utah) rode with us- what an honor! There were many ups and downs, literal and figurative. I used it to learn as much as I could- about my own style, about riding in various places within a pack, about fueling my body, and my limits. I found that 31mph wind with 44mph gusts was beyond my limits... especially on rolling hills at the 70 mile mark. I was losing focus and control, fearing for my own safety and subsequently the safety of the riders around me. I knew it was time to rest for a leg on the bus, and I don't regret doing so. It was the sensible, safe choice. I got back on my bike and re-joined the pack for the final 7 miles, completing 80 of the 100.
I have got to learn to shift. Seriously. As a newbie I took a shifting clinic at my local shop, but for some reason, shifting intimidates the heck out of me. I also need to learn to feel comfortable standing out of the saddle. I rode all 80 miles in the same gear and seated... after telling my husband of this utter foolishness he looked at me in disbelief and said, "I can't believe you made it 80 miles!!! Learn to shift and you'll be bloody dangerous!" I am going to start practicing my shifting on rides with just my husband, when I don't feel so intimidated and when I don't have to keep a steady pace "or else." My knees today are horrible sore... I can barely go up and down stairs right now, but it serves me right for not shifting appropriately. Lesson learned.
The thing I could not help was trap pain. I kept going through all of my form cues constantly, kept trying to relax (as best I could riding in a pack of 336 other people), but the pain in my shoulders and neck was unreal by the end. There's actually a picture of me at a mid-ride stop where I'm stretching my neck and my mom is giving me a massage and boy oh boy do I look grumpy! (I attached it... why not have a laugh, right?) I would tense up anytime I sensed a rider getting too aggressive or too close, seeing the crash-that-could-be in my mind's eye. We rode 2x2, but sometimes riders would try to sneak up and that would throw me for a loop... I'm HUGE on safety ahead of everything else and anytime I feel like my safety is threatened I just go all tense. But even on training rides my traps were always sore... I've got to figure out how to curtail that.
The ride itself was very moving, put on by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. I raised $895 (so honored by all the support I received!!) and the Rochester ride altogether raised $125,000. I fought back tears riding past the grave of Jennifer Koon, abducted and murdered in Rochester in 1993. Her father, a NYS assemblyman, rode a leg of the ride with us. We stopped at several elementary schools and were greeted by throngs of screaming school children. I felt like a rock star!
I remember back in January, ICI had a teleseminar on goals for the coming year (I don't remember the exact title). Jennifer- something you said has stuck with me all this time. You said to imagine the day for attempting that goal coming and going, and not having tried to accomplish the goal. How would you feel? Anytime I got scared or intimdated during training I remembered your words and pledged I was going to give it my best shot. I'm proud of my attempt yesterday. I learned so much and I'm going to put it to use both on the road and in upcoming spin profiles I'm developing. My goal in seguing to road riding was both to see what I was missing and also to use it to be a better instructor. I'm already gaining in those areas! And of course, I have a new goal to come back and do the Ride again next year!
I will be a more active participant in ICI now that my century is over, but don't worry- I'm only just beginning to ride on the road! Thanks to both of you for your fantastic work and your support!
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