This post is more than 10 days old! I wanted to document the toughest bike ride I’ve done so far and it was tough due to numerous factors. One, because the terrain was hilly and crowded in parts, also long by usual standards at 11.1 miles. Second, I had the good fortune of riding with Marilyn, the bike/run coach who didn’t let me coast at all and made me bike hard. And three, because the course was actually harder than I expected. Karen, my workmate who has done the Danskin Tri in Austin before said, ‘Oh, there’s only 1 large hill’. I found to the contrary several large hills.
But it was all good because I learned a ton riding with Marilyn. The Wednesday workout before the Saturday long ride was hill training too. We went to Circle C, suburbia dreamland in South Austin (or is it North San Marcos?) and did 8 loops of a hilly section of the road. Public were driving back home from work and staring at us, crazy women of various ages, sizes and biking abilities going up and down a suburban road. The practice was meant to teach us how to use our gears on the varied terrain. For me, the uphill was hard but not as hard as downhill. I could gear up in the uphill and make it as easy as possible and somehow get up. But downhill, I didn’t really know what to do. So I coasted. It felt relaxing after the uphill but I figured that’s not the point of the training.
So when I asked Marilyn to ride with me, I didn’t know I was going to be in for a good lesson in gear changing and equal cadence. Biking, unlike spin class, is where you’re riding with almost equal effort (or cadence) along varied topography. That’s why one gears up/down based on how the terrain changes. My chain had come off and by the time I fixed it the group had left but luckily for me, I found Marilyn. She rode the entire time with me. She rode behind me and watched every move I made. So when I was spinning too fast, she made me gear down. I did, and she approved of the effort I was using in pedaling. Then a hill came up and of course I forgot to change back. So here I am huffing and puffing when I hear her from behind, asking me to gear up. So I did and that was pretty much the ride when she’d ask me to gear up or down based on how I was dealing with the topography. There were quite a few hills. This ride was around the perimeter of Decker Lake, East Austin which is home to the Danskin Tri so we were doing the race bike course. Which was awesome because I was not prepared for it at all. The only time I had to get off the bike was a steep, rapid incline just after a stop sign. So having stopped at the stop sign, I didn’t have enough momentum for the hill right after. I got off, drank some water and got on again and labored my way up. On several rolling hills, Marilyn urged me to pick up speed. This was really scary. I geared down to the hardest gears possible on both the left and right side, making it as hard. Yet I felt my legs were spinning too fast. Anyway, that gave me a lot of momentum to get over some of the really big hills following a downslope. I think the worst was on the access road to a County Hwy where we went up this very gradually sloping steep hill on the ramp. Ugh, I was sweating like a pig!
I was beat after that ride. It was so different from the fun rides out with Bharath where we’d stop many times and pick the bike routes which were relatively flat. Now I feel I can handle crazy old Exposition Blvd. even!