A morning out on my MTB

Packing the bikes the night beforeI tagged along with KK and DSM on Saturday morning as they headed out to do some cycling training at The Cradle. Luckily for me, I’m not training for anything specific so while they sped off, I used the time to ‘dilly-dally’ out on the road all by myself with no time or distance pressures.

I stopped quite a few times on the road to take some pics with my phone and was struck by the beauty of my surroundings. The air was crisp when we arrived but soon the sun started to warm my back and as I stood next to my bike, all alone, I was taken aback by the silence that engulfed me.Sunrise in The Cradle DSM KK IMG_5822 The Cradle IMG_5824 IMG_5825

Bike silhoette IMG_5829 IMG_5832 cycling gloves IMG_5835 IMG_5841It’s funny, as I runner, I don’t seem to take time to look around me and take it all in. I’m quite focused on the road ahead, my time and my pace. But cycling is different. Unless you’re racing, you do get to do a lot more sight seeing and observing. It was such a stunning morning. I’m so glad I went! The Cradle July 2014-001

Today was ALL about me!

As the thousands of cyclists came rushing passed me riding the Momentum 94.7 Cycle Challenge race, I only realised today that making the decision not to ride the race weeks ago was finally a decision that put ME first. A decision where I selfishly thought about what I wanted to do and chose to ignore that niggling voice in my head that always tries to convince me otherwise.

Months ago, when everyone around me was deciding to ride and buying kits, the pressure to enter the race was immense. I know people meant well when they encouraged me to do it and I kept saying I was undecided and was thinking about it. I truly was. I religiously joined KK at every Monday and Wednesday spinning class at gym. I also entered two 40km cycling races and finished them feeling fresh and invigorated. I learnt that cycling is easier than running and was something I could do!

But what I realised seeing the brave cyclists with their red faces zooming passed me today is that I had made the decision based on what I wanted and not what I thought everyone around me wanted me to do. I am the type of person that often does what I think people expect me to do. I tend to be obsessed with doing things because I am afraid of what people will think of me. But not riding 94.7 was my decision. All mine.

In my heart I knew I would finish. KK had already worked out that I would comfortably finish in just over 5 hours. Besides, I LOVE my bike. (I’m a massive fan of the 29’incher MTB). So the odds were on my side. But is this one of my goals? Is completing the 94.7 something I wanted to do? Nope.

So sitting on my deck chair, sipping on iced tea, chewing on my jelly belly beans, I smiled and for a rare moment, felt at peace and content that I was doing something that made me happy and that I enjoyed. For a change, I was not riddled with guilt and FOMO (fear of missing out) but cheering on others and supporting them reach their goals in my own way.

A runner’s thoughts on a 40km bike ride…

So I managed to complete my very first cycle road race last week! *whoop* Having survived my first puncture as well as being shoved into a starting pack of almost 2 000 cyclists, I walked away feeling pretty chuffed with myself. 

40kms is not that far. It took me 2h18 mins to complete the route on my new bike, knobblies and all. But let me tell you, being new to the sport of cycling, a lot went through my mind during those 2 hours. Here are some of those thoughts… 

When I run, I am able to switch off and allow my mind to go into a different space. Not with cycling. There is no chance to switch off as you manoeuvre through other riders, constantly keeping a watch for traffic passing you and always analysing which gear to go choose for the best ride. It is quite draining, both physically and mentally. 

Running is quick and we are done by 10am. Not with cycling. Even though we had all completed our races by 12h30, we still only got home after 2pm. It’s a much longer day which requires much more of an investment in time. 

I slip my shoes on, strap on my running watch and off I go. Oh boy, with cycling, there’s a million and one things to remember to carry with: puncture repair kits, spare tubes, tools. The all in one cycling outfit makes it very difficult to go for a quick toilet break before the race. My apologies to those who might have caught a glimpse of my white bum and belly as I had no option but to strip down in order to do the job right. 

I cannot change a flat tyre to save my life but what I did find is that cyclists all stop to assist one another. If I happened to stop, a cyclist passing me would ask if I was okay. I liked that.

The same goes for accidents. Two accidents happened right in front of me on my race. All cyclists stopped and some got off their bikes to assist the fallen. This is something you don’t see very often with running. I’m ashamed to say that on the odd occasion that a runner has fallen, very few will stop and assist.

Most runners complain of running injuries and niggles. But ask cyclists and they come with war stories of broken collar bones and broken wrists from accidents. Especially those wearing cleats. Injuries are high and the injuries are serious.

The race was timed mat to mat. I will repeat that in case Two Oceans Half Marathon officials read this. Mat to mat!  

One last point: There is something to be said for being ‘bum fit’. I must confess that by the time I got to the 36km mark, I kept jumping up off the saddle as if I was doing show jumping on a horse, just to relieve the pain that I felt in areas of my lower body I never knew existed! Ouch! 

I am looking forward to my next race and will definitely apply suncream! Check out my legs. This was sore jong!

 

MTB’ing is just as hard as the riders

Riding a bike is not the same as running. In fact, off-road mountain biking is not for sissies as I recently discovered.

Last weekend, we decided to join some friends out at Groenkloof Nature Reserve to do some riding. All of us have mountain bikes so it was a perfect spot. However, what I initially thought was going to be basic dirt roads turned out to be a mix of gravel, stones, dusty sand paths and just as many down hills as up hills.

It was a chance for me to try out my new bike and I was so thankful that I had invested in a strong, proper bike which at last fitted my height. My bike handled the turns and tight spots well and I was impressed with how fast she rides on the straights. I’m still happy I chose a 29’er (bike talk).

After what must have been an hour and a half of really technical riding, I was sure I had bruised my cocksix!

My experience of cycling so far? Well..

  • Cyclists do not greet one another. They are the oddest, most unfriendliest bunch.
  • Cyclists are selfish and competitive. There is no such thing as “Let’s all ride together.” If you cannot keep up, you’re on your own buster.
  • More gears make a difference. Do not believe those who try convince you otherwise. It’s the same with good running shoes. If the shoe fits, the run feels good.
  • There is such a thing as being ‘bum fit’.

So it looks like we’ll be trying out Groenkloof in November which should be great fun again. At least I know what to expect and not be too surprised when I get home covered in dust and have a sore bum! But I do believe a few more spinning classes at gym is required to up my fitness levels!

And if I happen to cycle passed you and greet you, don’t be alarmed. I’m a runner by heart.