Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Juan and the Engine

Today I put new tires on Juan—Juan Tequilo—my Quintana Roo Tri-bike. I have spent a lot of time with Juan this year. As of today, 92hrs 25m 44s for 1587.43 miles. Beginning Cycling at first was really nerve wracking. What? It’s just riding a bike, how hard could it be? Nope, this is not the Huffy I had as a kid, and the difference just wasn’t the price-tag!! Juan has different geometry, what felt like “skinny tires” initially, aero bars, multiple gears, and the fact that it is a very light in weight bike due to aluminum and carbon fiber technology. The goal of a tri-bike is to be fast and aerodynamic and set the rider up to attack the run portion of a triathlon after the bike. Granted, a bike is only as good as its engine, i.e. the rider, the cyclists. So, when I first started cycling on a bike that was probably 1/8th the weight of the bike I rode as a kid (and I have in my garage) it was a little scary because I had NEVER gone that fast on the bike. Oh, did I mention I was CLIPPED into my bike?!? Ironically, the pedals on road and tri-bikes are called “clipless pedals” but really they allow you to clip your cycling shoes directly into the pedals. This allows the cyclist to have a more optimized pedal stroke because the rider can apply force for both the up-stroke and the down-stroke. BUT, that means when you have to stop at a stop sign or for whatever other reason, you must un-clip your shoes. I have never fallen over moving on the bike (yet), but I have at 0mph. It’s pretty humbling…especially at an intersection. So, going fast, clipped into my bike, traffic around me…it was pretty nerve wracking back in Dec ’07. I couldn’t get into the aero position very often, and especially not going down or uphill. I couldn’t grab my water bottles, in fact, I couldn’t really let go of the handlebars without wobbling everywhere. From about Dec-Mar I struggled with enjoying the bike. I didn’t hate it, but I surely didn’t love it. Wind kicked my butt. Hills kicked my butt. I wasn’t contemplating quitting, but I definitely was struggling with the thought of long distances if I didn’t “love” biking. Then I raced the Lonestar ¼ Iron triathlon at the end of March and got to ride fast on the flats and so many different skills finally clicked and that was it. I finished that race 4th in my AG with a near 20mph average for 28 miles and that was what I needed. I loved riding that day, and I have loved it since. I went and rode some bike rallies and did some metric century rides (62miles/100k), I spent several more hours on the trainer when I couldn’t ride outdoors, found a local bike club that I ride with some, and just overall have completely enjoyed riding. While I am still not a huge fan of hills (I came to really like them running, so maybe eventually), and the wind isn’t fun, I don’t fear them like I did at the beginning. I have no problems grabbing my bottle now and I bought an aero bottle for the front of my bike that makes hydrating MUCH easier. I can refill it on the fly. I’ve got a flexible box on the front of the bike that I can keep my gels, keys, and whatever else I need. I have done a 62 mile ride without stopping. I have a changed a couple of flats (thankfully not on the road). And I completely look forward to spending many more hours on the road with Juan. I have a couple of short biking sessions before Buffalo Springs. Tomorrow I'll see how the new tires feel--they are Michelin 2 Pro Racers, and then he and I will tackle the canyons east of Lubbock come Sunday! Thankfully, 56 miles isn't intimidating anymore. I look forward to some 65-80 milers later this season to build up my strength for Longhorn 70.3 in October. But, first I have a Buffalo wrestling date...then I'll start working on roping the Longhorn. Juan's Engine is excited about our future!

1 comment:

ShirleyPerly said...

Hey Brittany, Added you to the reserved seating area of the Bar. You know, I could have written this very post myself a year or so ago. Have you tried one of the Profile Design Aero bottles that go between your aero bars? It's the only way I am able to get fluids into myself while riding my bike. Very easy to drink while staying in aero too.

Good luck at Buffalo Springs this weekend.