Since that first ride home on my Specilized bike from Gears bike shop in Port Credit’21k to my home in Toronto’I’ve clocked about 95k of riding over a couple of weeks. [I know this because I have a nifty little distance and speed guage on my handlebars.] This consisted of a 14k ride from the east end of downtown Toronto to the west the day after I brought my bike home, and that was the scene of my first, but I’m hoping my last, mishap with my pedals.
I mentioned in my first blogpost that I when I ride I am clipped into the pedals of the bike, something that’s new to me. Well, I forgot that for a moment! As I came along a busy street and was forced to the far right due to narrow lanes, I got spooked and decided to simply stop and wait for cars to pass; I was used to riding on bike paths only so far, so was a bit uncomfortable in traffic. I applied the brakes’but forgot that my cycling shoes were still attached to the bike! Which made me simply drop to the right, bike and all. Luckily, I didn’t hit the ground as there was a low rail running along the side of the street that I grabbed on my way down. It gave me time to flip my right heel outwards, thereby unclipping the shoe. My leg was now free to support me. and I pushed myself back upright.
It all happened pretty fast, and I knew it would at some point. A whole lifetime of having your feet on top of bike pedals is pretty hard to undo from your instincts. But, I’m bound to get used to it. And boy does it seem to make a difference to be clipped in. It allows you to use the force of your leg coming upwards behind you after you’ve pushed the pedal forward, if you can follow what I mean. Therefore you get to use different leg muscles besides your quads, the main ones used when you’re only using your energy to push the pedal forward.
I then took my bike’have I said how nice it is, painted white and gold, and SO light at 21 pounds?’to High Park to train on a couple of pretty steep, if somewhat short, hills, that I tended to attack and just be happy I was able to inch my way up the last quarter of the hill. Also, at 6 a.m., the Park is pretty free of traffic except for a couple of other cyclists (men, of course; it usually is men I see on road bikes…not sure why it’s been such a guys’ sport, but it definitely shouldn’t be!). So I’ve used those early laps around the Park to do things like get used to all the gears on the bike’there are 20 on the Dolce model I have’and also do surprisingly difficult things like reaching down to my water bottle and drinking while I ride. It’s a bit of a wobbly business, but practice will make perfect.
I hadn’t anticipated all of these little things that I would have to learn, so thank goodness for Kris Tobias (that’s him in the photo below), one of the two founding brothers of Ride For Karen, which takes place September 9. Kris and Kirk Tobias’ mother, Karen, died 11 years ago of breast cancer. Since both brothers are keen cyclists they decided to organize a charity ride in her name, and it has grown in popularity since then to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to allow kids with cancer to go to camp.
Kris has offered to spend time with me helping me get up to speed (so to speak!) in order to make the 100k finish line. So last Saturday, we went riding together for a couple of hours. And that’s where I got my first lesson in handling hills. Apparently, rushing at them in attack mode is NOT the most effective way! "It’s about using your gears to your best advantage," Kris, a dad of 3, explained. He showed me that I should begin in a gear that felt higher (meaning, easier to pedal) than it should be. That way, I’d conserve muscle power right from the start instead of being in an unnecessarily low (harder to pedal) gear. So we did a pretty big hill, Pottery Road, together, and I geared my way up that thing under his instruction, and made it without a whole lot of trouble’then, enjoyed a large drink out of my water bottle under the shade of a tree!
I know I’ll need to do a few of those before I really master hill skills, but it’s a start. I was feeling pretty good, but did have other things on my mind on the way back home: The weather was getting hotter and hotter by the minute, and I had committed to myself, and my family, that I’d ride all the way to Oakville the very next day. How would my body feel after this 30k ride with Kris that included my first big hill? And could I handle the heat? Plus, I didnt’ realize then I’d have an unexpected challenge. In a couple of days, I’ll let you know in this space how it went. Stay tuned.
If you want to sponsor Bonnie Munday for Ride For Karen, go to www.rideforkaren.com, Click ‘Donate’ and look up her name.
Read all Bonnie’s cycling blogs at besthealthmag.ca/BonnieonaBike