Brandcation or Bust: Training Ride #1

Today’s ride was the first one I did since learning that I had won the opportunity to kill myself ride over the Smoky Mountains in 10 weeks. Since this was a training ride, instead of just a ‘fun ride’, I decided to pick a course that would let me do a series of loops that were exactly half uphill and half downhill. I wanted to gauge exactly where I was with regard to my saddle tolerance (read: how soon will my bum hurt) and whether I was capable of tackling any uphills yet.

Of course to do that, I needed some data. Before I left Tallahassee, I bought a Cateye Strada bike computer. It’s a nifty little device that tells me my current speed (while I’m riding) and can also track how long my current ride is, my average speed during the ride and finally, my top speed (which is never very fast because I am a chicken on downhills). Here are my stats for this ride:

11.05 miles completed.
average of 12.1 miles per hour.

That average speed sounds about right – I was going about 18 mph on the flats and downhills and only about 7 mph on the uphills. My goal is to get to a speed of about 10-12 mph on the uphills since I have about 20 MILES of an upward battle during my ride. I’d rather not be climbing it for more than two hours. It hurts just thinking about it!

But, I’m not discouraged. Want to know why? Well, I remember that (during my marathon training) before I made it to 26.2 miles, I had to make it to 2 miles. I remember feeling like I would never get there. That it would be too hard, too long and too scary to even try. But, the key was to push all thoughts of the end goal out of my head and to focus on small goals instead. I think that’s a good plan here, too.

Other random thoughts:

  • My bum felt surprisingly okay. When I first started riding for any significant distance (about 10 years ago), it was all I could do not to stand for the entire ride. I think I’ll be okay in this regard.
  • What didn’t feel okay was the space between my thumb and pointer finger where the gear shift was digging into my hands. I kept readjusting my grip, but just couldn’t get comfortable.
  • You know what else didn’t feel so great? My neck. That position is really awkward, especially if you’re not used to it. I’m going to have to spend many hours in the saddle to get used to both the neck angle and the hand pain.
  • While I was going super slow uphill, I didn’t feel incredibly winded. I’m in better shape than I feared, but definitely not where I want to be.

Over the next couple of weeks, I’m going to share will you all my favorite cycling gear, my favorite cycling routes (I’ll be bringing my small point and shoot camera with me for rides), tips on proper cycling posture and I’m even going to post a video about how to successfully get in and out of those dreaded clipless pedals! I haven’t forgotten about the charity info I promised you all, so I’ll be sharing that as well as soon as the details are finalized.

Oh, I had one final random thought. I can’t believe I’m actually going to do this. That is all.

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