I took my first ride on a road bike on July 2nd, which was exactly seven weeks ago. I was rather wobbly, unsteady, and hesitant (you can read about that whole experience here).
Since then, I have gotten so much more comfortable with and on my road bike. My tush doesn’t hurt anymore thanks to the Brooks England seat (aka saddle) that my hubby was no longer using, and to my padded cycling shorts that I wear on my long rides (which are very awkward and uncomfortable everywhere else except for on the bike). I’ve gone on several rides on side roads and on trails to practice starting / stopping, and shifting through the gears.
Today we went for a long Sunday ride, and it was my first time riding on a main road, Shore Drive in Virginia Beach. Thankfully there is a designated bike lane on the road, but there were still lots of cars. That were driving very fast. Right next to us. Eeeek!
I was definitely anxious before and during, and tried not to think about what could go wrong. On a positive note, that particular road has a nice long stretch with no streetlights, which gave me the chance to kick it up a notch. Our max speed was 19.5 mph, which is the fastest I’ve ever gone. Thankfully, my terror of the cars didn’t take away the joy of the ride.
When we reached the entrance to First Landing State Park, we turned in and stopped at the welcome center to drink water and let my hands rest (they still go numb, but not as severely). We then rode down the main trail, which definitely felt like off-roading after Shore Drive. But I am getting so much more comfortable with the gravel, sand, tree roots, and mud. On my first trail ride a few weeks ago, I gripped the bike and crept slowly along, with “don’t fall, don’t fall, don’t fall” as my mantra. Today the trail was muddier and sandier than I’d ever seen it, and I actually had fun swerving around and sliding a bit, and I didn’t need my mantra. I’m getting more confident with standing up and letting the bike do what it needs to on the bumps and slides, and then pushing through again. I am certainly no daredevil, but I am also not as timid as I had been.
At the end of the trail, we turned down the road toward the Narrows, and took that out to the water and back. We caught a glimpse of a bald eagle perched high on a treetop, and were greeted by several butterflies. On the way back, as I shifted into the bigger front gear to get more push, I felt the wind on my face and the sun on my shoulders, and I smiled.