I had a funny moment as I was handed the bike for a test ride. I swung my leg over and suddenly thought to myself, “Wait, I know how to ride a bike, don’t I?” Cycling is really a right of passage as a child. You finally ditch the training wheels and get the hang of it. I did, and I spent many a summer day as a child touring around the neighborhood on my bike. Yet, this was a different kind of bike. A serious bike. A road racing bike. Was it the same? Was I about to embarrass myself and fall down on my face?
I put my foot to the pedal took off, and the rush of wind was glorious. In just the few days since, I’ve already learned a lot — and these were my first lessons in my journey to becoming a “Runner Posing As A Cyclist.”
You can be a pack mule much more easily.
Having a bike means have a place to put things. When I went to pick up my bike, I also got to pick out a bunch of accessories — water bottle holders, phone holders, you name it! When it comes to running, we have to find really inventive gear to hold all the things we want to bring with us. We need it to be light. We need it to be comfortable. We need it not to chafe. The frame of the bike has some great real estate for carrying around fuel, hydration and anything else you might want to take with without risking tired body or rubbed-raw skin.
This sport comes with a whole new jargon.
Cycling has some of the same lingo as running, but most of it is very different. A bonk is a bonk. Drafting is drafting. Here are some of the new words I’ve learned:
- LSD is not a drug — it’s sort of the equivalent of a long run, standing for Long Steady/Slow Distance.
- Breakaway is not a Kelly Clarkson song — it means to pull ahead of the pack to take the lead.
- Drop is not something clumsy people do — it means to leave another cyclist behind.
Butt pads in your shorts matter…a lot. Trust me.
On my first ride, I wore triathlon shorts — butt was feeling pretty good. (They have more minimal padding so you can wear it while swimming or running…I think.) On my second ride, I wore regular workout shorts. This was a huge mistake. Saddle - 1 Butt - 0. I invested in some true cycling shorts and it made a huge difference on my third ride. It feels like wearing some kind of bizarre and stylish sanitary belt, but your butt will thank you.
Getting passed by a car isn’t as terrifying as much as you might think.
One fear that has been in my mind regarding the bike was having cars pass me on the road. I know when I’m out driving, it feels like I’m still too close and in their space even if I give a cyclist plenty. I was worried about being thrown over by the swoosh of the car passing. I was worried about getting clipped by a side-view mirror. None of these scenarios occurred — even in back to school traffic on Monday morning. It’s not nearly as terrifying as you’d think.
Taking up cycling will not make you feel like less of a runner.
Running has become a part of my identity and I worried that taking up another endurance sport would lessen that. I wondered if I’d like it more (I didn’t want to!) I wondered if I would feel like an outsider. So far, I’m really enjoying it and, in fact, feel more like a runner. Cyclists are welcoming and helpful. It’s fun to be learning new things, but it’s even more exciting to come back to that original rush when it’s a run day instead of a bike day.
I’m now considering my first cycling race event in the fall. Stay tuned for more bike adventures.