Big wheels keep on turning!

As I mentioned in my last post, I am adding some mountain and road cycling into my training plan. I have been doing some mountain biking on the weekends but just this last Monday I picked up the first road bike I’ve owned since I was 16. I went back to the same place where I purchased Kelly’s road bike and our mountain bikes to get my road bike. But before we get to that lets take a step back to the weeks prior.

Shortly after I decided that alter my stance on being a “one event” kind of guy, Kelly had found that there would be the Fayetteville-Cumberland County Metric Century Ride to raise funds for the Special Olympics. Now the exciting part of this was that the ride was six days after returning from almost a month long trip. The ride would also have a 12 and 30 mile course for those that weren’t ready to brave the 62 mile route. Of course part of me wanted to just go all out but we decided that we would do the 30 mile route instead. Now to start gathering all the things and maybe a little info I would need for this newly added sport in my life

Since I was going to be gone for a little over three  weeks I planned on using as much of that time as possible to prepare what I could. I needed to get a bike, clip-in peddles, shoes, helmet, and some appropriate clothing (lots of spandex). This might seem like a pretty simple task for most but when you’re 6′ 5″ it becomes a bit of a scavenger hunt.

To get the first think on the list I called Hawley’s Bike World in Fayetteville and ordered a Contend 3 by Giant. This is Giants entry level road bike and fit the budget I set aside for the bike. If I ever get to the point that I need more bike I will worry about it then. For now I’ll worry more about the engine powering the bike. Since they had the size I needed in stock I purchased it over the phone so it would be ready for me upon my return. I was also informed that I would get a free fitting when I came in and picked up my bike.

To try and find biking shoes I went to every bicycle or sports store in all three of the cities that I was traveling to and no one had anything close to my size. I wasn’t really surprised since even my running shoes have to be ordered online. You know what they say, big feet…. lots of frustration in finding shoes! Road bike shoes come in European sizes and I guess there aren’t a lot of bikers with size 51 shoes. I was able to find a pair made by Shimano in my size. The other piece of gear that I was a little worried about finding was a jersey. These need to be longer in the torso than a normal shirt and since my torso is a little longer than the average males I was afraid I would be wearing what appeared to be a midriff on my rides. Luckily for me and anyone that might see me cycling, Kelly found a cycling outfitter that sold tall men’s cycling apparel.

I flew back Morning and drove to Hawley’s to pick up my bike and have it fitted. This whole process went a lot quicker than I thought it would go and I also got some riding tips from the gentlemen who did the fitting. I was also able to pick up the rest of the gear I needed while I was there. Now armed with all the equipment I would need I just need to get in a couple training rides before my debut into cycling fame 5 days later.

Kelly and I did two training rides to help me practice riding and helpful little tasks like clipping in and out of your peddles. The first ride was a little over 7 miles long and we tried to find different challenges I would find out on the road. Things like turns, intersections, railroad tracks, and cars all add to the experience of cycling. My second ride was out on the back roads of Fort Bragg where Kelly does some of her training rides. This is also the same area where we would do some of our longer runs. This time we rode five miles out and then back. This ride let me really open it up and also experience a little taste of a cyclists other joy… hills! With two training rides in I was ready for Saturday morning.

Since this was my first cycling event I wasn’t really sure what to expect. We had waited to do same day registration because of some weather we had here locally. This did cause them to have to do a last minute adjustment to the route but nothing that was going to stop the event. The Fayetteville-Cumberland County Parks and Recreation did a great job setting up this event with the help of one of the local bicycle shops. There was quite the mix of different types bikes and riders at this event. This was a fund raiser that was meant to be a fun ride in support of a good cause and was not a timed event. The 30 mile course had one rest stop at the halfway point where some volunteers had water, Gatorade, bagels and some bananas. With this only my third ride and my first ride with this many cyclist I had something new to get used to. I’m not really sure how much of a fan I am of riding in a group. It reminded me of those large formation runs in the Army where it seems no one knows how to set a pace and stick with it. The slinky effect was really bad in the group we had settle in with and I was happy when we parted ways.

We finished the ride in under two hours and I remember thinking that part of me wished we had chose the longer course to ride. I am sure I would have regretted that at some point prior to mile 62 so it was probably good we went with the 30 mile course. I really was glad we did the 30 mile course the next day when I did my long training run for the half marathon I signed up for. I didn’t really feel that sore from the ride but I remember as I was gutting out the 7 mile run that my legs just felt really, really tired and heavy. I guess this will be something I will have to let me body get used to as I start to incorporate more riding into my training plan. But since it is all about the miles, this last week I was able to log over 70 miles including both my riding and running!