This morning I hooked up with the Louisville Bike Club for their 9 am ride. The option was to do 17 or 35, and of course I opted for the 17.
I ended up riding 30 miles.
Let's start at the beginning: So I pull into the meeting spot on River Road and I see exactly what I expect to see: lots of men in their 40s, 50s, and 60s, and they are all wearing fancy jerseys, padded bike shorts, sleek helmets, the works. What am I wearing? My compression running shorts (no padding in the butt), a pink Piggly Wiggly shirt, and a scared expression. A gentleman came up to me and introduced himself, knowing that I was a newbie. I was actually so nervous that I started crying. I wasn't sobbing, but I couldn't stop tears from running down my cheeks.
A few folks came up and met me and they made sure I met the race captain, George. The GREAT thing about all of these rides is that there is a race captain who always brings up the back, meaning that no one gets left behind. Another woman, Valerie, wasn't looking for a hardcore ride either so the three of us took off together. We rode into downtown Louisville (sorry Mom) and way into the West End and to Shawnee Park. First of all, let me state that I really don't go past 10th street. The West End doesn't have a great reputation. Where we were...it was about 38th street. However, the traffic was really light, and then we hit a road called Northwestern Parkway which I had no idea existed. This street was a hidden jem! We took this to Shawnee Park and around the park and I couldn't believe I was still in Louisville. I seriously felt like I was in a different city.
We hooked up with two other riders who said they were beginners (but they definitely looked the part) and we rode all the way to Iroquois Park which is in the South End. Eventually we made it back to the meeting spot and I thankfully hopped off my bike.
Overall? I am SO GLAD I did that ride. Riding with other cyclists is such a great way to learn and to meet people too. About mile 18 I was really ready to get home because my knees were feeling funky and I was absolutely starving. However, once we were a few miles away from our cars I perked up and felt thankful that I had these people to ride with.
Right now, I'm stretched out in my bed, and my arms are sunburned and I have a nice farmer's tan...whoops. I'm definitely tired despite taking a pretty intense nap after my ride.
1. Buy clips (shoes and pedals). Believe it or not, most cyclists clip themselves into their bikes. Kind of sounds scary, doesn't it? The shoes kind of look like cleats, and there is a mechanism on the bottom that locks into a special pedal. If you are coming up to a stop sign or stop light you just tweak your ankle and you pop out of the clip. Another very important feature of the clip is that it helps you go faster. If you are pedaling NOT clipped in and wearing tennis shoes (which is what I did) you only move one foot at a time. The foot that pushes down is what moves the bike while the other hangs out until you rotate around. With the clips, both feet work all the time. I may not have explained that well so you'll just have to see it to believe it.
2. Buy gloves. I didn't think they were necessary before...now I know they are.
Cycling is not a cheap hobby.