That accident in Lansing happened before I started riding in clip-in pedals. If you’re really serious about triathlon, you HAVE TO ride with clip-in pedals eventually. So, I got some pedals, I got some shoes and I clipped in. The first several months I rode with clip-ins, you could routinely see me at corners just falling straight over onto my side, like a domino. Some days were better than others but I never quite got the hang of those clip-ins. And eventually I became too scared to really ride with them so I stopped riding completely – so much for being serious about triathlon!
My first ride out last year, I had a great time. I went about 15 miles or so. It was a gorgeous day and I sailed along the Betsie River Trail with ease and confidence. I was so looking forward to an entire summer of kicking ass on my tri-bike. Then… right before I pulled in my driveway, I hit some sand and turned abruptly, I fell so quick onto the concrete that I didn’t even have time to process what was happening and THIS time, I hit my head first and hard. So hard, in fact, that my helmet cracked right open. Ouch.
Luckily, I have a good friend who used to be an amateur MMA cage-fighter. We talked at length about how to handle a concussion and warning signs that mean I should seek medical attention immediately. I never needed medical attention but damn! I definitely dealt with the consequences of some level of concussion for at least a solid month.
A couple weeks after my undiagnosed concussion started to feel better, I bought an old used cruiser for 50 bucks. It squeaked and whistled when I rode it and maxed out at about five miles per hour but it felt so good to sit straight up for a change and I wasn’t afraid to ride it. I named that old cruiser, Babe, and fell deeply in love.
Unfortunately, I REALLY wanted to keep doing triathlons. All winter I joked that I was going to do every triathlon this summer on Babe. Well, at first I was joking and then I was serious. I mean, sure… I would definitely be The Last Triathlete, but who cares? I could still finish within the cut-off time and I would have fun doing it!
So, a couple weeks ago, I took Babe in to be spiffed up and I made a plan to sell my road bikes through the shop that did the work. Just yesterday, I dropped off my Tri-bike and walked out the door.
Then, as you might know (if you read yesterday’s post) I picked up the July issue of Triathlete magazine that I’ve been anxiously awaiting for several months and the guilt, remorse and horror of what I had done kicked in HARD. WHAT HAVE I DONE??? How could I just let her go like that without a second thought? How could I give up on my triathlon dreams?
Listen:. I will never be a good triathlete. I will never be a fast triathlete. But, dammit, I LOVE that sport. I LOVE it! And I don’t love any other sport in all the vast choices of sports in this world. I just LOVE triathlon. And while it is TOTALLY true that I could complete a super-sprint or a sprint-distance tri and MAYBE even an Olympic distance on Babe, there is NO WAY I could go any farther. And, the truth is, when I turned 40, I promised myself that by the time I was 50, I would complete an ironman-distance.
Dudes – I know you’re out there laughing your asses off at me, saying, “Girrrrrrlll, how in the HELL do you think YOU are going to complete an Ironman?” Well, friends, I have no clue just yet but I’ll tell you this: when I first saw how much I would have to do in a sprint-distance triathlon, I thought NO FUCKING WAY! How can ANYONE move like that for that long. 500 meter swim (which is actually short for a sprint-distance), 12 mile bike and then a 3.1 mile run? What? That sounded like an endless amount of miles to me – like an impossible amount of miles. And then I did it – a lot. So, then, I started training for an Olympic-distance which is double all of those lengths: 1000 meter swim, 24 mile bike, 6.2 mile run. I couldn’t just do this again tomorrow without training and I definitely came in last last last BUT… I DID IT! And that mileage doesn’t seem crazy at all to me anymore. When I had gotten through several sprint-distance tris, I started to think, “hmmmm…. That Olympic distance doesn’t seem TOOOOO impossible.” And as soon as I did the Olympic, I thought, “hmmmmm…. That half-ironman-distance doesn’t seem TOOOOO impossible.” And even though RIGHT NOW it seems a little more impossible than it did right after I finished that Olympic-distance tri, I know that when I really start training again, I can get it back into the realm of possibility in my mind.
And if completing a half iron or a full ironman isn’t unapologetically weird as all hell, I do not know what is. (Oh, wait! Yes, I do! Swimming in a mermaid tail! Bahahahaha)
But how can I train with no tri-bike? I adore Babe. I wish all my rides could always be on Babe. But, I have to accept that, at some point, I’m going to need a little bit of speed. Babe likes to watch the scenery as we ride by. Pinky Tuscadero (that’s my Tri-Bike’s name) ain’t got no time for any of that nonsense.
So… duh! I don’t know why I didn’t think of this before but rather than shun riding a tri-bike completely, I’m going to shun the notion that serious triathletes HAVE TO ride in clip-ins. Not me baby. I’m going back to my cages and I’m going to be happy as a clam about it. That is, I’m going back to my cages tomorrow morning at 10am when the bike shop opens and I can tell them I simply cannot sell my sweet little Pinky Tuscadero.
It’s funny, I’ve been thinking over this past year that my bikes are like a little family. And giving Pinky Tuscadero away and knowing she’s not here tonight – it definitely feels awkward – like when my daughter goes over to someone else’s house for a sleepover. I just keep constantly thinking, somewhere in my mind, “I hope she’s alright!” But Pinky Tuscadero’s a bike! I mean, you get how weird THAT is, right?
Don’t give your little dreams away, Teamies – even if they seem hella ridiculous to the rest of the world! And even if they scare the absolute crap out of you!
& please keep your fingers crossed that I can get Pinky Tuscadero back without a hitch!