Photo from Mount Royal, Frisco, Colorado.

"That is happiness; to be disolved into something complete and great. When it comes to one, it comes as naturally as sleep." - Willa Cather

Monday, 16 August 2010

Rishøjløbet 2010: A runner's first bike race

I am not a cyclist. I am a runner. That is what I might have said a couple of days ago.

I have started to get into cycling for a number of reasons (whether or not you care).

1. Aquathons are rare. When one loves to run and swim, triathlons are really the best best competition modality. And one can't be even a decent triathlete without biking well.
2. My husband (yes, that's SR) loves to cycle. I remember the first time I saw him all dolled up in his cycle clothes and, though I thought he was a Fred, I admired his enthusiasm for life. I am at the point now where I love him in his cycle clothing so much that almost wished he shaved his legs to go along with the look.
3. It is really the best way to get from here to there. Much more of an experience than motoric transport and faster than running. (Okay, if I could fly like PPC's hubby, I might prefer that).
4. I bike The Lorax to day care every day and it is in both of our best interests that I am good at it.

Despite my reasons for wanting to bike, my expectations for yesterday's race were quite low. I don't think I am a good cyclist. I have little experience in drafting and knew if I didn't draft it would be a long, painful race.

We arrived with plenty of time and chatted with a bunch of hematologists.
Below are the hematologists getting out of their cars. Ølsemagle clubhouse in the background (one might pronounce Ølsemagle - Ehwlsehmahwleh, if one had English as a first language)

The race start - me already dawdling, getting my shoes in my straps (I'm the pink girl to the right, if there was any doubt)

What was my gear (head to toe)? helmet, my tri jersey (I don't own bike shorts with padding, so I had to wear this) with SR's pink bike jesey over it (yes, he bought and owns a pink bike jersey - and he is all mine!), my camelbak hydration pack (trust me, I was the only one with something like this), power bar and candy bar in my jersey pockets, extra tire, plastic things for removing inner tube, mobile phone, new sunglasses (which I didn't wear), cycling gloves, my new BIOM running shoes (haven't tried click-in pedals yet).

So there was a confusing start where they said numbers 1-50 should start first (that was us), but nearly all 247 started at once, with a few people staying behind, looking confused. A fast peleton (á la Tour de France) took off with SR at the very back, looking backwards, perhaps concerned for my life. I had no idea what to expect since I had no interest in riding with the super fast men.

Here was one of the lead groups out on the course.

After a few km, I fell in behind 4 men with matching jerseys (white with a rainbow stripe). We were riding at an average of 3:15 miles/min. I felt comfortable and drafted off of them, but then found I could also switch with them taking the lead. I had never ridden so fast for so long and it was great fun! Unfortunately, after about 25km we got lost and had to get out maps and devise a plan. We found our way back on route eventually and it is hard to estimate how much time we lost. I think we added 2-3 km.

Anyway, I stayed with one of those guys and a few other guys and a woman until about 40km when all of them but one broke off since they were doing the shorter 63km route. Huh. The one guy and I looked at each other and laughed "Well, hello there". He turned out to be a very nice guy who switched off leading and drafting with me, though he led most of the time. He had two quotes that stuck with me. "Du cycler sgu da flot": "You bike fucking beautifully" and "Bramser ikke for fanden!": "Break not for the devil!". I could not believe how fast we continued to ride. I had kept up the 3:15 min/mile pace through a good 60km when things really fell apart for me. It started when we caught up to a group of riders and one of them said to me the metal fast release on my back wheel was loose. I got off to fix it and then couldn't catch up with the group again. I finally did when one of them got a flat. I waited, needing a rest and wanting to stay in a group. Once they started riding again, they dropped me quickly and I was like, hmmm, glad I waited to ride with them.

So the rest of the race was spent alone. And my legs were shaking and burning. I had trouble keeping up a good speed. And then with 5km left to go, I realized my bike was making a heck of a lot of noise and not much forward motion. It was my breaks. The chance that I could actually fix something on my bike was as slim as Ilsa. But I remembered how SR had loosened my breaks and that is what I did in the front and the back and gosh darn it, it worked, and I was riding smoothy in no time! I felt like a very sexy woman at that moment.

Suddenly I realized I was coming to the finish and was happy with my time despite getting lost and all the stops: 3:32 for 87km, though more like 89-90 km. And I wasn't last! Actually, it was really hard to determine placement. There was no result list.

I came through the finish sweating like a knock-kneed mule and soaked everywhere. I had actually sweated the entire time, at times so much that I couldn't see where I was going. This cycling stuff can be hard work with hills and turns and wind and playing catch-up with groups. I felt as though I had run a marathon and the time riding was certainly comparable.

I finally found SR, who was sitting with his hematolgists.

He is the guy with the thick head of hair to the far right (but seriously, doesn't he look good in a bike jersey?).

SR had told his friends it would be well over 4 hours by the time I arrived, if I arrived at all, so they were all at least mildly impressed. SR had also gotten lost, though much worse than me. He got so far off course that they came back on course way ahead of the leaders and ended up coming in first, having to explain they didn't actually win. I am bummed out for SR since I know he could have actually held on to the fast peleton the whole way had he not gotten behind at a critical point and then gotten lost almost immediately after that. But he always has a good attitude and didn't act disappointed.

I was shocked how much fun I had. Definitely more fun than many running races I have been to. But a race without pressure is almost always enjoyable. I am feeling more and more ready for an Ironman next year. Heck and maybe even another bike race in the nearer future. I almost feel I need to be apologetic to all of the runners who read my blog. I am sorry... I've been unfaithful and I don't regret it.


olga said...

Apology accepted. i've been incredibly unfaightful as well, and don't even pretend to be sorry:) Good ride, hope your, hmm, parts survived the seat without bike shorts!

cherelli said...

Hey - great bike race! i love how you get out there and "just do it"...I've yet to tackle a bike race. For sure once you get the pacing down for the distance you'll be fine for the IM...I don't feel you are being unfaithful to running - especially when cross-training is only going to be good for extending your running career :)

sea legs girl said...

Thanks to both of you. I didn't know if anyone would actually read let alone comment on a race report. You guys are the best!

mmmonyka said...

Sounds like fun!

mmmonyka said...

It takes guts to enter a cycling race when you are a runner (or any other race when you do a different sport). You are awesome.

Btw, I wore running shorts on my 66 miles bike ride last week...I guess it makes me not a Fred:)

I love fast biking in a group. I have never done a race but when I was younger (15-18) I used to participate in a 50 mile bike ride organized by a town I used to live in and IT WAS FUN. My dad never wanted to come so it was always me on my hybrid bike and a bus full of guys in their 35-40s (you know those types who spend half of their salaries on improving their already perfect road bikes and go for a 50mile ride for fun after work. Such types live probably only in Europe:)). Since I was usually one of the youngest and I was a girl and I was in a pretty good shape being a runner so I managed to keep up with them (well, not with the fastest ones of course), I was treated like the princess:) Oh, good old days...

sea legs girl said...

Ooops. Have to edit my comment above. I meant BIKE race report. I guess I do usually get comments on regular running race reports.

Mmmmonyka. It is a fun culture to dabble in as a woman. And yeah, those kind of perfect road bike guys are everywhere here! There were a few guys like that in La Crosse, WI, too, but it is just way more prevalent in Europe (at least Denmark).

江仁趙雲虹昆 said...
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Diana said...

I will do my best not to feel betrayed...just kidding. Good for you for entering a bike race. I'm glad you had fun, and without clips or those crazy, padded shorts!

sea legs girl said...

Stop the madness, ladies! Olga, Diana, the reason I wore the tri suit was because they have built-in bike shorts with padding :). The parts survived painlessly.

mmmonyka said...

Yeah, com'n, clips and padded shorts are highly overrated. (Do I say that because I do not own them...?) Couple years ago nobody except from real cyclists wore them and everybody was ok.