Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Putting in the Miles-- The Dreaded First Long Ride

Everyone remembers their first. My first long bike ride was about 7 years ago when I attempted to cycle around the Bodensee, a lovely lake that is nestled between Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. It ended a bit earlier than I anticipated with a very sore bum and a burning desire for padded shorts.

Fast forward 7 years later....

I really wanted to do the Sunday Ride with DirtyWknd, a local cycle club that has weekend rides ranging from beginners to expert. However I had work and other obligations so it had to be Saturday morning. Same destination, G!ro cafe just inside the Surrey border in Esher.

Hello Battersea Park!

I set off with some reservations about somehow getting hopelessly lost (I packed a charger for my iPhone just in case). I was pretty fine until getting over Putney bridge. The CycleSuper Highway between Tower Bridge and Battersea Bridge is just wonderful. I love the segregated bit along the Embankment, it really helps you feel at ease amongst the buses shuttling tourists to and fro.

MMMMMM.... green grass and blue sky :D
My GPS told me to take the A3 which straddles Wimbledon Common and Richmond Park. I didn't really enjoy that bit. You are careening down the pavement whilst cars whizz by you. I had visions of a tyre popping and me flying over the handlebars into a sign or worse a car. Speed demon I am not on two wheels. My mom is breathing a sigh of relief.

I was very happy to turn into Richmond Park. No cars! So much lycra! No deer observed! Green space! The rest of the trip was very pleasant, with the only hairy bit coming at the Scilly Isle Roundabout. I need to remind myself that it takes me much longer to accelerate than a car. Don't worry, the car reminded me with an very pleasant and polite (of course) honk. >.<

I arrived at G!ro and was beyond pumped. I did my first (well not really) long bike ride! I didn't get (too) lost and have all my limbs intact. I had a well earned coffee and avocado on toast. There were cyclists everywhere (its a cycle shop as well as a coffee shop, they do their own rides from there as well!). I let my phone charge up a bit and got back on the saddle.

So the return route had nothing too big of note except that hills (or long steady inclines as I am sure people argue London has no hills) were terrible on tired legs. I had two bigun's: Kingston Hill (A308) and then the A3 (yeah if going down wasn't fun, going up surely is more fun than a barrel of monkeys). I was so happy to cross Putney Bridge and get back on the lovely, flat, CycleSuperHighway.

This was a big confidence booster for me. An olympic ride is 40km. I did about 60km. I did hills on tired legs. Maybe 'did' is a strong word. I didn't WALK the hills. I now feel confident that I could do a group ride during the week without getting too left behind.

So if you are hesitant about cycling, please find a local group near you and sign up for a ride. Or find a cafe/park about 10-15 miles away from you and head there. Check for quieter routes, cycle routes, etc. if you are not confident on the roads.  Get there. Rest. Relax. Have a sandwich at a cafe. Head back. Take your time, and don't be put off by the other lycra on the journey. You do you.

And yes, my bum felt fine. So I learned my lesson from the last time.