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Per usual, I was up at 4:30 a.m. this morning. On my long cycling days, I will normally try to hit the streets at daybreak so I can roll through some good mileage before traffic picks up on the streets. (Here are some tips for cycling in traffic.)
I’m a creature of habit and I wake up every morning at 4:30 without an alarm clock. My routine is to brew a pot of coffee, check my emails, get all geared up, and out the door at 5:30 a.m.
I do some things the night before to make it easier on me in the morning — like fill up my water bottle and Cytomax bottle so they are ready to go in the fridge.
Today’s ride is a little different; it’s a “Rick ride.”
Rick is a good friend of mine who lives nearby, and the one who got me into biking. He once was a competitive cyclist, and even though he doesn’t race much anymore I wouldn’t bet against him if he showed up tomorrow at a local Criterium race and decided to enter.
A “Rick ride” means an intensity ride — a hard and hilly ride. I’ve done Century rides that were easier than rolling 40 miles with Rick. That’s why you need a Rick — someone who will help you by pushing you.
I feel very fortunate that I’m able to do some of my bike training with someone who is a much stronger cyclist than I am. I feel a similar way about my Masters Swim class. For most people in that class, swimming is their main deal, and it helps push me to be the best swimmer I can be as a triathlete.
I made 3 colossal mistakes biking with Rick today.
#1 I had a flat tire yesterday, and forgot to go by the bike shop to pick up another spare tube.
I rationalized it with the thought of how unlikely it would be to have another flat the next day. I did.
So, make sure you always have a spare. If I hadn’t been with Rick, I would have been in trouble. Walking 10 miles in cycling shoes isn’t fun. Also, I suggest you take your cell phone on your rides, especially if you are riding by yourself.
#2 The second mistake I made was biking too far off the road on a wide shoulder.
If you get too far over, you run the risk of rolling over all kinds of debris on the side of the road. I ran over some glass, which put a gash in my tire and punctured the tube. As a side point, make sure you understand the rules of the road as a cyclist.
Here’s a short video that covers the basics.
Rick always rides with a dollar bill in his saddle bag in case this happens. You fold up the dollar bill and put it inside the tire where the gash is, so the new tube won’t push through. It worked.
If you have a wide shoulder on a long stretch even if it’s not a bike lane, it is okay to ride there, but don’t wander too far over; stick about a foot outside the white line into the shoulder. Remember, when the shoulder ends you’ll have to get back onto the road — a foot inside the white line.
#3 During today’s ride we were also greeted by one of those motorists who feel that cyclists should be locked away in prison. He laid on his horn for quite a while, and then yelled creative combinations of expletives as he drove by. Here comes’ my third colossal mistake!
Surprisingly, Rick was not fazed, and just ignored it. Me, I felt the need to offer a little sign language. I’ll be honest, in the heat of the moment when this sort of thing happens I’m inclined to give it right back to them. This is a very bad idea because they have the car! If the person is drunk or having a road rage issue, you don’t want to give the person reason to intentionally run you off the road.
I guarantee you, it happens! Just bite your lip, shut up, and keep pedaling. If you are truly concerned that a motorist’s intention is to bring you harm, then slow down or turn off to end the issue. You might consider reporting the incident.
Finally, I would be remiss not to instruct you to be an alert rider and take every normal precaution as a cyclist on the road.
I want to end this post by remembering all the cyclists we’ve lost along the way — mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, loved ones and friends. The Ride of Silence is a reminder that cycling also has its risks. Maybe you will especially feel that if you follow along on this Ride of Silence.
I’m over 40 years old, but I don’t give up easily. It wasn’t too long ago that I was exploring the idea of doing my first triathlon. If I can do it, you can too! I'm proof that with a little determination and training, you can get a great deal of fulfillment participating in marathons, triathlons… even ultramarathons.