A Few Lessons Learned While Riding My Bike | The Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans LLC


I was inspired by a posting over at FatCyclist entitled “What I Learned From Riding My Bike” and thought it would make a great topic to start a lessons learned meme. I personally think it’s an important part of everything we do in life to take some time to look back at what we’ve learned and how we might improve going forward. Sometimes those things can be enlightening and sometimes they might simply just crack us up.

So lets fully embrace this meme and list out the items covered on Fatty’s site (that’s what they call him, I’m not being mean) filling in our blanks.

  • Our first flat miles from home — This is the only weird one in the list but I think the thought here is that all of us have a typical path we take starting or ending a long ride. There is likely a portion of this path where we start getting into the zone that we’re riding and begin to enter that zen like state of peace and fluid motion with the bike.

    For me this starts about 5 miles from home after all of the twisting and turning through the neighborhoods. Gone are the stop signs, the traffic lights, the small hills, and the traffic. It’s all replaced with a double lane road, each way, that’s nearly perfectly flat. I begin to pedal with a steady cadence without having to worry about stopping or interruptions. My breathing beings to become rhythmic and my thoughts focus first on form … steady, consistent, force throughout the circle … and from there I relax and my mind wanders.

    On my bike I’ve learned to love the consistency of an endurance event like cycling & running. I’ve learned to get into a rhythm and a state of zen and then let my body take over while my mind goes elsewhere.

  • Our first time getting dropped on the group ride — This hadn’t happened until early this season. Most of the group rides I’m on are no drop and the pace is well within my limits. This ride though was a ride that had three different tiers of riders … the rockets, the average joes, and the pokey petes. At the start I was certain I wasn’t going to be “average”, I mean who wants to be average am I right?

    So the ride started slowly with all three tiers together and then about 5 miles out they turn up the gas. I start in the middle of the rocket pack upping my cadence and holding my own just fine. I can feel my heart rate slowly rising but well within control … and then they hit a hill.

    I’m a decent climber but I churn a big gear. These guys though, they were continuing their crazy cadence and just flew up the hills. Needless to say the men and the boys were separated and within a mile I joined the average joes and finished the rest of the ride … I’ll get them next season though. Humility was the lesson of the day here 😉

  • Our first sufferfest – when we realize this cycling can actually be painful — This was my first century ride last fall with the innocuous name The Pumpkin Pie Century. I mean who does’t like free pumpkin pie right?

    Anyhow, about 70 miles into the 100 I was feeling good and entering the final leg returning to the start. This leg ended up being almost all headwind and as flat as a pancake which seemed to multiply said headwind. About 5 miles into the remaining 30 I was fried, my legs were lead weights and I swear I was only moving along at like 10 mph but giving it 110% effort. I had 25 miles left on this “pleasure ride” and no idea how I would make it.

    It was at this point that I realized both the true meaning of pain and of my strength. I could have given up at any point and waited around for a sag wagon but I didn’t. I could have dropped down to a tootling pace and made it back in a few more hours but I didn’t. Instead I dug deep and found a whole ‘nother later of energy, drive, and willpower I never knew I had.

  • Our first encounter with a nasty motorist — This one was a highly frustrating moment I wrote about last year on my blog. It involved a car nearly killing me flying through a stop sign, flicking me off, and then telling me to “Keep peddling tubby”

    This lesson really made me question if I had come as far as I thought I had. While it wasn’t the bike itself, it was the event that transpired while on the bike that really made me question my journey, myself, and my resolve.

  • Our first crash. Yes, folks, it will happen — This one was a nice public display of poor balance and humiliation. I was mounting on my bike getting ready to tackle the return trip home during a club ride. It was my first club ride using my clipless pedals on my new bike. I rode across the street and the light promptly changed red. It was an uphill intersection so I went to quickly unclip only to fail miserably. Down I went landing on my ars in front of a busy intersection of cars, pedestrians crossing the street, and my entire bike club.

    Needless to say I was a bit embarrassed but I learned to pick up the pieces and suck it up. While no one openly laughed at me my mind foolishly convinced me that they were.

  • Our first time being chased by a dog — Now this was a truly scary moment on that same friendly Pumpkin Pie ride I mentioned earlier. We were riding the 3rd leg of the century on the return potion of the loop and looking forward to the food at the rest point. I was riding with a club member and we were chatting back and forth. Off in the distance we see a normal looking farmhouse with a dog out front.

    As we approach the house the dog (a german shepherd I believe) begins to run toward us along the nice safe looking white picket fence barking the whole way. As we pass by the house the dog continues to bark loudly sprinting along the fence. Reaching the driveway our jaw drops as we see the fence end and the dog lurches out into the road directly at us.

    It was at this point that I found a gear I never knew I had and my inner Cavendish leap forward. I quickly went from 16 mph to over 25 and the dog was still there. I felt bad because my club mate started to fade but fortunately the dog did as well and we managed to clear the dog unscathed. My heart was racing for the next 10 miles until we stopped at the rest point.

Those are a few my lessons learned while cycling, how about a few of yours?