September 2, 2010

The Back Door to Success

Isn't it funny how sometimes disappointments end up leading us down the road that we really wanted to go all along? Not ha-ha funny, but you know, curious, unexpected, close to being delighted but not quite. Sort of a satisfied, I-really-did-end-up-getting-what-I-wanted sort of funny.

So, I heard about the 30 Days of Biking challenge on the 31st of August, the day before this challenge was to begin, and I immediately wanted to do it. I checked out the link to make sure it wasn't some crazy thing like biking 100 miles all up hill, and when I learned that all it involved was committing to biking every day in September, I signed up. How hard could it be?

The rules state that these daily bike rides can be long, short, alone, with others, an all day affair or even just a trip around the block. The point is to just get out there and be active. And, I've been all about that lately, ever since getting this crazy little electronic thing I wear on my arm that reminds me "I'm watching, get moving!".

Last night was the kick off ride, a community event, which started at Gold Medal Park in Minneapolis and ended along St. Anthony Main...about a 10 mile trek. I've never participated in anything like this before, and really, have only been biking as a form of exercise for a couple of months, so I was kind of nervous about it.

What's to be nervous about, you ask? Well, hills. I don't do so well yet on hills. I'm still carting around a lot of extra weight, which makes hills hillier, if you get my drift. Imagine a normal weight person, relatively fit, riding up a hill...they make it just fine. Now imagine the same person strapped with a 100# weight on their back going up the same hill. Would they make it up?

I don't know if they would or not, but last night's ride ended in me feeling like a failure . . . for awhile at least. I went with a girlfriend of mine, and we started out toward the front of the pack. It was good. It was a gorgeous night, about 75 degrees, blue skies, low humidity. But the riders, about 50 I'd say, we were all sort of clumped together and so it was impossible to get up any sort of momentum to handle the early hills. And, when you're carrying a 100# weight on your back, momentum is really important. Really important.

Add to that the fact that my bike felt heavy and slow...turns out my rear brakes were dragging along the wheel, and my seat kept moving around. Now, Beauty (what do you think of the name? it just sort of evolved, hehe) is not the fastest bike on the road and I knew that, but seriously, she isn't that slow and neither am I. We are really a perfect match because we aren't slow and we aren't fast, we just don't think about it much. It's not really the point, after all. We get each other.

Long story short, my friend and I lost the crowd after only a couple of miles. I was so bummed. Humiliated. I'm not a crier in those situations, I just want to disappear. Thankfully, my friend was so upbeat, totally supportive, and she waited for me, we went at my pace which now I understand might still not be SLOW but its slower than I thought.

Instead of wandering around the city trying to find the group along a prescribed route that neither one of us could remember, we decided to take a ride along the river. It was GREAT! I managed to get my seat tightened and a really nice biker stopped to help me with the brakes. We rode for about an hour, up and down the hills along the Mississippi and at one point we were even up to about 25 mph! Totally fun and wonderful exercise.

We ended the night at a cute little sidewalk cafe, nibbling on a healthy appetizer and enjoying the breezy evening. The point of the evening WAS to participate in the kick off ride, partner up with some other cool people, be a part of the gang. But, it ended up being a really nice time with just my friend and me, riding along the river in what was still a challenging course.

Now, I could stay bummed that we lost the crowd or that I had to walk my bike up a hill, you know, call the whole thing one big #fail. But, you know what? Keeping up isn't the point. It'd be nice if I could, but the point is to get healthy, more fit and to have fun doing it.

Some might call my adventure a fail, but I'm calling it the back door to my success. Success in that I rode my bike on the first day of September, success in that I had a challenging ride, success in that I was with a good friend, success in that I learned something about myself and my fitness level. There's so much more to celebrate than there is to feel bad about.

What do you guys do when you don't measure up to your own expectations? Would you let your inexperience keep you from trying something beyond your ability (I've done that MANY times), or would you throw caution to the wind and just give it a whirl?

Riding still,


  1. great job with the biking! It is a success and you will get better and better every time! I always throw caution to the wind and give it a whirl! I figure it cant hurt and you only live once :)

  2. I agree with Fit B! It doesn't matter that you didn't do the race exactly as you planned. What matters is that you kept biking and had a wonderful day. Baby steps. Just take baby steps!

  3. Great post, Cheryl! You're so brave. So many people don't try new things, especially in groups. That was me as a kid. I ran by myself for years then finally decided to join a group for my first marathon training. (my post about it: ) I was scared to death, but made it. I ate the dust of many runners faster than me, but learned to hang with folks my speed and now I have my own running group. Funny how things evolve. Way to go on your ride! Three cheers for you (and your bike is soo cute!) ~Laura

  4. Thank you all for such nice comments! Some good things have resulted from all this . . . I got a great picture of my fitness (or lack thereof!) level and could see the work I needed to do laid out before me.

    @Fit B I LOVE that you throw caution to the wind! You're my kind of girl!

    @Vicki Yes, baby steps. I'm accepting that better these days.

    @Laura I love my bike too, she's a dream to ride really! And, wow, so cool about having your own running group! Thanks for the comment, and take good care of Eugene, ok? ;)