Posted by: Budger | August 16, 2008

You’re No Lance Armstrong

One day, when I was struggling with my training for the 2006 Bike to the Beach, I asked two friends who had ridden bikes, one in the BP MS150, what level of cadence I should be riding.  It was an interesting email chain, as one friend indicated I should be riding a cadence of 90+, and the other friend simply responded by saying “try to stay above 70, and remember you’re no Lance Armstrong”.  I got a good chuckle out of that, as I know he was not being derogatory.  Although I have to admit the struggle to be taken seriously on a bike is sometimes very frustrating. 

When I first started down this path 2+ years ago, I started because I thought cycling would be a good way to get some low-impact cardio training.  I made the decision to try and ride the Bike to the Beach as a goal, because I’ve found I train better when I have a goal.  To say that some people around me were skeptical would  be an understatement.  My husband, being skeptic #1, reminded me that I hadn’t worn the nubbies off the tires of the first bike I’d bought 10 years before.  But I prevailed, and he begrudgingly retrieved the bike down from the rafters.  And he is no longer a skeptic.

When I decided to buy a road bike, Shannon and I went to a bike shop, and we were met with skeptic #2, who said “you want to ride?” and sized me up on the wrong size bike out of impatience, and wouldn’t answer any questions.  That’s when we left, and went to another bike shop where we found someone willing to take us seriously. 

So other than the obvious reasons why I am not Lance Armstrong (I’m not an elite athlete; I don’t train everyday; I’m not at the fitness level of an elite athlete…..etc.) there are the other not so subtle reasons as well.  Starting with spandex… some people say that nobody looks good in bike shorts.  I don’t entirely buy into that.  Trust me there are some pretty hot guys, most riding with the UPS team, that look great in spandex.  I am NOT one that looks great in spandex.  Do I wear it because I think I do?  No, I wear it because the additional compression helps my legs, and the chamois helps my rear end.  And since I’m already riding a bike in Texas heat in COMPRESSION HOSE, I don’t feel compelled to add another layer of clothing over the spandex so that others don’t have to view my sausage rolls in the spandex.  Besides, my support crew never has a problem picking me out of a paceline. 

Lance Armstrong is a racer.  I’m no racer.  I like to think that I take the slow and steady approach.  I’m usually at the back of the pack, riding with the kids.  Other than the fact that I have the turtle SAG constantly on my tail, I don’t get too hung up on being at the rear.  However I have a big problem with the people screaming past me on a bike who can’t yell out “On your left” as they pass.  I’m working on my speed.  That was one reason for the new bike, but even I recognize that putting me on a Trek Madone is similar to putting a restrictor plate on the engine of a race car.  However my support crew always knows where to find me. 

Then there is my general skill level.  Although I have gotten to the point that I can now ride my bike and do hand signals, I have not yet remastered riding with no hands.  Some things from childhood still elude me at 44.  But the most important skill that I have not remastered in my bike riding, and one that most sets me apart from any elite cyclist, is my mounts and dismounts.  Some people refer to it as getting on/off the bike, but Shannon has said that my technique is more of a mount.  You see I have very long legs and a short torso.  My seat is always adjusted high, and I have a balance issue on one leg, so hitching my leg over a seat while getting on my bike usually looks like I’m trying to mount a horse from the ground.  My team finds it so hysterical that they now rate my mounts/dismounts on a gymnastics scoring system.  They missed the one this morning where I lost my balance dismounting and fell off the bike while at a virtual standstill.  As I was laying in the gutter, I thought of what my friend had said.

So  I may be no Lance Armstrong in skill level, but I like to think I emulate him, and other great athletes, in other areas.  For one, I try, and I always try my best.  I think about quitting….some days more than others.  Every start on the bike is a me, myself and I disagreement about why I’m doing this.  Sometimes I win the argument, and sometimes I lose, but I haven’t lost the war because I always try again.  So at 7 weeks away from the start of the 2008 Bike to the Beach, my training statistics are SCREAMING “you’re no Lance Armstrong”, but I’m riding anyway.  And I am going to try, really hard, to prove the skeptics wrong.  One of them is me.


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