Thoughts on Cycling

Since I have been forced into a running hiatus with my screwed up foot, I have tried to turn to other workout options.  Because, in some bizarre twist of my non-athletic fate…a whole week of not working out seems like a death sentence to me.

Who have I become?

I digress. Yoga was out because I’d have to hold poses on my hurt foot.  Not good. So was walking.  Walking! No tennis, basketball, softball, soccer…but really, those weren’t likely in the first place. Swimming was an option, but I found that I’m too high maintenance to spend the extra hour and a half before work to do it. Not to mention too sleepy. So basically, that left bicycling, both the stationary and the actual variety.

I attempted stationary bicycling at the workout center at my office. I may be many things, but a stationary bicyclist, I am not.  Usually when I work out, I get this calm, peaceful sense of ease.  I feel insightful.  I feel like I can conquer the world.  When doing the stationary bicycle, I mostly think about how soon I can get off the damn thing.  Needless to say, that was a short workout.

I was excited, therefore, to take my first real cycling adventure outside. The fresh air! The gorgeous scenery! The cardio! Basically everything I love about running, just without the extreme pressure on my arches.  How could it go wrong?

Well, it turns out that cycling–hardcore cycling, which I describe as the 12 miles per hour that I was going at–is freaking. Hard.  I discovered muscles in my legs I didn’t even know I had.  I discovered them because they were screaming at me, “My God, no, not another hill!”  Cycling is also deceptive.  Those hills, man.  They trick you.  I ride a six mile route, and at first, it’s mostly little slopes and dales and valleys and all sorts of other country ephemera that would look at place in the next Hobbit movie (the Shire part, not the wandering through Moria stuff. Obviously).  And then…at some point, you realize that there isn’t really much down hill going on anymore.  Nope, it’s basically just elevation after punishing elevation.

Switching gears is also, I have found, a myth for the uneducated, pedestrian masses.  As I understand it, when you start going up a hill, you switch to a lower gear, enabling you to get up the hill easier.  On flat surfaces, you can hike the elevation back up to cover more ground. Excellent. Sounds great.  I decided to go into barking like an Iron Man contestant and just use the highest gear all the time. I am a strong, liberated woman. I got this.

But after about the fifth consecutive hill-with-no-down-slope, I decided enough was enough and switched down a gear.  Which only had the effect of making me pedal faster and cover less ground, making me look a hamster moving frantically in its little treadmill.  Very attractive, I can assure you.

I am only in one more week of enforced non-running exile.  And I cannot even begin to state how much I am longing for that day! But until that point, you might be able to see me pedaling doggedly up slopes, full gears, breathing like a sumo wrestler and aspiring to pro-biker greatness.

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