Learning to bike at 34

It dawned on me that I’ve never shared the story of how I learned to ride a bike. Well, re-learned. I’ll back up a bit. 

When I was a kiddo, I did a century with my dad. On a shitty bike. With shitty components. We didn’t train for it. We just signed up for it and bought some Powerbars. And my Dad didn’t ride with me, he rode ahead of me and I tried to catch him. Don’t cry for me, I thought it was cool, because my Dad worked a ton, and had 4 kids (now 6), so any one on one time with my Dad was awesome. Anyway, that was when I was about 12. 

Fast forward to about 15 (I’m bad with details, could be off, maybe I was 14. In fact, maybe that wasn’t a century. Maybe it was a 10k. Nah, it was a century, my Dad never forgets anything, and he says it was). I was riding along the street in Boulder, Colorado (where I lived) to go to the grocery store to buy junk food. Junk food is a treat in Boulder; all they have is granola and kale and hemp. So I was pumped. All the sudden a Jeep skimmed me. Not almost hit me, skimmed me. I lost my balance and fell, and tore my shit up. Lots of blood. Scared. No clue what to do. The Jeep didn’t stop. I took about an hour to gather myself, then hobbled home, pushing my bike, worst of all, sans junk food. I was super embarrassed and couldn’t determine which hurt more, my pride or my bleeding right half of my body. 

Never got on a bike again. 

No, of course I did.  I’m a triathlete after all. And since I spent many years in Boulder, I had lots of friends left there. So one trip, at the age of 34, my friend gave me two options. Ride a bike 2 miles to the bar, or walk the two miles. At the time I was a resident of Vegas and appalled by the idea of last call, and knew I needed to beat the clock. We got on a bike.

It was a shitshow.

Imagine an overweight 5’9″ girl on a cruiser barreling down a hill screaming “Please move over, I don’t know how to use the brakes!!! Or ride a bike!!! PLEASE MOVE!!!” (bell ding, bell ding) The next day, motivated by brunch, more of the same. Everyone I rode by on the bike path heard “Hey! I just learned how to ride a bike! Look how fun this is!!!”

In case you aren’t aware, EVERYONE in Boulder rides a sweet bike, drives a shitty car, has 2.3% body fat, and lives on kale, granola and hemp. Reactions ranged from excitement, disbelief, shock, and fear. At a stoplight, a Chrissie Wellington clone pulled up next to me with her race kit, 2.1% body fat, and $20,000 bike. Naturally I told her about how I just learned how to ride a bike, and it beats the hell out of running. She says to me “just master the swim and you’re all set.” Hahaha, funny lady, I’d already done a 2,4 mile swim. I shared this information with her, and then proudly proclaimed that I was going to be a triathlete! And race next to her! She responded “Good! This sport needs more women” and sped ahead of me. 

It’s been just over 2 years since that glorious day, and in a couple days I return to Colorado to race. The day I just narrated was the first time doing a tri ever crossed my mind. There’s been ups and down along the way, and some EPIC meltdowns, mostly on the bike. Isn’t it amazing how far a person can come? I’m about a year from my first half Ironman, which seems so huge, and scary, and hard, but the human body and mind are two very powerful things. 

Cheers to all and have a Happy Fourth!


About vegastrigirl

I'm a tri baby who's just started to participate in this crazy circus of triathlons.
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2 Responses to Learning to bike at 34

  1. bgddyjim says:

    Awesome post, good luck!

  2. Sandra says:

    This is my very favorite post of yours that I have ever read. The honesty is bruising, and delightful! Of all the comments that CW clone could have made, and she gave you awesome positive feedback, encouraging and cheerful! Yay! We need to boost other women like this! Always! Awesome!

    Good job, sister!!!!!!

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