Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Tentative Tracy (or Learning to Love My New Bike)

Tentative is Mike's nice word to describe me on my new tri bike.  Actually he could use the words terrified or terrible.  Well, maybe not terrible, unless you consider the fact that I cannot seem to ride this carbon fiber monster any faster than my road bike (and it's 5 lbs. lighter!).  It is very, very frustrating.

I keep reminding myself that I did not instantly take to my road bike.  I was ready to do my first triathlon, the Golden State Super Sprint, on my mountain bike.  I had been training for 11 weeks on my mountain bike.  I was very comfortable on it.  More importantly, I felt in control.  It was a women's frame, had a nice cushy seat, shifters with numbers on them, and a kick-stand.  What more could a girl ask for?

Well, this girl dared to ask for a little speed and I figured I just wasn't going to get what I wanted out of my beautiful, baby blue mountain bike with the big knobby tires.  I tried riding Mike's mountain bike because his tires we're smoother, but the bike felt too big and wasn't any faster.  A co-worker had offered to let me borrow his bike (we are close to the same height) and I declined.  A week before the race I decided I would borrow the bike.  I made arrangements to pick it up the following day, but before I got over to pick up the bike, I had already purchased my own.

It wasn't a completely rash decision.  Mike and I had been checking out bikes on eBay and Craigslist, and we had been to Performance Bike more than a couple of times to look.  I had started learning about the different components and knew I was looking for a bike with at least Shimano 105 components.  I ended up getting a Scattante (the Performance Bike store brand) W670.  I was not very impressed with the colors on this bike, but it had Ultegra components and it was half off.

I got the bike home and set off on a familiar course so I could compare my ride with my mountain bike ride.  Unfortunately, my maiden voyage on my new bike was at the same time school was letting out.  I was dodging cars and kids as I wove my way around my neighborhood streets.  When I got free of the school traffic, I started heading down a recently resurfaced (chip seal not smooth paving) stretch of road.

My new aluminum frame bike vibrated under me, rattling my bones.   The thin, narrow tires followed the pavement surface, ignoring my efforts to steer the bike.  I was starting to feel a little out of control and scared.  When I got home, Mike asked about my top speed and elapsed time.  I shamefully admitted that my 5 mile ride was only a couple of minutes faster.  My top speed wasn't much better. I was devastated and wanted to cry.

Since I had already spent the money, I was just going to deal with it.  I hated the bike.  I hated how scared I felt and I hated the fact that I was going to do my first triathlon on it.  I was so scared on this bike that I didn't even get clipless pedals.  In the picture above (taken during the race) you can see my bright pink running shoes.  I convinced myself that I did this because it would be faster in T2 than if I had bike shoes on.  I did better on the bike portion of the race than I expected and started to like my new bike.

Unfortunately, the Golden State Triathlon is one of the last ones of the season.  I wanted to race again and I wanted to ride my new bike.  I signed up for a duathlon in the foothills east of where I live.  The race was a success and my bike was an ease on the hills.  I could not imagine trying to do that race on my mountain bike.  After that race, the only bike I used was my new bike.

When I got bit by the triathlon bug, I got it bad.  I started dreaming big and decided that I wanted to do a half Ironman called Barb's Race at the end of July 2013.  As I started training and trying to wrap my mind around what I signed up for, I once again decided that I needed a faster bike.  I needed a tri bike.  

I found a gorgeous bike on eBay that had been used in a few Ironman races including the 70.3 World Championships in Las Vegas.  I figured it was the bike for me and it was the right size.  I think I got lucky with this bike because the auction ended during the middle of Superbowl.  Even I forgot I had placed a bid on it until after I got home from a Superbowl party!

That brings me to today.  I've got that same, fearful, sick feeling.  I'm afraid that this bike will never be right for me.  I can't seem to get the speed out of her that I want or expect.   I know it's not the bike...I know it's me.  I hate this feeling.  Luckily I know that this is just a passing feeling and that I am going to get better and faster.  I am going to keep practicing on her until I feel as comfortable on this bike as I do on my road and mountain bikes.  

Here's my ride stats from today...actually had a few good moments when I wasn't terrified ;-)