looks aren’t everything

Three different guys on my 3 hour ride this morning commented on how good looking (and fast looking) my bike was. Well thank you very much. Too bad that doesn’t mean jack squat if I don’t have the engine to power the damn thing. And today I just didn’t have the engine.

One of my new tri buddies out here in Seattle totally changed my bike setup last night and I was super unhappy for the first hour or so of the ride. I should have anticipated the adjustment period but I was especially frustrated because I had talked another new tri buddy into riding with me and was phenomenally embarrassed when I couldn’t keep up with her on a flat bike trail (granted there was a pretty nasty headwind). So after I told her to go on ahead with her workout while I decided what to do about my own ride, I tried to focus on settling into the new position and how to reroute myself for a solo ride. But I’ve been struggling mentally with rides lately. I don’t know if it’s my bike, my tired legs, the stress of being homeless, a natural point everyone reaches in ironman training, or what. But I feel very alone and I have not figured out how to pull myself out of these dark places I go in my head when I’m riding alone. I’m not wired to suck it up or push through it. I find myself stopping unnecessarily and texting people and trying to find excuses or ways out.

[Sidenote: I hope none of you ever, for one single second, take your training buddies for granted because I was getting so envious this morning of all my friends at home that I knew were out training together – many of whom encouraged me to sign up and who I planned to spend many long hours training with – back before I cooked up this whole sabbatical/road trip idea.]

I mean, I am just not a cyclist. I usually don’t love group rides either. Even in small groups with great friends I have a hard time staying positive. I haven’t been doing it long enough to be any good but I have ridiculous expectations that I should be better and then I just constantly disappoint myself. I want to be a cyclist but I know I never truly will because at my core I’m a runner and I just don’t think you can switch  — unless you’re one of those stupidly naturally talented athletes that ends up being good at everything they try because they just have the right dna – physical and mental. But I love cycling because of where it takes you. I love being outside. I love the scenery. I love exploring. And you can go so much further and faster on wheels than on feet so it’s just totally different than running and super fun. Unless it’s one of those days like today where I couldn’t care less about the scenery or the weather or experiencing a cool new city because nothing feels good and I just want it to be over. I mean, when you get to a point where women in jeans riding flat pedals are passing you without breaking a sweat, you know you’re having a bad ride, a very bad ride.

So instead of taking a compliment from a stranger at a stoplight, I have a little pity party and respond in a self-deprecating way rather than appreciating him admiring my bike.

After 3 hours of questioning everything, I pull into my friend’s garage to have him swap out my stem because I felt like I was hanging over the front wheel. While he was taking things apart I was trying to psych myself up to go ride a loop around the lake to get off the damn trail, find some hills, and play with traffic instead of pedestrians. But when I come back from refilling my water bottle he breaks the bad news: my fork is defective. And he was angry. Like really angry. Hold on, slow down, put the anger aside and explain to me what is wrong and why I can’t ride my bike. Said friend used to own a bike shop and for various reasons doesn’t like the manufacturer of my bike and his discovery further cemented his frustration so I was having a hard time understanding what it meant that the aluminum sheath was moving inside the carbon tube because he was just going off about factory production and mechanics not following basic safety standards etc. Basically what I took away was that it prevented proper headset compression and the weight bearing of the front end was therefore not properly distributed and very dangerous. Well okay that doesn’t sound good.

My bike was just hanging there on the stand with the aerobars detached from the drop bars detached from the stem detached from the fork detached from the wheel. In pieces. So there went the rest of my planned 6 hour ride, not to mention the run off. And of course that just sends me into a spiral of how to fix my training plan, where do I get a bike to ride, how many workouts can I screw up in a week before I’m completely derailed, what if this, why did I do that, on and on my thoughts are spinning. I’m standing there barefoot in his garage with no wallet, no wheels, no plan.

I’m not really a good roll with the punches kind of gal. I feel grossly underprepared for this race to start with. I am starting to get really tired and anxious from couch surfing with friends and driving all over the greater Seattle area on a daily basis. I want to get a good idea of if I’d like to live here but I’m doing a terrible job because I’m not investing in one neighborhood and really getting to know it. I’ve started looking at week long airbnbs and short term rentals but the cost worries me. Plus there’s so many other places I still want to go so I’m leaning towards leaving town for a little bit before my house sitting gig starts in a few weeks. But how can I leave town with my bike in pieces? Obviously I can’t. I’m hoping to get a temporary resolution til Cervelo sends a replacement fork but I have no idea how long dealing with a warranty claim takes. No matter what, I’m not letting this get me down. It was really only a matter of time before I hit a snag in build up to ironman; there’s too many moving parts for it all to go smoothly all the time. So better now than a week out from race day right? Right.

I can just only find it humorous though that everyone was admiring my bike this morning when in reality it was broken on the inside. And I’ll take it one step further and flip the image, because I may not look very sleek or fast or fit on the outside, but it’s just been a tough week and I am probably in some of the best shape of my life and I’m not even done yet. We can’t all be poster models for the brands, but my extra pounds and curves are still gonna show up on race day and gut it out with the rest of them whether they think I look good doing it or not. And it’s character building setbacks like this that will eventually give me the grit to get it done.


Oh and when I’m done I might reward myself with a single speed because it was hella fun riding my friend’s back to my car! 😉