That time I cycled 100km

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Frock friends, I achieved one of my big scary goals for 2015 recently.

I completed the 100km Brisbane to Gold Coast Cycle Challenge, along with almost 6,500 other mad keen cycling folk.

In the days and weeks since, I’ve answered many questions and the words amazing and inspiring have been bandied about. *shucks*

It’s had me reflecting on all of the small steps I’ve taken over the past year to reach that goal.

If you’d told me a year ago I would ride a bike for 100km, I would have looked at you strangely. And laughed.

Let me take you back 12 months.


I needed to do more cardio

My personal trainer Chris had been on my case to take up cycling.

I had (and still have), plantar fasciitis in my heels, so running, and even rowing and sometimes swimming were limited as they made my heel issue worse.

Having lost a lot of weight and become quite fit, I needed an activity that would spike my heart rate.

Cycling, apparently, would meet this requirement.

So I borrowed a road bike.

Now I had ridden a bike as a child until I was about 12, and thereafter on a few random tours in Europe, like pootling around Amsterdam, but that was it.

More than 20 years later, borrowed bike in hand, I met Chris down at Sandgate where he changed the cleats to pedals, adjusted the height of everything to suit my short stance and then carried it down to the boardwalk, while I nervously followed, helmet in hand.

He said that all I needed to do was get used to the feel of riding and changing the gears.

And to just follow him…

He ran along the boardwalk while I cycled behind him. He helpfully cleared the path of elderly folks, small children and dogs, which was lucky as I didn’t have much of a clue about braking, steering or turning.

Once I stopped panicking I rather enjoyed it. He got his run in and I got back on a bike after 20+ years.

I was petrified of getting on the road though. Traffic combined with my nervous bike riding abilities seemed like two things that wouldn’t go together.


We went bike shopping

I say we, but I was only there to hand over my credit card.

Chris had chosen a suitable bike (XS for height challenged ladies – I was amused to be an XS in something), but it was pink, black and white, which was pleasing. We also bought cleats, cycling shoes, spare things that I didn’t know how to use and a spin trainer – a contraption that the bike could sit on while I rode it indoors, stationery.

This suited me. I had no intention of riding outside the comfort of home.

We also bought butt cream.

I have to say, this was a bit of a shock. Chris threw it on the counter and said “You’ll need that. It’s for chafing.”

Exercise really is so very undignified.


I watched an entire series of The Block

I’m not a big television watcher, but cycling in front of the TV was a great way to avoid thinking about the pain in my butt.

OH MY BUTT.

Chris had initially said it would improve after a month. He later revised that to three months, after I’d drunk the koolaid and bought the bike.

But – after a few months of serious butt bone pain, it sort of… went away.

I have no idea how that works. But I’m grateful to have left that stage behind.


The New Year

I had started thinking that riding outside would be more fun than on the spin trainer, but I was still terrified of traffic and not that experienced in handling a road bike.

I started practicing on bike paths.

I often dismounted at tight corners. I regularly squealed when I rode over a stick. But I was OUT OF THE HOUSE.

Now keep in mind, I had cleats as well. For the uninitiated, these are the clip in pedals. You have to learn to clip in and clip out. If you don’t clip out prior to stopping, you stack it sideways.

Hmmmmm.

There are some permanent scars on my knees.

I changed the cleats back to pedals after a little while, as I was too nervous between getting used to cycling, riding in traffic and managing cleats all at the same time.

I put some time in over summer on bike paths and quiet roads to get used to riding outdoors.

And I liked it.


The cycling group

There had been rumblings among my gym community friends about starting a cycling group – a beginners  one.

By the end of February we had a Facebook group set up and a new Sunday morning commitment.

Fortunately one of our group (Dee), was far more experienced at the whole leading a group business and was very patient as we started out with a simple ride; the short river loop from QUT in the Brisbane CBD, out to St Lucia, across the river and back the other side.  I think it’s around 25km.

We were ridiculously excited about it all; not only because we were out there cycling, but because breakfast afterwards together was fun. We all saw the potential in that.

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Progress

Since then, I’ve missed only a handful of our Sunday rides.

I’m often asked what the secret is to becoming fit. There’s no secret… but for me it’s been about about showing up consistently and doing a well rounded program of activity.

That, and being part of a healthy community.

For every time I didn’t want to get out of bed and go cycling on a Sunday in winter, my cycling buddies were waiting so there was no choice but to do it!

We progressed over time to longer rides; the long river loop which is around 40km, whose hills we’ve now mastered. We also go from Mitchelton to Sandgate (70km return) or Sandgate to Scarborough along the bay (40km return).

After a couple of months, I put cleats back on my bike. Though the double-sided kind which gave me a little more peace of mind. One side is flat like regular pedals, and the other side are cleats. In heavy traffic I still like being out of cleats and using the flat side.

We went to learn-to-change-a-tyre lessons.

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At the beginning of May, as part of Bike Week 2015, the women in our group did the 40km Pier to Point Women’s Bike Ride from Sandgate Pier, which was the first time that we’d ridden with people outside of our group, as part of an organised ride. We had a fabulous time and followed it up with breakfast afterwards. #earnedit

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In June we took part in the MS Brissie to Bay 50km ride. While we were pleased to have taken part in another big ride, it’s not one we’d do again. Something we’ve learned is that bike rides for large numbers of people need to be well managed in order for them to be safe and enjoyable, and this one was a little tricky with a congested route and riders of very mixed abilities grouped together.cycling-3

I’ve become accustomed to having breakfast on Sunday’s not in a lovely frock, but in this outfit (below). So glam.

PS: to the companies who make bike jerseys – please make more with long sleeves. Thanks in advance from all of the #palepeople

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A big scary goal

Early in the year there had been talk of the 100km Brisbane to Gold Coast ride, and, with it being a good six months away, we all agreed that it was a great goal to work towards.

Bu as the date drew closer, everyone who had said they were keen was less so, for a variety of reasons.

But it was stuck in my head.

I wanted to know if my body could do that. If it *would* do that.

A big, scary goal.

The question was, would I go it alone?

A month out, I registered.

In the weeks that followed I bullied gently encouraged my friend Karen into taking part. I knew her husband Gary would do the ride, I just had to convince her!

She had been a little unwell and was reticent, but I knew that she’d be so pleased with herself if she did it.

Either way, I was doing the ride.

Karen registered herself and Gary a few hours before it closed!


Training

I cycled every Sunday with my group, anywhere from 40km to 70km, but besides that, I was relying on the benefits of my overall training program to deliver the stamina needed to cycle the 100km.

My training program includes running, swimming, cycling, upper body weights, lower body weights and core workouts as well as Reform and yoga classes.

Week in, week out.


Riding 100km

I surprised myself.

The ride was great, from start to finish.

Towards the end, my butt was starting to ache, but aside from that – it was a fantastic. It’s not a hilly route, so is perfect for new-ish cyclists.

I went into it with some trepidation about how I’d feel towards the end, so didn’t push much on the speed thinking I’d need to conserve energy, but I was fine and next year I’m keen to go a little faster!

I’d also say it was the best organised, safest event I’ve taken part in. The remit from Bicycle Queensland was evident; there would be no injuries or serious accidents on this ride!

They had fantastic rest stops at 40km and 80km with everything a cyclist could want. There were police directing traffic in the tricky spots which meant that there was no bunching up of riders, and many cheery volunteers on the route ensured that no-one took a wrong turn.

Karen was very chuffed with her efforts and thanked me for making encouraging her to take part.

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Reaching a goal

It feels good Frock Friends.

Big scary goals are indeed big and scary. But I can say without hesitation that working through all of those baby steps, fear, falls and scraped knees has been worth it.

Cycling has increased my cardio fitness exponentially, integrated a fun workout into my weekend and I’ve made some fantastic new friends in this healthy community.


Where to next?

We’re coming up to that time of year (hello there New Year’s resolutions!) and I’m starting to think about goals for 2016.

Watch this space!

Tell me about your big scary goals? How did you achieve them? Do you have some you’d like to reach?

  • Coco Girl

    Well done beautiful girl. You did so well, it’s very inspiring. Very different to when I did the Bris to GC. Awesome to hear how good it can go when you do it properly (ie train), such as you did. Well done, am really proud xo

    • Oh thank you Kate! And yes it was good fun! I had read and remembered your story and spent quite a bit of time beforehand assessing whether I’d make the cutoff times etc. as I so felt for you with your tough experience!