Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Ode to My Training Partners

For my inaugural post on this blog, I would like to take a moment to pay tribute to the two biggest assets to my training: my training partners. Miguel and Bert** are two wonderful guys who are really going above and beyond the call of normal friend duty by spending absolutely endless hours on their bikes with me, despite the fact that they are not training for anything AT ALL. While my unwavering commitment to the bike is inspired by the fact that I have committed to riding for five days straight, and want to avoid being in extreme agony the entire time, they have no made no such commitments. I mean, it’s possible that they’ve made a personal commitment to, like, looking really good in spandex by the summer’s end, or sporting serious quad muscles (in which case, check and check!), they’re not on a training timeline. Which makes all those hours with me all the more altruistic, people.

Because let me tell you, I am not kidding when I say that training with me is not always fun and games! Just ask Miguel. He can tell you about the time I mapped our routes online, but then only peered dismissively at the elevation profile and said “looks super duper fun!” because I really couldn’t read it, only to discover later that the middle 15 miles of our ride were soul-sucking, non-stop hills. Or the time when I made a totally bone-headed move and had an altercation with a tourist by the Jefferson Memorial that caused me to fall dramatically off my bike in front of maybe 30 people, all of whom screeched in horror. This fall caused me no real injuries—only a great deal of embarrassment—but very nearly gave Miguel a heart attack. Both of my training buddies could also tell you about the many times I talked absolutely nonstop nonsense to them every time I was in earshot, or glared resentfully at them as they effortlessly careened up hills while I slogged up slowly as a turtle with leg cramps, or asked them a question about my bike that I probably should have figured out back in fourth grade. Fun times, right?!

I also demand a lot of my training partners. I had not really been on a bike for, ohhhhh, a shameful number of years at the time I started training for this ride, as Bert can attest. I have taken to calling Bert “Coach” (which I enjoy greatly because it makes me feel like a huge jock) because he literally had to teach me how to do everything. When we first started riding I could barely shift gears without falling off my bike. I was also deathly afraid of going faster than 13 mph, even DOWN HILL. Once, when Bert and I were riding the Mt Vernon Trail, he actually pulled over in (amused??) frustration and asked if I had a piece of paper or something that he could use to cover up my bike speedometer, because I was going so fracking slowly he assumed I was just alternating between obsessing about my potentially-deadly speed and gripping the brakes like a maniac. In true coach-y fashion, Bert has also taken to sometimes riding behind me, especially when we’re doing hills, to see if he can diagnose ways to improve my shady biking technique, a tactic which has been highly successful. He even gives positive feedback when I do something that is supposed to be profoundly easy but is actually stupid difficult (e.g. drinking water while riding a bike)!

Seriously, both these guys are absolute champs. I expect that at any moment they will sprout little spandexy angel wings. Miguel and Bert, I salute you. Now, who’s up for a 50-miler this weekend?? And the next?

**I have given my biking buddies code names to protect their privacy and to ensure that no other biking ladies swoop in and steal them from me. “Miguel” is after Miguel InduraĆ­n, a Hispanic cyclist and all-around great guy, much like my biking buddy. “Bert” is just a funny bastardization of his real name. I get a kick out of it.


  1. It was amused frustration. You're pretty darn cute when you are nervous on your bike so it's hard to be actually frustrated.

    -Bert (Coach)

  2. I would like to clarify that the only reason why I climb hills faster than Steff is that she loves biking using only the highest front gear. I know my legs wouldn't be able to take that sort of abuse. I don't know if Bert has been coaching her to do this but it's pretty impressive.


  3. Largest chain ring? That is impressive. That's not my doing.

  4. Um, that was mostly about my issues with friction shifters. But my problem is now solved! Last night the awkward bike shop guy helped me figure it out. No more riding up cliffs on the largest chain ring for me! Woot woot!


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