Taking to Flight

Let's do this!I’d been working hard on the trainer and spin bike for months while I waited to get a bike that works for me, with intervals, long rides, and high cadences.  Off the trainer I’d been practicing getting started on the bike and stopping without killing myself. It was time to do an actual ride. Just four miles, but four miles more than I’ve ridden a bike in about 20 years.  Clad in spandex and completely unwilling to ride in traffic yet, I put my bike on the car carrier (that I installed myself!) and drove it to the beach path.  It was beautiful outside and since it was basically the middle of the night there weren’t a lot of people.

Mile One:

I take off down the path. Once I get going I feet really good.  It’s much more comfortable riding in real life than riding on the trainer.  I feel balanced and stable, though I get nervous when it feels like I’m going “fast” and I slow down for every tiny curve on the trail (the idea of pedaling at 85-90rpm is beyond terrifying in this moment).

There is a cyclist ahead of me and I have a moment of panic as I see him ride up a really steep hill and then speed down it. I freak out, what kind of monster designed this bike path?  As it comes into view I am relieved to find that the hill is optional – I skip it. Soon enough it’s getting to be time to stop.  I do a little self-talk, try not to freak out, slow down, perform the maneuver (with a nod to Eddie Izzard), and stop successfully.  Woot.

Per my app I’ve biked my first mile (1.02 to be exact) at an average speed of 7.4 miles per hour. Not exactly blinding speed but I didn’t wipe out so this one’s a win.  I call my partner to celebrate and then turn the bike around (both because I decided to stop at the end of every mile today to practice stopping and because at some point I’m going to have to learn to do a tight turn on the bike but this is not that time.)

As I get ready to go a group of three guys go by and yell a cheerful hello.  So I yell “hi” back and we tell each other to have a great ride.  I’m almost ready to go again and another guy – the only person on the beach wearing more spandex than me – yells “That’s a nice bike! ”  I yell thanks and he wishes me a good ride and speeds past.

Mile Two

I get going, I’m feeling a little more brave and more comfortable. The mile goes by uneventfully my app tells me that I’ve done the mile at 9.5 miles per hour.  I slow down to stop, I’m not sure what goes wrong but I find myself on the ground. I get up and dust myself off.  I decide to move the bike back a bit to start the next mile and without thinking I just push the bike backwards, with a sickening click my chain pops off the ring. Sonofa…

I am trying to figure out how to fix it when the guys from earlier drive by.  One of them yells “Do you need some help!”  I yell back “I’m ok.”  He responds “Really, because your chain is off your bike!”  I laugh and say that yes, actually I would appreciate some help. He tells his friends to stop and he quickly puts the chain back on. Note to self, start watching basic bike mechanic videos on YouTube and find a class.  He and his friends take off and I’m set up for another round of “get back up on the horse after you fall down.”

Mile Three

Out of nowhere the wind picks up.  Oh joy, my first headwind, I’ve heard of this.  The wind freaks me out a little bit so I slow down and coast a bit more on this mile to get used to riding and balancing into the wind. About 3/4 of the way through the wind dies down. The mile clicks by without an event, I stop the bike without falling down.  I’ve completed my third mile in an average of  8.7mph.

Mile Four

I’m feeling comfortable and stable and in control so I give it a little more speed, the mile goes by quickly and I stop without eating it.  I’m 3 out of 4 stops without hitting the dirt, my percentages are improving. I’ve finished my last mile at an average speed of 10.9 mph.  Not nearly as fast as I’ll need to be, but 3 mph faster than the first mile so I’m feeling pretty good about this.

The best news of all is that I really enjoyed riding the bike.  I don’t like the running (though I’m learning to hate it less), I don’t mind the swimming, but so far in the little I’ve done (I know that saddle sores and other afflictions are in my biking future) I sincerely like the cycling.  I’m looking forward to many more miles with Phyxius.

More Cool Stuff:

Book and DVD Sale! I’m having a sale on my books and DVDs to help pay for my IRONMAN.  You get books and dance classes, I get spandex clothes and bike parts. Everybody wins! If you want, you can check it out here!

If you have questions about my IRONMAN journey  the FAQ might help!

If you’re looking for a place to talk about fitness from a weight neutral perspective, check out the Fit Fatties Forum. and the Fit Fatties Facebook page.

Book Me!  I’m a professional speaker and I’d love to speak to your organization. You can get more information on topics, previous engagements and reviews here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org!

Buy my book:  Fat:  The Owner’s Manual  The E-Book is Name Your Own

About danceswithfat

Hi, I’m Ragen Chastain. Speaker, Writer, Dancer, Choreographer, Marathoner, Soon to be IRONMAN, Activist, Fat Person.
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6 Responses to Taking to Flight

  1. Yay you!!!
    I’ve had lots of luck with Youtube videos on basic bike maintenance, and for the more involved things that scare me (like changing or repairing a tube), I’ve taken workshops at the local university, or some outdoors stores and bike shops host them for nominal fees or pay-what-you-can. The chain coming off the derailleur is an easy, but greasy fix to pick up.

    I’m so glad I’m not the only one who really doesn’t like running. I’m always envious and a bit dumbfounded by those people who get the “runners’ high” — and I’m always wondering if that high is just the relief and satisfaction of a run being over with, or is it really the nirvana haze that some people feel that’s always eluded me?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hey, it sounds like a lot of fun! 21 years ago I decided to get a Proper Bike for my 40th birthday, as I was using my old 3-speed a lot for commuting to work… a very keen biking friend gave me tons of advice on what to buy, but in the end I kinda went with my gut feeling and ended up with a MAHOOSIVE 21″ diamond frame monster with street tyres and off-road tyres and 21 speeds and a seat like a slat… so the bike shop guys got busy adapting it to my seriously portly frame, raising and bringing back the handlebar, giving me a well-cushioned wide seat (to match mine), making sure it was the right height for me…
    Well, here in England, there’s a very popular charity bike ride called the London-Brighton, for the simple reason that that’s where it starts (London) and ends (53 miles south in Brighton). All for the British Heart Foundation, a good charity. I trained a fair bit with my friend, including a lot of off-road stuff (because that’s what she loved doing), and got sponsorship, and felt pretty confident…
    Long story short, a whole series of frustrating events and problems meant I only got halfway, having actually ridden over 60 miles, but I got the sticker… which is still on the bike!
    I had a simple choice with bike riding. Either lean forward and get strength to pedal, or sit up to breathe. I must’ve looked like a rocking-horse at times! But it was the biggest physical endurance test I’d ever done, and – well, I reckon I did not too badly, considering I hadn’t prepared that well.
    You’ll ace it!


  3. Penny says:

    Hi Ragen, Well done with your first bike ride and signing up for the Ironman!! I am enjoying following your blog and progress
    I’m sure you’re getting enough advice…..but I just wondered if you have you ever thought of getting some outdoor cycling lessons? People think everyone should be able to ride a bike and that its easy – but really its a skill that can be taught which really helps adults who are coming to it later in life enjoy it more. In the UK its called National Standard Cycle Training or bikeability and I teach lots of people exactly like you (admittedly most haven’t signed up for an Ironman yet).

    Also in terms of bikes cyclists and triathletes in particular are so set in their ways about what sort of bike you should ride and how it should be done…..but do what works for you. My husband rides a flat bar road bike. Its a very light, very fast bike – but he gets quite a lot of negative comments about it just because it isn’t a proper racing bike. I’m sure you’ve already spent enough money on your bike…..but for an Ironman it needs to be comfortable and work for you – so don’t be put off making alterations so that you don’t fall off.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Stacy says:

    This is fast improvement! Go Ragen! I’m so happy that you’re making such strides forward. And I’m also really happy to hear about all the helpful and encouraging people you met on the way. I was kind of stealing myself to read that something idiotic and fat-phobic would came out of one of the guys mouths, but am SO HAPPY to hear that they were nice and offered up encouragement and help instead! Faith in humanity restored! lol 🙂

    Congratulations on your successful ride! *cheers you on from Cali*


  5. CraftyKhandy says:

    Yeah!!! The bike is such a good feeling, I agree. Also- so happy to hear you encountered positive good cyclists. 🙂


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