big ring, little ring and a lot of space

My body feels tired. I just got up from an hour long nap. These types of naps are not uncommon…a few days a week, I take the pleasure of these wonderful opportunities to rest my body. I’m thankful I have the time to do so. I wake early for work and when I get home mid-late afternoon, if I can sneak in a 30-60 minute nap , I indulge. Even so, my body, right this minute, feels tired. Or, more accurately, sore. My legs feel stiff, heavy. My hips and lower back are tight and need stretching. My right upper leg/hip are are especially tight and generally feel out of whack….I know this is because of my cycling and more specifically from the session I did last week on an indoor bike at the gym. As I am new to consistent cycling, I now realize, that riding on the gym bike was a bad rookie move. And, I am still paying the price 6 days later. For the last 6 weeks, I have been consistently riding my own bike and getting familiar with it…learning it’s ways, getting to know the feel of it under my body. The gym bike was, of course, a general bike for anyone. As soon as I took my seat and began pedaling, I physically felt all sorts of wrong. Especially in my seat area and I could not adjust it to feel better. So, being me, I just do what I do; hammer away and through the planned workout of 40 minutes cycling. This was after a fast 20 minute run on treadmill. (Why did I do this inside? Because for a shorter ride like this, it’s not really safe or easy to ride on the roads in town after work. I thought it would be easier to do this short back-to-back workout at the gym)

Anyways…I rode and when I tried to peddle a bit faster, I could feel a strain on my right side because I was just not seated correctly. When I finished the workout, I felt fine. I even thought maybe I should have gone longer or pushed harder….
Well, the next day, I was in a world of hurt. The tightness and soreness in my legs/hips were nothing I have experienced in quite some time. It was this unfamiliar soreness within a myriad of muscle groups that have not seen much action. I know what soreness from running is and what it feels like. I have been getting to know the soreness from MY bike….but, THIS…..this was the unknown and the wicked, wicked witch of the west! I was hobbling along during the day…walking in all sorts of crooked manners to try to deal with it. I needed help so got a last minute massage that definitely helped. Hips, hamstrings, gluteus, and back got all the attention!
So, it IS fair to say I won’t be riding at the gym again. Probably ever!
I took 2 days off from any exercise and then had a slow, a bit awkward, 50 minute run in Golden Gate park on Saturday. Awkward because the area in my upper hamstring/right hip area continues to feel off.

As the week went on, I realized how tight all these aforementioned muscle groups are and so have been trying to spend time daily to loosen them up with different stretches. Lots of hip flexor stretching! I’ve know all along for years this area was tight, but it’s a whole new level of tightness now! Anyway, was glad to get the Saturday run in and then on Sunday, I went for a bike ride with a friend. He is a pretty experienced cyclist who rides for a local team and races. This was the first time going out together. We spoke a few weeks ago and I said I could go with him when he needed a slow/recovery ride. He had ridden 85 miles on Saturday in the Sierras, so a recovery ride on Sunday was in order for him. I was excited and a bit intimidated, of course. I just wanted to not slow him down too much.

Let me preface this next part by saying I’ve had my bike for 10 years and it’s a nice bike with good components, however, I don’t know much about the “mechanics” or when to use what and why…a rookie, you know!
And for the past 6 weeks, I have been riding in the county with some slight hills, nothing major, but some rides have more rolling hills and such, so it is a challenge.

So, we leave from my house and after the first familiar stretch, instead of turning left, we decide to go on his loop so I can do something different, which is straight ahead. Up a nice long steady steep stretch…which was also a very bumpy and rough road. I’m riding along in my easier gear and going as well as I can and staying close. We finally get to the downhill and let it go and it is FUN!!! But also scary (for me) because I was going so fast over this bumpy ass road and my eyes were watering from the cool temps and I had trouble seeing a few seconds here and there through my glasses. I was holding on to my handlebars….holding on for dear life it felt like. I definitely felt out of control at some points because I couldn’t see the bumps in the road all that well and was freaked out I was gonna fly off the bike! Whew! A thrill! Crazy and scary and an opportunity for me to figure out my own comfort levels of speed on a road like such!
As we rode along, he was checking me out and how I fit on my bike, etc…he was asking me about my gears and telling me to switch to my smaller chainring. I’m like “what??”. He goes on to explain the whole OTHER set of gears I have on the left hand side of the bars. (Remember, I am a rookie) He proceeds to tell me what those are for…the small chainring is for me to use when I am climbing steep hills…like the one we did earlier. He could not believe I did that hill in my Big chainring because it makes it THAT MUCH HARDER! When I used it on some remaining hills, I was shocked and amazed at how much easier it was! DUH!!!!!!
We both got quite a laugh out of this!

It does beg the questions though of; what did I think those gears were for and why didn’t I ever think to look into it? I know I have 2 chainrings and know I had not been using the smaller one, so why didn’t I question this? All long, I was using my easiest gear on my BIG ring, but I could have made my experiences that much easier and more comfortable had I known about the other…

This lesson…it is not lost on me…the making things hard no when they could be so much easier.
I can’t help but ask; “how is that like my life?”

I’m laughing!!

It was really fun to ride with my friend who is quite experienced. Can’t wait to do it again! Oh, and he gave me quite a few compliments on my riding ability/strength so I definitely take that as a positive! 🙂

Later that day, early evening, I just felt like getting on the trails. I went up to Helen Putnam and ran/hiked for another 50 minutes. Loved and appreciated the beauty, quiet, and space of both activities right in my backyard!

Wednesday: 20 minute run, 40 minute bike

Saturday: 50 minute run, Golden Gate Park

Sunday: 25.5 mile bike ride (morning); 50 minutes trail run/hike (evening)

 

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