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Iron Strong Part 16
Learning to Cycle with Bob…
In 2012 I journaled daily through my divorce, leaving the Mormon Religion, being a Single Mom, becoming a Marathoner and eventually an Ironman Athlete. This story will be delivered in parts and not really edited down from the original writings in my journal (including some typos and grammar misalignment). I do this to uphold the integrity of the Woman I was when I wrote these a decade ago, long before I knew this would end up as a full book and despite the fact my writing has evolved in the decade since I wrote these pieces. They read in present day time from a decade ago. These are stories of hope, miracles and never giving up on your dreams. It is a heroine’s journey of shame, secrets and ultimate seclusion to the Finish Line of Ironman Arizona....and then beyond. An Outward Journey to an Inward Destination of Freedom and Liberation, Iron Strong.
Cycling with Bob…
Every Friday I go to a spin class with Bob. (Read about Bob in this part if you are new here) He always has a seat saved for me right next to him as he arrives 30 minutes early to warm up before class. We chat away before the class starts and get caught up on the previous day since even thought we see each other almost daily. Everyone knows and loves Bob and knows we are quite the dynamic duo.
He is a legend in both the running and triathlon world and the most humble, nice guy who EVERYONE just adores. I feel so honored and privileged to call him a dear friend.
So the reason Bob and I go to this class is because the teacher is amazing. She plays music videos, pushes us super hard, is captivating, and also…my personal favorite…is a yoga instructor as well. Haha!
So she builds a theme into the class which I love because I am a total sucker for positive affirmations, motivation, and deep thinking…even while literally kicking my ass in a spin class. So every Friday I get a lesson but I also get motivation…
It was about ODDS…Any gamblers out there? I actually am not because I would rather buy something tangible if I am spending money like shoes or donuts, or workout gear then lose my money but I get the appeal. I guess I am not a risk taker in that regard but I have been skydiving and bungee jumping so who knows, maybe I do enjoy a little risk…
ANYWAYS…odds…She talked about how the dealers and the people in Vegas have it down to such a science. They can place odds on you and usually they always win. They are precise, accurate, and consistent. BUT if you compare this to life…you may have every single ODD stacked against you. But there is one thing that ODDS can’t measure…and that is your PASSION and the circumference of your HEART.
I relate this to myself in this way….I am not the strongest athlete, fastest runner, longest distance runner, quickest swimmer, bike expert, most bendy yoga girl, maybe I don’t have a lot to offer in precision and technique…YET…what you can’t see from me with records and numbers is my passion and heart that would rival any elite athlete.
I am a true testament to defying the odds. I couldn’t run and now do marathons for fun. I couldn’t swim a lap and now compete in Half Ironmen races. Fuel that passion and heart and there is NOTHING…not even the worse athletic, life, mind, body, soul, odds that will ever be able to define you.
Habits. She told a story about her basketball coach husband. He told his youth to switch the dribbling to the opposite hand they are used to. Most moaned and groaned about how hard it would be and how it is not comfortable. But what were the benefits…new skills, talents, and learning to do something difficult.
Habits are comfortable. Habits are safe. But maybe it is time to create new habits. New equals growth and growth equals flourishing. Are there habits you hold on to simply because they are safe?
Maybe it is time to move that habit to the opposite hand and do something you are not used to. Because in the uncomfortbility there is a massive opportunity to grow. To jump out and take new chances and have new experiences. To let loose and live free of our comfort zone.
For me…I was recently divorced and I was creating new habits. Little ones as in my morning and evening routines and big ones in how I parented my children. My personal life I was creating new habits of swimming, biking, and the world of triathlon. I was finding growth in very unlikely places and meeting people and having experiences I could have never dreamed for myself.
It is refreshing…just moving that ball into the other hand…it can be scary…but that just means you care and it is worth doing.
Spinning with Bob on Fridays to this day is still one of my favorite times of the entire week. We laugh. We joke. WE plan racing strategies. It is just simply the best.
Buying my Triathlon Bike…
“She wasn’t exactly sure when it happened. Or even when it started. All she knew for sure was that right here and now, she was falling hard and she could only pray that he was feeling the same way.” ― Nicolas Sparks
My dear Ironman mentor and close friend, Bob, introduced me to the world of biking. I guess it’s an essential part of doing a triathlon right?!?
He took me to look at bikes at a local bike store and national Triathlon club. I knew it would be an “energy” and “go by the way the bike made me feel” kind of purchase because thats just who I am.
So it came down to the Trek Speed Concept 9.5 and Cervelo P2/3. After research and a lot of thought…the Green Trek just had my heart. Ironic because green is the color of the heart chakra and my motto in life is follow your heart. Yah, I am a yoga/reiki geek if you didn’t already know. And there begins my beautiful and romantic love story….just a girl and her Bike.
I’ll never forget when I realized my bike was dude…I thought maybe it was going to be a girl…for the first bit…then my two bestest friends Liz and Sammy saw it. They immediately said that is not a chick! That is a DUDE! That bike is a sexy man! Ha! I was like oh…you are SO right…so from then on out, my bike was dude.
”What’s in a name? That which we call a rose. By any other word would smell as sweet.”
Everyone kept asking me what my bike’s name is. Apparently in the triathlon world naming your bike is like a spiritual ritual! You are about to get the “yoga geek” side of me again. I wanted my bike to have a powerful name…So drumroll please….Shiva Rae.
I chose the second name RAE because it is my middle name. One I didn’t like growing up because it was a “boys name”. Now as a grown woman, I embrace ALL of me and I love my middle name. Not only was it given to me by my great uncle who I truly adore but the name Rae is a Scottish baby name. In Scottish the meaning of the name Rae is: Grace. Anyone who personally knows me well, knows my obsession with all things and people Scottish. It binds me to a country I am in love with yet never have seen. And the word grace…I don’t know how else to describe the way I have tried to live my life especially through my trials.
I got the trainer part down easily on my bike. With the Ultramarathon my main focus I wasn’t spending too much time however, knowing I would immediately shift focus as soon as my race was over. PLUS it was the coldest winter ever in Chicago so I wasn’t able to bring my bike out until a few months after I purchased it.
The first few times I brought my bike out, I thought I was going to die. Not being overly dramatic either. I literally didn’t know ANYTHING about bike handling and being clipped into a bike. Like you have to clip your feet into the pedals and then ride and clip out to stop or you are attached to the bike when you fall over.
It was a completely different feel than regular biking and I crashed in the middle of an intersection because I couldn’t clip in fast enough. I almost wanted to swear it off but knew I had to learn to ride. I had a basic lesson from a friend and learned a bit about what gears do what and what brakes are which because apparently it made a difference if you used back or forward breaks. It helped a lot and the second time I bravely got onto my bike it went much more smoothly!
Then on a complete whim…one of my besties flew in for a few days to help teach me everything bike! I learned to pump up my tires, we spent tons of time at a school parking lot just stopping and starting, clipping in and out, getting in and out of the aero position, braking, changing gears, and how to ride with cars on the road. This time was insanely valuable to me. I felt so much more comfortable and confident after this weekend!
I wanted to keep up on my bike handling skills and get my bike out as much as possible. So one night even though it was literally freezing and I was riding through snow flurries, I went on an 80 minute ride on my favorite bike path. It was AWESOME! Even though I couldn’t feel my toes, I was flying and felt in complete control. I decided I was truly falling in love with Shiva Rae and a sport!
I brought my bike outside again for the 6th time for a 60 minute ride later in the week. I actually had to ride with some cars this time which was scary but I still was on residential roads where they were going slower. Once again, a huge confidence booster and I finally was feeling like I could actually do this!!!
That evening I brought my bike to a friends house and he was able to look at it, teach me how to change a flat, fix my helmet, and give me a bazillion little tips! So thankful for friends who are willing to help and ride with me and on top of that so eager to see me succeed. I feel eternally blessed!
My longest ride to date…with Bob! 35 miles!
It was absolutely amazing! I was SO scared to go on the busy roads but I just followed closely behind and he taught me how to maneuver and work the streets! We rode and rode. He showed me places to ride, paths, and I don’t know if I have been that exhilarated and happy in a long time! We chatted and just RODE!
I felt strong and super free. I knew on this ride I had completely fallen in love with Shiva Rae and the sport of cycling. I went fast at times and took some sharp corners. I know my bike is meant to go fast and I am ready to see just how fast and far we can go together. Bob and I stopped for a donut and coffee at my favorite bakery half way through our ride. It was an incredible morning with one of my best friends. I may not be that fast but after today I am confident I will be able to get the distance down and then work on speed!
Spreading My Wings and Taking Flight…
“What if I Fall? Oh, but my darling what if you fly?” -Erin Hanson
Have you ever felt like you were flying? I am not talking the great experience of skydiving which I was lucky enough to survive and tell about…but really that sensation of flying…soaring free…free of all emotion except the pounding of your heart and the wind on your face.
I have a dear and beloved friend I went biking with on a vacation. On a sunny, warm day with the vibrant red rocks of St. George in Southern Utah…we flew. No words were spoken the bond that was created in our hearts that day will last a lifetime. Some things are truly meant to be felt and not heard.
We had set off on a long ambitious bike journey along the old St. George Ironman course. It was only my forth time riding a bike outside and my first time on a road bike that we had rented the day before. The journey was difficult even for the most fit athletes!
Huffing and puffing I made it to the top of each hill still pedaling away. I remember my friend who was used to hills, living in San Fransisco, just flying up the hills and I would just imagine myself chasing her.
Strict mantra is the ONLY reason I made it up the last and largest hill. In fact when we got to the top a friend who was driving the course we were biking was taking pictures and waiting for us with snacks. All I could do was scream to get the camera out of my face and come help me because I was sure I would pass out or puke any second!
What goes up must come down. As in anything in life…the best views are from the top but they do not come without a fight.
After catching my breath we set off for the last bit of miles and we were looking forward to the treat of the downhill. This is where it was MY time to shine because I am fearless with speed and the down hill portion of cycling.
We began to fly down the hills at a fast pace….wind in our face, sun on our back and red rock formations that truly were breathtaking around every corner. When we got to the portion that turned us into the city view and we were coming down the mountain…that was the moment.
The unspoken moment. Flying. Free. This is what I was born to do.
Not only then did I realize I was created to be a triathlete but I fell passionately in love with cycling. I knew this was the path and hobby I had been led to and it filled every single cell in my body of bliss. We couldn’t wipe the smiles from our faces.
We were truly flying high that day. Free and Wild. A new passion swelling inside. An unbreakable and undeniable bond created through a girl and her bike that can never be broken.