It’s not like I don’t do anything else in my life. But for some reason, cycling inspires me to blog. I can’t
The bike that got me places
help myself. The whole time I’m cycling I’m composing a blog post in my head. The thoughts just flow. None of them are serious thoughts. I can’t think about serious stuff when I cycle. That is one of the biggest blessings about cycling: none of the serious stuff seems serious at all when I’m on my bike.
I’ve been convinced for quite some time now that the main reason I’m not getting faster as a cyclist is that I need a faster bike. Have you seen the bikes the pros ride? Do you think they look anything like my bike besides the fact that they have two wheels, bars, a seat and a frame? Have you tried picking up a pro’s bike? You can do it with your pinkie finger! My bike isn’t the heaviest bike in the world, but it sure isn’t as light as real cyclists’ bikes.
BUT have you seen the prices of the bikes the pros ride? You could get a nice car for a similar amount of money. So buying a really really good bike is out of the question for me. I CAN save up for a bike slightly better than the one I have now, though.
Having said that, my current bike has taken me safely across Europe. It’s a GREAT bike. It’s dealt with falls, getting packed on planes, and a rider who doesn’t really know how to upkeep it.
Anyway, since I can’t currently afford to buy a new bike but I still want to become a faster cyclist, I decided the next best thing would be to buy two new wheels. (more…)
I have very predictable pee schedules. I can get through much of the day without having to go to the toilet very often. Then I go to bed and I have to get up at least twice during the night to pee. Then morning comes and I eat my bowl of oatmeal and have a single cup of tea. That leads to peeing in copious quantities every half an hour for the next three hours or thereabouts.
This makes my life generally difficult. It makes travelling and training pure hell.
Who doesn’t leave their hotel first thing in the morning after breakfast to start their sightseeing? Everyone does that. I do that. But it means that I’m stopping the people with me every half hour to find a toilet until I’m past the critical period of multiple pees. It also means that when I was cycling across Europe, in need of very early starts to get my cycling done as early as possible during the day, I was stopping at the side of the road all the time to pee. I don’t even want to think about the number of people who might have seen my exposed rear end. I try to hide myself away but, seriously, how hidden can you ever be on the side of a major road, for example? It also means getting up at least twice in the middle of freezing cold nights to pee while camping.
Yesterday I had to get my run done early in the morning because I had other things that needed to get done the rest of the day. Do you know how irritating it is to feel an exaggerated sense of needing to pee with every single stomp of your feet on the ground? It’s AWFUL. But I persevered. (more…)
Old picture. But I think it’s important to add pictures to blog posts. So this will have to do.
Last week, while on my 2.5-hour bike ride, I noticed that my sports bra felt tighter than usual. This was a problem because, as I began a very long and steep uphill climb, it felt like my thoracic movements were limited (i.e. I couldn’t expand my lungs as far as they needed to go to get in the amount of air I needed to breathe up that fucking hill!).
It was extremely irritating. Since I didn’t have much else to think about on that ride (all the actually important things never seem as important while I’m cycling), I went into a state of deep contemplation as to what might be the reason behind the fact that the bra felt tighter.
Initially, I thought that I might have just clipped it up to the tighter hooks. My right shoulder is still healing from a dislocated shoulder, followed by a frozen shoulder, followed by a shoulder operation. For weeks, it was completely impossible for me to hook up a sports bra on my own. Do you realize that most sports bras are the kind with criss-cross shoulder and back straps?? Why is that?? When my shoulder froze and I realized wearing my criss-crossed-back sports bras had become impossible, I went shopping for a sports bra without the criss-cross back so I could first hook it up from the front then twist it around like any normal bra. They didn’t exist! I went online. Nothing! I had two normal-strapped sports bras that I bought three years ago and I had to switch between them for ever so long. Anyway, my shoulder finally sort of works now, so I’ve gone back to wearing the other bras as well. But it’s still a minor struggle hooking them up in the back. So, I thought maybe I just hooked it up wrong this time.
For some odd reason, I almost immediately dismissed this completely logical possibility.
The more logical scenario, I decided, was that all the training I had been doing over the past two months to regain my fitness after being out of commission for so long because of my shoulder led to an over-expansion of my lungs. (more…)
Nadia’s overdramatized “official” version of her 50km bike ride today:
Black clouds loomed overhead and the weather forecast said to expect rain. Yet Super Nadia valiantly threw caution to the wind, got into her cycling gear, and headed off with a huge smile on her face. “Rain?” she said to herself. “RAIN, THEY SAY?? WHAT IS RAIN?? IT’S LITTLE DROPS OF WATER, THAT’S WHAT IT IS! SUPER NADIA DOES NOT FEAR A LITTLE BIT OF RAIN.” (Super Nadia tends to talk to herself in capitals quite often).
Super Nadia set off, pumping her legs at supersonic speed – one of her many super powers. Crosswinds threatened to tumble her off her bike. Headwinds did everything they could to push her back to where she came from. Super Nadia wondered, “Why does it never seem like there are any tailwinds?” Regardless, she held a steady, supersonic pace and fought through the winds. (more…)
A 20-kilometer bike ride for a cyclist is like putting chewing gum in your mouth and spitting it out. It’s
This picture is probably a year old. Today it was dreary with no sun. There were no lakes in the background. But I was wrapped up just as warmly.
nothing. A 20-kilometer bike ride for me when I’m fit isn’t as easy as spitting out chewing gum but it’s a nice morning’s ride. Today’s 20-kilometer bike ride was a really big deal.
Today was the first time for me to be on my bike since I got frozen shoulder sometime in November 2015 and subsequently did an operation mid-January 2016. It’s the second time I’ve been on my bike since I fell and dislocated my shoulder in October 2015.
My husband sort of cajoled me into it. We’d cycle into the nearby village and have a nice lunch, he said. He knows that food is my weak point. I knew I had to get back on my bike sometime and I knew my shoulder could handle the 20-kilometer round trip. I also knew my real challenge would be mental.
Once you’ve been through the mind games a couple of times you know what to expect and you know you can handle them.
Today, cycling downhill felt like I was about to summersault down the hill. Every pothole and drain looked exactly like a Nadia-eating woman trap, designed specifically (of course) for Nadia. Building up speed felt like an invitation to a horrible slip. And cars passing by were all the enemy.
But I recognized every single one of those thoughts from previous experiences. When I first started cycling as an adult about three or four years ago, those were the thoughts that went through my head. When I started challenging myself with my cycling, those were the thoughts that went through my head. When I fell off my bike the first and second times and got back up again, those were the thoughts that went through my head. And when I went out on my bike for the first time after my shoulder dislocation, those were the thoughts that went through my head.
I recognized every single thought and knew how to dampen them out. (more…)
I’ll bet you’ve always wondered how The Nadia would handle self-pity over a post-traumatic frozen shoulder.
That’s why I’m going to tell you how she handles it:
She gets told by her physiotherapist that, as a result of a shoulder dislocation two months ago, she now has frozen shoulder. This means that rather than taking six weeks to three months in order to heal, it could take anywhere between one to three years. In the meantime, she will have limited range of motion in her shoulder joint and pain.
She goes home, writes herself an excellent pep talk on Facebook, listens to some great music, and feels like she’s on top of the world.
She wakes up the next morning feeling like she’d rather not get out of bed. When she does, she can’t get any work done. She sits in front of her laptop for a full two hours getting absolutely nothing done.
So she writes a blog post to tell the whole world how sorry she’s feeling for herself.
She decides she’s not going to the gym today just because. In fact, she’s not going to do ANYTHING today.
She goes to the gym because she knows nothing good has ever come from not going to the gym.
She decides since she has gone to the gym, she’s going to get the heaviest weight she knows she can handle for all the non-shoulder-related exercises.
She discovers today’s gym class is all about the shoulders and she starts doubting her understanding that nothing good ever comes from not going to the gym.
The gym instructor is nice. She gives The Nadia alternative exercises, half of which she still can’t do. The Nadia starts feeling even more frustrated than when she woke up. She starts focusing on creating super biceps and triceps.
Everybody else is told to do push-ups. The Nadia decides she’ll try to hold a plank. She can’t because it’s too much pressure on her bad shoulder. So she decides to teach herself how to do a one-handed plank. Maybe by the end of this ordeal she’ll be the only one in that class who can do one.
The class ends and The Nadia has hardly broken a sweat. She’s angry. She decides she’s not even going to take a shower.
On her way home, The Nadia laments her cycling days. Even though the physiotherapist has told her she can get back on the bike, she’s been reluctant to because she doesn’t want to fall. First, because falling is now even more scary than it used to be. Second, because falling would mean making her bad shoulder even worse, which she could do without.
The Nadia gets home, puts her gym bag on the floor, gets her cycling jacket and helmet out, grabs her bike, and starts cycling, thinking FUCK THIS! I’M GOING TO GET ON THIS BIKE AND CYCLE!
The Nadia sees every crack in the road as a potential bike trap. But she keeps cycling.
The Nadia discovers that, although there is some pressure on the bad shoulder, it’s not as bad as she expected. She does have to relieve the pressure on it every now and then, but a one-hour ride turns out to be doable.
She gets home in one piece, wraps herself up in her fleece robe, and writes a blog post to tell the whole world that she might be feeling sorry for herself, but she FUCKING AIN’T GOING TO LET THAT HOLD HER BACK!
And that, my dear friends, is how The Nadia deals with self-pity.
If I was going to traipse around the world, hiking, cycling, marathoning, and triathloning, I was bound to
The day after the fall, making our way to Amsterdam by train instead of bike.
hurt myself somehow.
It comes with the territory. You can take as many precautions and reduce the risks as much as possible, but you can’t prevent the inevitable.
Living life is a risk. Sitting in a moving vehicle is a risk. Heck, spending most of your time in a chair in front of a TV or a computer is even more of a long-term risk than any hiking, cycling, gyming or marathoning I might be doing. Do I need to remind you about obesity, diabetes, heart disease and all the other myriad risks of sedentary living?
What was bound to happen? My bike wheel got caught in a tram track—you know, those huge, menacing, gaping linear holes in the ground present in many modern European streets. I fell—my right arm outstretched—and as I hit the ground the first thing I was aware of was that my shoulder had popped out of its socket. The second thing I did was to look behind me and make sure I wasn’t in the way of cars (or an oncoming tram). I wasn’t. I slowly pulled myself up from my strewn position on the road in downtown Brussels and as I did, my shoulder slipped back into its socket. (more…)
I did it! I cycled 103 miles (166 kilometers) over killer hills with a total elevation gain of 11,000 feet (3353 meters). That’s more than half the height of Kilimajaro (Africa’s highest mountain) in a single day!
An official event picture during one of yesterday’s climbs.
As much as I hate running, I absolutely love cycling. But I don’t love it so much that I’d do as my husband does and cycle to work every day, taking an extra long route for the extra training. Nor do I love it so much that I’d focus all my attention on cycling training; going out, like I see the cycling guys here in the UK do, three days a week with Saturday or Sunday completely set aside for a very long ride. I can’t train for the sake of training. I train so I can do stuff.
That’s why I go to the gym. It’s why I run (sometimes). It’s why I’m now working on my swimming. And it’s why I cycle. I want to be able to do cool stuff and enjoy myself. And the cool stuff I want to do requires training.
That means I’ll probably never excel at any of these things. But I don’t care. Compared to runners, swimmers, and cyclists, my abilities are less than average. I’ve gotten myself up to the level that I can participate in some of the same events they do, but I do them much more slowly. But I don’t give a shit because I can do them too!
Yesterday was such an awesome day. I enjoyed every single bit of it.
The Hoy 100 is a cycling event organized by Evans Cycles in the UK together with Sir Chris Hoy, the most decorated Olympic cyclist of all time. He was there! I saw him! (more…)
Less than two years ago, my husband gave me one of his old bikes and we joined a group of beginner cyclists for a one-hour
This is a picture of me (in the back in a pink shirt) from last weekend’s Parkrun, doing my little running shuffle. That little girl ALWAYS beats me to the finish.
outing. The cycle started with a small hill. I completely failed to get up it. I broke down mid-hill and threw a tantrum that lasted several hours. I was upset with my husband (who else do I have to blame for life’s miseries?) because I felt he had set me up for failure. The bike I was using was not a nice road bike like everyone else’s. It probably wasn’t even the right size for me. How was I expected to do hills anyway? And we should have started by going off on our own until I had more confidence and strength to join others.
A month later, my husband took me to a beautiful rural area several kilometers away from our house. I cycled there on my brand new, properly fitting road bike. For reasons known only to him, we ended up on some extremely steep (for me) hills. I threw another tantrum. I got off the bike and walked up the steepest hills. My legs were not strong enough to pedal up. It just wasn’t happening. And again, I was angry with my husband for setting me up for failure by taking me to the steepest hills in the country, or so I believed at the time.
Three months later I cycled with my husband from London to Paris in three days.
One year after that I cycled solo 5630 km from Lisbon, Portugal to Tallinn, Estonia.
If not for that whole experience, I would have given up on running by now. (more…)