A reader in Kentucky asks - Let me ask you ( go ahead reader, ask me anything), are you the type of biker who wears spandex and helmet? I picture you riding your bike in a pair of shorts and tank top, hair up in a pony tail, headphones on, leisurely riding around. I think it's awesome you are doing a 100 mile race. The reader then becomes delusional and says that she is sure I am going to love doing this 100 mile ride and want to do them all the time.
Well I just loved this question because there are so many facets to it and I now have something to write about! Thank you, Kirsten!
No, I am not the type of biker who wears spandex. I'm what you can call plump ( go ahead, call me that, I won't punch you in the face, I promise!) so spandex would make me feel like a sausage stuffed into its casing and I would spend my whole ride uncomfortable and annoyed and my rolls of fat would keep falling out over the waistband and I would have to keep getting off my bike to tuck them back in, and then I would just be unhappy and riding is meant to make me happy so no, no spandex. This is the same reason I refuse to wear those awful things called spanx. I don't care how much thinner they are meant to make you feel, they would have the opposite effect on me. I would constantly be thinking about the fact that I was so fat and flabby that it was now necessary for me to put on special undergarments to hold my fat in and at no point would I be thinking, but I look 4 sizes smaller! What DO I wear on my ride? Usually those workout legging pants that come right below the knee, or on colder days, the ones that come to my ankle. On hot days, I wear cutoff yoga pants. Yes, it does look stupid, but I don't care.
Yes, I most definitely wear a helmet. I used to not wear one because I thought it made me look stupid, but then I realized I would look more stupid dead so I caved in and started using one and now I can't imagine riding without a helmet.
As far picturing me riding around in a pair of shorts and a tank top, with my hair up in a ponytail, leisurely listening to music from my headphones, I like this idea and I hope you are also picturing me weighing about 115 pounds and being about 5'8" with long tan legs and perky breasts filling the tank top. Also, a small nose and long neck. Please, please picture me like that. It's kind of how I hope my husband pictures me. I just know I would look good like that. Not everyone could pull that look off but I'm sure it would suit me well.
The reality, of course, is that I look like an oompa loompa when I ride. I know this because I did a charity ride a few months back and I happened to go online to look at the pictures and sure enough there was this thing in one of the photos and I thought oh, I didn't see any oompa loompas out there riding today, this is very interesting indeed. On closer inspection I realized it was yours truly and I almost became upset but then I remembered that even in my fattened state I had managed to finish the ride quite a bit before several young women who were much more fit than me and who had much nicer bikes, so I went back to feeling smug and managed to convince myself that looking like an oompa loompa isn't such a bad lot in life.
As for how I wear my hair and whether or not I wear headphones; I can't wear a ponytail due to the helmet, but I do wear my headphones when I am riding on the bike path. It makes riding long distances more pleasant. Last week I was on a 65 mile ride and I had a moment of exhaustion and I kind of wanted to get off my bike and lie down in the grass and at that very moment, Bruce came on my ipod and starting singing The Promised Land to me and that was all I needed. I actually started singing, too, and I didn't give two poops who was around to hear me. Music helps me tremendously in every area of my life and it helps me ride better, too, so yes, if I'm on the bike path, they are in. If I'm out in the middle of nowhere on a country road, no, I don't use them.
As for riding at a leisurely pace, if you were to pass me in your car you would probably think I was riding for leisure. I am not fast, although I do try to make every ride count. I spend many, many, many hours a week on my bike ( I can't tell you how many because then you will think I'm neglecting my kids) and I would feel guilty if I didn't make the time count for something, so I go as fast as I can go and I like to feel exhausted when I get off the bike, but the good kind, the kind that makes me want to go out again and again.
What I lack in speed I more than make up for in my love for the bike. I LOVE riding. Riding saved me quite a few years ago when I went through an unpleasant experience in college. I got a summer job at the end of my junior year and saved every penny I made and then my good friend, Eddie, took me up to the bike shop in Clifton Park and helped me pick out a mountain bike and I rode that bike everyday of the summer, all over the place.While I was riding I thought about the kind of life I wanted to have and the kind of person I wanted to be and sometimes I just daydreamed about things I knew would never happen but were still fun to think about. I rode on country roads and I went places I probably shouldn't have gone but I always got off the bike and felt better about everything and the bike still does that for me. I never feel worse. Not even when I fall and nearly knock my teeth out.
Over the weekend I had a moment of panic and thought that my idea to do the century was completely foolish and there was no way I could it. I texted my sister and called my sister and finally after listening to me over and over she sent me a text and said, but you love riding so much and that's all that matters, that's what this ride is about, just calm down. So I did finally and who cares if Greg has to come pick me up in the dark and I don't finish the ride with everyone else. Although I don't know that I'll be doing centuries all the time, I do think Kirsten is right, I do think I will end up loving this particular ride. And Anthony would never let me back out now anyway. He already told me the only way to prove how much I love him and care about him and his diabetes is by doing this ride. Then he told me he was kidding and only trying to motivate me.
Anyway, thanks for the question, Kirsten. You provided me with a material for a post!