Saturday, June 20, 2009

We Should Never Ride on 95th Street Again

Thursday night on my way home from work I stopped off at the sporting goods store. I needed to buy some body glide (after my struggle with the wetsuit Thursday morning, it seemed like a necessity). I also wanted to pick up a couple of cheap water bottles for the bike. I spent my time just browsing around the store because almost everything was on sale. I ended up getting a new sleeveless biking jersey that was on sale and then 30% off the sale price, so it only cost me $20! I also bought a couple of gu packets because Laura keeps saying that she would never be able to eat a Clif bar at the race like I was planning on doing.

Thursday when I got home I was chatting with Laura and told her about my gu purchase. She said that I should try it out before being too far from a bathroom. Going off her recommendation, I went ahead and tried my first one. I had bought all fruity flavors, since I'm not a big chocolate person and the espresso flavor also sounded pretty bad. The one that I tried was Lemon Sublime. It was okay. It wasn't good and it wasn't horrible. I did feel pretty bloated for the rest of the evening and when I woke up on Friday morning, I had really bad stomach cramps, so I'm not sure about how well this gu will work out for me. I'm going to try it again while working out to see how that goes.

Friday I had decided that I would take the whole day off. I was so excited to sleep in really late and get up at the last possible second in order to get ready for work on time. However, my body and my friends had different plans for me. I woke up on my own at 6:30 and then tried falling back asleep only to get a text at 6:47 from one friend. After that, another text and phone call around 7:15 from another friend. I guess even though it wasn't quite as restful as I wanted to be, at least I still got to lounge around for a bit longer than usual, which was still nice.

This morning Drew and I had planned to get up early and go for a bike ride. The early part was essential since the weather said that it should start raining around 10. I set my alarm for 6:30 and was pretty much up and ready to go. I had to poke Drew a few times before he was as willing as I was to get up and go. I brought Clif bars for us to eat before our bike ride, as I wanted to make sure that I would feel okay after eating the bar and going for a ride (since that's my race plan). We ate our bars, got all ready and headed out.

My plan for the ride today was to cut across to the Westside through the park and then show Drew how nice the pathway up the Westside is. Last time I didn't get to go up the whole path because it had started to rain, so this time I wanted to go all the way to the end of the path (205th Street). On our way there, we were stopped at the corner of 95th and Amsterdam waiting for the light to change and Drew's chain fell off his bike. We had to stop and fix that first. He ended up with very greasy hands that required going across the street to the deli to clean up before heading on. We entered the bike pathway via Riverside Park at 95th Street and headed North. When we got to where I had stopped before (at about 135th Street), it was all new territory and I had no idea what we were in for.

At one point the path gets very wooded. Most of the time you are riding right along the river, but this particular part is wooded on both sides and you really do not feel like you are in New York City. I couldn't believe how nice it was. It's just incredible to me how even in New York there is nature to be found. Once we reached the base of the George Washington Bridge, we began our climb up. Not to the bridge itself, it's just the way that the path goes. The first hill was pretty steep and at one point on the climb up, I wondered what would happen if I couldn't make it? I mean, I'm clipped in. If I stopped pedaling, I will fall over. I realized that my only choice was to continue to pedal as hard as I could. I think it was at that moment that if I had been wearing a heart rate monitor, it definitely would have spiked up from the extra effort.

Little did I know, there would be another small hill followed by a really intense hill. The last one was killer. I actually had to get up out of the saddle and stand up and pedal. I was thinking that I might fall over, but if I made it up the hill, it would be really fantastic. I was also realizing that before Westchester and "Claire's Climb" I'm definitely going to have to practice my hills and that this would be a really good way to do so. The big hills were probably about a mile and a half from the very end of the pathway. We got to the end and really only had one option - to head back the way that we came.

Going back meant that we had to go down the hills. I was really scared. I did not want to go. I really contemplated getting off my bike entirely and just walking it down. Drew just led the way and I saw that he didn't fall or die or go too fast out of control, so I figured I could do it too. When we got to the bottom of the first hill, my hands definitely hurt from gripping the brakes so tightly. By the time we got to the bottom of the last hill, I was ready to let go of the brakes a little bit and even got up to a max speed of 35 MPH!

Heading back home, the ride was still just really nice. There was hardly any other bike or pedestrian traffic and it was a reminder of why it's important to get up early. As we got towards the end of the ride and were exiting Riverside Park, there were definitely a lot more people out and about walking their dogs. When we were approaching the corner of 95th and West End, I could see that the light was red for us, but it seemed like it should be changing soon. Drew was leading the way and had sort-of started out into the intersection. I thought that we were just going to go through the light since the traffic seemed clear. That's not what happened.

Instead, Drew came to a complete stop, which was rather sudden to me, mostly since I was thinking that we would be going through. I think it was in that 10 seconds of me saying "Oh no, OH NO!" that I realized that neither of my feet were unclipped, I was stopped, and I was also falling over onto my left side. Ugh. I knew that this day would come, I just wasn't prepared to fall over into traffic that now had a green light. I scrambled up as quickly as I could, mostly embarrassed to have fallen. Luckily, the car that was at the front of the line at the light had seen me fall and didn't go right away. Of course, since this is New York, the cars behind him started honking since the first guy wasn't going through the light. All of that just added to me being upset and embarrassed. I got up and realized that I managed to get a small cut on my right hand. I'm sure that was from my finger being pinched by the brake/gear shifter when I fell. My left knee also hurt, but I was wearing leggings and I couldn't see any damage although I was pretty sure I would have a bruise. My left hand also got a bruise right in the middle of my palm from landing on it. I dusted myself off and realized that since the light was green now, we should just go ahead and go.

Right away when I got back on my bike, I could tell that something was a little off. Turns out I bent my handlebars when I fell. Drew was still riding ahead of me. I called to him 3 or 4 times, but he didn't hear. We stopped again for the light at 95th and Amsterdam and I told him about my handlebars and how I thought I should just go to the bike shop so that they could make sure that everything else was okay. Especially with my race next Saturday, I really wanted to make sure as soon as possible that nothing serious was wrong with the bike. At this point it was just a few minutes before 9. Drew said that he would just head home, take a shower and then go grocery shopping for breakfast. I headed off to Toga.

I got there right about 9:10. Of course, they didn't open until 10. Why should I get lucky on a day like today? I didn't mind waiting, since it seemed most important to make sure that everything was A-OK with the bike. All of the workers got there around 9:30, but they were all hanging out outside since the store was still locked up. Since I was just waiting there, one of the guys came over and asked what I needed. I told him about my fall and the handlebars and he said that was a super easy fix. He bent the handlebar back for me right there. He also went through all the gears on the bike to make sure that none of the shifting had been affected. He did say that he thought everything looked okay, but that I could definitely use some lube on my chain and I could still wait to have the bike tech guys give it a once-over.

It was about 9:40 at this point, and I figured that I should just wait a bit longer to be on the safe side. They opened promptly at 10 and they took my bike downstairs to give it a once-over. At about 9:25, my bike came back with a clean bill of health, some more lube, and I didn't even get charged for their very kind services. I'm just so glad that nothing serious happened - to me or the bike! After that, I headed back to Drew's to tell him the good news. When I got there, I knocked some stuff over in the kitchen, which prompted Drew to take away everything that I was carrying in my hands and ask me if I could please put my helmet on. I told him it was all his fault that I fell over in the first place since he stopped when he clearly should have gone!

All in all, the bike ride today was 21.78 miles, which I did in a total of 1 hour, 47 minutes (12.21 MPH average). I'm actually okay with that average. With the hills, the city riding, and the stopping we did for the fall and the chain incident, I don't think that's too bad. I know that I was going really pretty quickly on all of the flat parts, so I don't feel as down in the dumps as I usually do about my speed. Plus, I came home to an excellent breakfast that included cinnamon raisin toast! Tomorrow is the Terrier open water swim and run clinic. I'm just hoping that the weather holds out and isn't raining then.

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