Ahhh, the question I googled for days after starting this little “journey”. Let’s take a look at what I got goin’ on…
Weight: 192 LBS (yes, seriously)
Exercise Routine: 2-4 days per week, doing about 20-30 minutes on an elliptical or Arc Trainer, supposedly burning about 150-200ish calories…
———–The Progress ————-
May 13, 2013 : Bought my bicycle from Harlan’s Bike and Tour in Sioux Falls, SD. It’s a Raleigh Misceo 2.0 and looks like a little punk rocker on wheels. Rode 6 miles total, 3 miles each way from home to a local dog park and back. Within the first mile, I wanted to kill myself. After the 3rd mile and a bottle of gatorade, I thought maybe I would live. By the 6th mile I was shaking and stumbling into the house. I could not get off my bicycle, or onto my bicycle while it was in motion.
May 14, 2013 : Rode to work (thought I was gonna die) – avg speed: 7 miles at 12.5 MPH, total moving time = 35 minutes. I did NOT track on my way home so not sure how I handled that…at first I was TERRIBLE at remembering to turn on my Strava app on my iPhone. I now realized I COULD ride 7 miles and not die. It was exhilarating even as I was exhausted.
May 17, 2013 : Rode to work (again, was gonna die) – avg speed: 8 miles at 13.1 MPH, total moving time = 38 minutes. Again, I did not track on my way home. I was in so much pain that the following Saturday, I went back to the bike shop, convinced that my seat height was off, my legs hurt so bad just above my knees (quads) and I was sure something was wrong. Two bike shops and 4 mechanics later, I was informed I was a wuss and my muscles would get stronger, the bike fit me fine and my legs needed to toughen up was all.
May 21, 2013 : Rode to work and didn’t track…took the “long way” home with my husband and boss…it was 15 miles in 72 minutes (1 hour 12 minutes) of moving time, averaging 13.0 MPH. I didn’t actually feel like I was going to die, although my legs hurt REALLY bad the next morning.
May 27, 2013 : Finally caved and rode again, legs stopped hurting after 5 days of not riding, excuse was the rain we had torrential amounts of. Rode an easy 6.7 miles up to a local park, unfortunately 1/4 of the bike trail was covered in water from flash floods, but I felt like a kid again, splashing through the puddles with my shoes dripping water and squishing when I walked into the house. It was epic.
June 3, 2013 : Rode to work, tracked both ways! Hooray! To work = 13.9 MPH moving time 32 minutes, from work = 12.7 MPH thought I was gonna die. Legs didn’t hurt as bad today, thought it was because of a tail wind. I always ride home slower than I ride to work, after 9 hours I’m just exhausted.
June 6, 2013 : 13.4 MPH to work, 12.9 MPH going home
June 14, 2013 : Fast forwarding, rode my bike 3 more times between these, but this was the first day I broke 14 MPH for an average, that’s right. 14.4 MPH going to work. Going home was even more impressive, 15.2 although I literally stumbled into the house when we got home and collapsed on my bed. My amazing supportive husband also helped me by getting me a Wahoo Heart Rate Monitor and ANT+ Sensor that attached to my iPhone 4 so I could track my heart rate. Average heart rate: 160 BPM, max rate: 170 BPM (at this point i thought my heart would hammer out of my chest and just go bouncing down the road). I now had a new way to track what I was doing, and could actually see where my heart was working harder or was given more time than needed to recover. I started listening to my body at these points and started learning how fast I really could recover. Whoopie! Exactly one month from starting bicycle riding I was down exactly 0 pounds (really didn’t care at this point) and was maintaining 2-3 days per week of riding. More importantly, my heart, lungs and legs are in dramatically better condition, with my average speed increasing from 12.8 MPH all the way up to 15.2 MPH. 2.5 MPH increase, which may seem low, but when you think of it as a 20% increase in speed, that’s like going 72 MPH in a 60 MPH zone.
Today (June 18, 2013) : I’ve ridden my bicycle 7 of the last 9 days (Mon/Tues/Thurs/Fri/Sun/Mon/Today) and today I rode the long way to work (15.6 miles) and still managed to averaged 14.4 MPH for 1 hour 5 minutes, traveling the northern route of our local bike trails. I had an extremely long day at work so took the short way home (7 miles) and still averaged 14.8 MPH, and the weird thing, that felt like I was “plodding along” at my previous 13.2ish MPH pace! My thighs feel like rocks, my lungs are appreciating the attention, and my heart rate is averaging out closer to 156, still maxing out in the 170 range.
—————What have I learned?————–
Small goals equal huge victories. I didn’t realize how much I set myself up for sabotage in a gym, but that’s not an option on the trails. My first goal was simple. Make it past Pasley Park without wanting to quit. It is 1.8 miles from my house, and the first night we rode, I literally told my husband to just go, I’d meet him at home. He pushed me, bullied me, and bribed me to keep up with him “just a little farther” until we made it to Spencer Dog Park, a perfect 3 miles from home. He let me rest as long as I needed before we returned home. I achieved my first goal only a week ago (June 11th to be exact). I caught myself still pedaling evenly as I blew past the bench mark that had literally been my nemesis less than a month ago.
My second goal? Make it to Spencer Dog Park without huffing and puffing but maintaining at LEAST 13 MPH. I achieved that just last week on Thursday, after 2 days of riding and one day off.
My third goal? Ride the entire bike trail in a day. I did this a couple of times actually, but this last Sunday (2 days ago) was the closest I got to doing it in one go. My relaxation time was 3 hours instead of the full day of working normally. My next big goal for that is to do it all in one go.
Ride up the “Hill of Death” without having to stop at the top. This hill is something like a 15% grade or some nonsense (actually it varies between 8% and 33% throughout this horrendous zig zag action) and is seriously a 2nd or 3rd gear nightmare. I got cocky the first time I tried riding up, I started in 6th gear. By the end of the first stretch, I was down to 4th gear. By the first corner, I was in 3rd, 2nd corner was 2nd gear, and I finished in 2nd gear, huffing and puffing. I get to the top and am almost throwing up. It doesn’t help that it’s already 5 miles into the ride before I get to HOD, but so far every time I hit the top, it’s at least a 2 minute through 5 minute break. My goal is to be able to pedal slow but steady and make it to the top.
Just keep going. When you think you can’t go anymore, trust me, you can. Just push one foot down, just one more time, and before you know it, you’ll be home.
What helped me?
The Strava App, it gives trophies when you beat your previous times in various segments of regular routes, and compares you with others.
Endomondo – It’s a website with the National Bike challenge for this summer. Our company is fighting for first place against a city across the river, and being raised with the East River/West River rivalry is helping push us to ride every day to stay in the lead.
Wahoo Fitness – App I’m using along with the Wahoo Heart Rate Monitor to see my heart rate while riding and after I’m done to see how I’m doing.
All these gadgets help me focus on the little details, rather than the irritation of the fact that I’m exercising.
In the future, my husband said he’ll pick me up more Wahoo accessories, including a cadence counter and a bike mount for my iPhone as well.
What do I hope to accomplish with this riding? Ideally, sure I’d like to lose like 40 pounds, have the heart of a rockstar and the legs of a goddess, but at this point, I will settle for the feeling of accomplishment I’ve gotten each time I’ve managed to go riding. I am burning anywhere from 500 – 1,000 extra calories a day just by commuting to and from work, my body will eventually get on board. There is always tomorrow.