Thanksgiving to World AIDS Day

Thank you. Thank you for acknowledging the power of a virus to ravage lives. Thank you for extending compassion to every human being, protec...

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Top 10 Continues

Bret’s birthday seemed the best time to follow through on my promise to complete this list of the Top 10 questions asked about my cycling escapades beginning with a few fun ones:

5. What kind of seat do you have?

When asked by a novice, I know the underlying actual question is more along the lines of “What seat could possibly be comfortable enough for all those miles when my ass is in agony after only a quick trail ride?!”

The answer is always “less is more” which draws puzzled looks so is followed by this story… When I signed up for my first multi-day ride, Steve and I owned a sign shop conveniently located across the street from a bike shop owned by another husband/wife duo interested in upgrading their signage, thus opening trade negotiations. Manny rolled over to our shop one day testing a new bike and suggested I try out its incredible, full suspension seat that was indeed as comfy as a lazy-boy on the behind and would surely bounce so lightly over any rough road that this princess would never feel a single tree root bulging through the asphalt trail.

Manny might have made a sale on the spot but was a better friend, or perhaps could tell he'd more likely make a customer for life by choosing honesty over the quick sale. Instead, Manny told me “less is more” – less for delicate parts to rub against every single time your leg rotates against it – followed by the real answer I needed to hear,  
“Tracy, the only way to stop your ass from hurting when you’re in the saddle is to keep riding.”  
For the next 3-4 years, the # 1 goal for each of my multi-day rides was not to finish first or even to finish fast but to sit down on day 2 without pain.

For the record, CC has a Terry Gellissima but I prefer Stellar’s Serfas Curva bike seat.

4. “What kind of bike should I get?”

Short answer – One that fits. I’ve already made the assumption you intend to actually ride this bike so making sure the frame fits your body and how you plan to ride (upright or bent-over) is absolutely the most important feature to consider. Everything else can be easily customized to your personal preference and budget. Don’t be fooled by charts using only your height for determining frame size. So much more is involved! Stand any 5 people of the same height side-by-side and you’ll quickly understand why this is true. I rode with aching knees for 2 years before someone told me my bike didn’t fit. I bought a bike that fit me and the knee pain instantly vanished.

This is where I turn you on to the experts I’ve relied on for 12 years and about 20,000 miles to build and service my bikes – R+E Cycles – pioneers and masters of a proper bike fit. Located in Seattle, R+E goes out of their way to accommodate and sell about 22% of their hand-built bikes to out of state customers. Even if you don’t buy from R+E, you owe it to yourself to take advantage of their website FAQs and Articles sections so you can walk into your next bike purchase equipped with a better understanding of what you want and need.

If you do visit R+E, see Smiley and tell him GiGi sent you!
Meet CC! Fit by Smiley, wheels by John

3. “How do you climb a hill?”

One foot after the other?  You’ve read many posts about how slowly I ride but you never saw slow until you’ve watched me pedal up a mountain. It’s legendary. I’ve clocked roughly 3.2 mph on both the 4 mile final leg of the climb to the Mount St. Helen’s Johnson Ridge Observatory and the 1.75 mile 23% grade up Mountain Road to finish Day 6 of the Empire State AIDS Ride. Of course, I’m capable of faster speeds on more gradual grades but whether mounting a sudden wall or a 33 mile afternoon ascent of a Rocky Mountain pass, the key to making it to the top is distraction.

One can lean on all that skill gleaned from experts only so long. At some point, your body mechanics will fare better if your head stops trying to convince them to quit! A few of the ways I distract myself through hill-climbing:
Rodney, Tracy, Mary end Day 4 of 2002 Breakthrough Ride
  • Watch the scenery
  • Count how many cyclists pass me – “On your left!”
  • Name that road kill
  • Eat (not necessarily right after the road kill)
  • Sing every verse of “Amazing Grace”. my head of course. Some people I know can sing like a bird while climbing a mountain. I am not one of them.
  • Drink
  • Count how many pedestrians pass me
  • Name the wild berry – a seasonal event
  • Sing “The Ants Go Marching”…usually out loud, in a long line of cyclists climbing very slowly through a particularly steep or narrow-shouldered section of road.
  • Start a conversation with the 1-2 people I pass, very slowly
  • Scope out home and garden ideas. After a two season search, I finally found a house with exactly the paint color combo I want to use on my house while on a short climb up W. Lake Sammamish Rd! 
  • Sing the “I Dream of Jeannie” theme song to kill the last song that got stuck in my head
  • Pray. This is high quality, you have my full attention, prayer time for everything BUT reaching the summit. I have complete faith in reaching the summit with all these distraction tools at my disposal.