Learning and more learning

The smell of stale mud caked onto worn out bike tires pierces through the air as I glance around the shop staring at posters, trophies and photos of past and present riding warriors. This place is teeming with character and it feels like a second home. I focus myself back to the present moment to see the shop owner meticulously inspecting my tires. “What PSI are you riding on?” I am a clueless rookie to the cycling world. I couldn’t tell you what half the parts of my bike do, or even how to properly grease my chain. Up until a month ago, I couldn’t even change a flat tire. All I know about riding a bicycle, I learned as a child; get on, don’t fall off, and pedal like crazy. What else did I need to know? Suddenly I was thrust into a world of cassettes, saddles, aero bars, derailleurs, down tubes, and now PSI. Apparently 40 PSI is “a little low.” Yet to a novice cyclist, what’s the difference? I was quick to learn that the difference was about 10 seconds per kilometre, which, to me, is a significant difference.
This is just a fraction of everything I’ve been learning over the last few months. The learning curve has been fairly steep. As I said, I only just learned how to change a flat tire, and that wasn’t without screaming, cursing, flailing, multiple replacement tubes and a final visit to the bike shop which ended up with them finally just doing it for me. It must have been my damsel in distress look and manically twitching eyeball, which, sometimes, I feel is the new look for me; frazzled. As I try to figure out maximum heart rates, leg cramps, nutrition, rests days, breathing techniques, and most recently bike mechanics, I am oftentimes feeling lost in a sea of knowledge that floats in and out of my brain.
Then there are my running woes. It’s got the point where I am convinced that I’m going backwards. The fact of the matter is I’ve never been a long distance runner. In high school I ran the 100, 200 and 400 metre events because my body was designed for short bursts of speed, not endurance. You look at most long distance runners and they are built like twigs. I am built like a linebacker. The more mass you have to shuffle along, the more difficult it becomes. I know the importance of building your base first, and then working on speed, but I am impatient, expect perfection, and I want to be better, stronger, and faster now. Everyone just keeps telling me to give it time. I guess these are the times to look at the positives. I am improving with my swimming, my cycling times are getting faster, and my legs are stronger. The improvements are small, but until I start rolling backwards, I am going forwards, and with one foot in front of the other, even if it’s on par with the world’s slowest turtle, I am still on the road to one hundred forty point six miles.

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