Confession – I’m still a NEWB!

I was listening to the podcast last week – #12. Al was discussing his “It’s Girl Thing” women’s bike clinic he is giving, focusing on women riders who needed to learn basic bike skills. I listened to the list and thought, “Boy, that would be a great clinic to offer to us girls out here [in Georgia] .”

Sure, I’ve learned a great deal since I started riding in ’08. I learned about bike types, parts, basic bike maintenance, and even learned a bunch of “bike lingo”. Furthermore, I’ve learned how keeping my cadence high saves my muscles and keeping my upper body quiet saves energy. Of course, I learned boat loads about my endurance and much more. Mostly, I learned about myself, and that particular learning path still continues. However, I realized as I listened that I’m still a freakin’ newb with regards to some of my skills on the bike.

Here’s what he said the clinic would cover: clipping in and clipping out; gear shifting; riding next to somebody; going uphill out of the saddle; braking; cornering; grabbing the water bottle; descending.

Sure, I’ve “got” clipping in and out, gear shifting [LOL some of my “lessons” are fodder for a post at some later date] , descending, etc. Even though I’m not a “pro” at riding next to somebody or braking, I’m “good” for now.

However, I need help with cornering, coming out of my saddle on an uphill, grabbing my water bottle…and heck (even though he didn’t mention this skill), I detest taking my right hand off my handlebars to give hand signals or point to dangers in the road, too. (My left hand, sure…my right hand – uh uh. Nope, not doing it. Not yet.)

WRT to cornering and coming out of the saddle, these two skills kind of freak me out b/c it involves my bike moving underneath me in such a way that’s not in an upright position. Having 4 falls [*achem* see “clipping in/out” lesson] in the past couple of years (complete with bruises bigger than my entire hand) and a nasty crash when I was 17 (from which you can still see some of the scars), I’m freaked out when my bike goes in any direction but straight underneath me.

What’s really weird is that I have actually done this once (coming out of my saddle to climb). It was on a short, steep hill, and it was the first time I rode my current bike. I still remember coming out of the saddle and fluidly pedaling up the hill. I did it without even thinking. My hubby (and riding buddy) was thrilled to see me do it so quickly. I haven’t done it, since.

I tried another time, and my bike wobbled so much, I thought I was going to fall. I quickly sat down and I’ve had super glue on my butt ever since. Okay, okay that’s not entirely true. What I will do, this season, is come up a tad (but imperceptibly to another rider)–maybe a half inch or an inch–and use the torque I get from doing that to transfer more power down to my legs. …But come up all the way? Uhhhhh…no. (Still got my chicken wings on. Prawk, prawk, prawk!!!)

*sigh* So, I guess, here, what I’m really working on is not so much the skill but my fears, instead. Maybe I just need to…Think…LESS, since I did it without thinking the first time. (Gosh, that one would probably solve a lot of my problems, including ones not even on the bike. Too bad, that isn’t as easy to apply as it is to write.)

Frankly, my fears are what play into my difficulty with reaching for my water bottle from the cage below, too.

In my defense on this one though, I was using a camelback from 2008 until this past May when I switched to using my cages. So, I’m a stark newb working on this skill. When I’m on a flat or a slight downhill with a steady rolling pace in a quiet area, I will reach down to grab my bottle. I have, indeed, successfully drank out of it while rolling and gingerly put it back a few times. I just need more practice. Once again though, I’ll only do this with my left hand, not my right.

Sheez if I take my right hand off, it’s as if I suddenly put a 20lb weight on one side of my bike. I start wobbling like a kicked weeble. Remember those toys? Except I DO fall down…and I would like to avoid that, thank you very much! So, it would be nice to have a coach work with me on that.

Hey Al, you ever want to come on out to Atlanta? I know some other women besides myself who could use to brush up on this stuff, too. Maybe you should franchise this out. …or maybe I’ll get going with these skills and franchise this stuff, myself! Who knows!


  • rapunzel


    Thanks so much for taking the time to reply. Your comment on “slapping the vein” for more endorphins made me laugh.

    Anyway, yes, I believe I’ve worked through the funk. I am looking forward to do some other things. I’m even going to give (gasp!) jogging a shot. I’ve never been a runner. I’ve tried in the past and had abysmal failures at the endeavor. I had resigned myself to the fact that my body is not and never would be a runner. Well…this time, I’m getting my 12yo son out with me. We’ll both give this another effort (and more patience) and see how we do. I’ve seen so many new riders that came from running start out really fast on the bike. Surely then, it can do something for me? Then again…maybe my body’s frame isn’t right for running. I don’t want new injuries. (Anyone have any tips on jogging/running?) Hmmmm… We’ll see.

    There’s something else coming up, now. In fact, I just put up a new blog post on this one. (I’m curious, now, how many people have felt this one.)

    Again, thanks for your time. I’m so you must be so busy! …and many thanks for giving me that percentage. A quick question: the 1%…does that refer to of all the people who do cycling, only 1% have completed 100 or more miles? Or does that refer to a wider group of people who exercise and the level/length at which they’ve worked/gone/etc.? (As I re-read this, I realize maybe it’s both and have therefore answered my own question.)

    TheologyGeek, Are you able to remember what you experienced after your last century all those years ago? Maybe going back in time through your memories will also help you get through whatever “funk” might arise after the one you do in 3 weeks. (Hopefully, you’ll not experience any bit of funk.) Keep us posted on your century endeavor! (Did you join the Century Riders group, yet?)

    As for learning about what it takes to complete a century, I have to say that I’m still learning. In fact, I had a pretty good lesson on Saturday. (Yep, that’s yet another blog post in the works.) I know what I learned (both on my century ride and this past Saturday) will help me to complete another century, soon. I’m looking forward to it!

  • rapunzel

    Plochman, You’re right – I remember reading a few years ago about men and women having different centers of gravity. I will have to work up some bravery, again and try it by shifting forward. I got an offline suggestion for trying this in a cut grass field or big lawn. (Maybe I can sneak on a sleepy golf course – har…no not really, but it would be ideal.) This way if I fall while trying this and some of the other skills that I won’t get hurt as much as I have on pavement.

    Al – good suggestions. I will have to try them out…I’m thinking the single leg/arm pedaling will be really interesting. And I’ll look up the DVD’s, too. Thanks!

    Jeff – LMK if it happens!

    Josh – again, LMK if you get one together with the roadie women’s team. I’m guessing we could have a great attendance b/t your contacts and mine. Also…who knows…maybe I’ll end up getting a MTB at some point in the next few months [hey…it *could* happen, despite my initial reservations about mountain biking] and be able to attend that MTB skill clinic. It would seem that learning MTB skills would greatly enhance my road biking, anyway – yes? It’d be a real plus to get proficient with the above mentioned skills, too.

    Thanks all for your responses. I’ll keep you posted every so often how I’m doing. :)