While not my exact bike growing up, I recall having something similar to this.
Sometimes, quit literally, taking a ride down memory lane is helpful to remind us of how far we have come.
This past week I had to change from my normal riding routes and choose a different one. Thursday, due to a schedule change late in the week, I had to be at Riverside most of the day for work and work related meetings. I had a bike ride on my schedule and not alot of time to do it unless I wanted to get up at 4am and ride the trainer, which I didn't. So I opted to bring my bike with me and ride the Olentangy Trail, as I wouldn't have time to really do much else. I normally avoid the Trail on my bike because it is busy, it is twisty, and I have to be more aware of all the other people on the trail, resulting in a slower ride. I also hate looking like a Lance wannabe and being that cyclist that should be on the road instead. So late in the afternoon, between work meetings, I headed out on the trail for a 1.5 hour ride. I started South first and as I got to certain sections I started remembering back to when, as an adult, I purchased my first bike, which also eventually led to my first venture into the world of duathlon and multisport.
Many people have asked me how long I have been doing triathlons and how I got started. To be honest, I am not really sure exactly when I did my first triathlon, but I very distinctly remember my first duathlon. Up to that point in my life I had mostly been a soccer player. I played in gradeschool, highschool, intramurals in college, and then rec league after college. In fact for the first 7-8 years after college I kept busy playing soccer, flag football, and volleyball almost every night of the week. I actually hated running in general and played these sports (instead) to keep fit. In fact I used to hate running so much, I actually quit playing soccer my senior year of highschool because I didn't want to do the conditioning. Fast forward to 2001. I met a boy and fell in love. At least for a short while. And while that relationship didn't last, his passion for triathlon and the bike, especially the bike, has stuck with me. You see this guy was a cyclist, he took amazing trips out to Colorado and Montana every year and rode the moutains for a week at a time. He also had just started getting into triathlon. So when I met him, he spent alot of time running and biking. Both of these things honestly bored me to tears at first. But, as I spent more time with him, I also realized that I probably needed to try these things in order to spend more time with him and have something in common. So I tackled running first (it was cheaper). I had done the Komen 5k before, but walked part of it. This time, I wanted to run a whole 5k. And he helped me to train for my "first" 5k. It was miserable. The race was on a weekend in early April. So of course, it was about 40 degrees and raining. And I ran in cotton sweat pants, cotton long sleeve shirt, and some sort of pullover GAP jacket. I remember being completely out of breath and wondering when the hell this race was going to get over. And this boy stayed with me, and told me, in another few miles. A few miles? Hadn't we come that far already? No. Only 1 mile. I was freezing, out of breath, and miserable, but I kept running. And eventually finished. And completely underwhelmed, decided maybe a bike would be better...
That summer he introduced me to the Tour de France and Lance Armstrong. I thought it was boring. But, this was before DVR and he was glued to the tv. Everyday. So to spend time with him. I too was glued to the t.v. And by the end of the race I loved Lance Armstrong and the battle to the finish. And maybe, just maybe, the bike was a little cool too. So the boy convinced me to go buy a bike. We went to the Bikesource in Clintonville. And I bought a comfort/hybrid bike. And I couldn't believe how much money I was spending on this thing. I am pretty sure it cost somewhere in the ballpark of $250-$300!!
Although not my exact bike, my first adult bike was pretty similar to this.
So after that we started going out on the Olentangy Trail as he taught me how to ride again and learn some of the concepts of gearing. I still remember the first time I rode 10 miles! I felt like I had come so far and it was so hard for me, but such a sense of accomplishment! It was that time that I remembered Thursday on my ride. And it really did make me realize how far I have come since that time. I rode around 25 miles on Thursday on those same trails and it probably took me only a little longer to do that than the 10 miles I rode so many years ago! And some of the little hills that are on the trail now...I recall thinking the 161 bridge felt like a mountain! Not so much these days.
So that summer was also when this boy started talking about duathlons and triathlons. And although he didn't do one that year, he had picked out a few that he wanted to train for in the following year. Shortly after this we broke up. But he had planted the seed and for some reason the idea of doing a duathlon really intrigued me. I had done a 5 k and I could bike 10 miles. So I looked for a race that would combine the 2 of these distances. And I found one!
The Olentangy Duathlon was in May of 2004. This gave me time to get out and train some in the spring before the race. It was a 2 mile run, a 11.5 mile bike, and a 2 mile run out of the Olentangy Caverns. That morning I woke up and it was in the low 50s, it was raining, and there were 15-20 mph winds. My mom, dad, and my two best friends went with me to the race. I remember walking up to the transition area to drop off my bike and my dad asking me if I was going to lock up my bike. Why? I remember asking him. Well, "aren't you worried someone is going to steal it?" I still laugh thinking about that. No, I told him, and pointed to another bike, that one is way better than mine and I am pretty sure someone would steal that one first! Pretty sure it was also the winner. The run was pretty good, out and back from the caverns, mostly uphill on the way out, but then you turn around and run down the hill, so that was fun. The bike was difficult for me. Not at first because I had a tailwind and it was somewhat downhill towards 315. Then we were on 315, which is fun on your bike. Then we turned into a neighborhood that went uphill. And yes, I was riding my $250 comfort bike. And getting mad. EVERYONE was passing me. And they hardly looked like they had to put forth any effort. The fat guys, the old guys, and it was pissing me off. We finally made it out of the neighborhood. And as we were turning out of the neighborhood, I took my water bottle out and was taking a drink out of it when I hit the headwind. I almost got knocked off my bike. And rather than put my waterbottle back in its cage, I threw it into the ditch on the side of the road. And I had a deathgrip on those bike handles the rest of the ride. You see, riding on the trail, most of the winds are blocked and you are somewhat protected. I had never ridden in something like this before. And it was really hard. And I am pretty sure my heartrate was near its max effort. And I remember having a long talk with God along this stretch of the road. Actually I think I was pleading with God..."God I promise, if I get through this race, I will make a better effort to go to church..." or something along those lines. And I eventually got through the bike and back to transition in one piece. The second run was harder and I was much slower. But I made it. And my drenched family and friends were there at the finish to cheer me on as I crossed that finish line. And I was so proud of myself that day. I had never done anything that hard in my life and I was absolutely elated that I had been able to train and do that race that day. And I knew eventually, I would do another one someday.
Over the next year I met another boy. And fell in love. And he was a soccer player, long distance runner, and triathlete. It was through him that my biking skills were able to improve more and I was able to get a better bike. One of his training partner's wife was in the process of getting a new road bike so I inherited one from her. It was a little too small for me, but it allowed me to really feel the difference a road bike made and decide if cycling and multisport was truely something I wanted to continue to do. What a difference the road bike made for me! I could really feel how much easier it was to ride and with much less effort. And I still had regular old pedals on there...too scared to try clip in shoes. So the next year I did the Olentangy Duathlon again. I don't have alot of memories from that one, but I remember it being much easier.
In 2005 I watched my first Ironman. My boyfriend at the time, his brother, and one of their friends all did Ironman Arizona. I went out and spectated the whole day. And I was completely fascinated and in awe of all of the athletes that day. I saw people of all shapes and sizes out there. I watched an 80 year old man cross the finishline 10 minutes before an 18 yo kid. I saw a man that looked to be at least 300 lbs finish that race. And everyone we cheered for finished as well. I definately fell more in love with this boy after that race, completely dumbfounded by what he did that day. That is also when my love of triathlon really started. I can still hear Mike Riley's voice, very clearly announcing "You are an Ironman" as all the racers crossed the finishline. After we returned home to Columbus I remember someone asking me if I wanted to do the Ironman race now? "I would never do that!" I answered. "That is crazy!" Famous last words.
I really didn't have confidence that I could do something like an Ironman (or even a simple triathlon at that point) but I did start to think about what I was currently doing, and I felt I could do more. So with the help of some friends, I signed up and did my first half marathon that year. And that internal sense of accomplishment and pride in what I could do kept growing. And I kept running and did another half marathon that spring. And each race I did and all of the training kept improving my self confidence. In the fall of 2006 my training buddies decided they didn't want to train anymore. And I was really lonely and realized how hard it was to train without them. And that is when I found MIT and started training with them. And it truely did change my life and that is when I actually started to truely enjoy running. And with the help of my MIT friends, I did my first marathon in 2007. Talk about a sense of accomplishment! And my self confidence grew by leaps and bounds. I wasn't very fast, but I could run a marathon!!!
I also upgraded my bike that year. I finally decided that the hand me down wouldn't do it anymore. I needed something faster and more my size if I was going to ride longer than 25 miles...
My trusty road bike. Love this thing. Aluminum frame, carbon parts. Eventually I added arrow bars as well.
By 2008 I had several half marathons and triathlons under my belt by the end of the year. I also had watched a loved one pass away from cancer, a close friend was diagnosed with lymphoma, and my dad's Parkinsons disease seemed to be progressing more. In Novemeber of that year, I found myself back in Arizona. Spectating for another friend at the Ironman. And that year I saw an amputee doing the race. And as I sat there watching the race and thinking about the people there doing the race and thinking about my friends and family who couldn't do these things for various reasons, a thought occured to me. What was stopping me from doing this? I had two good legs. I had done a marathon. I had done several triathlons. It was fear that was stopping me. And a crazy idea popped into my head. I could do this. Or at least I needed to try. And the next morning before I could change my mind, I signed up for the race. "Holy shit!" was the first thing that I remember thinking when I signed up. What was I thinking? But it was good shit. Because I trained hard. And I did that race. And in 2009, in Arizona, I heard "Ann Kurtenbach, you are an Ironman" announced by Mike Riley!!
So, as I rode my bike around the Olentangy Trail this past week, I started remembering all these things. And I cannot believe how far I have come from that girl that hated running along those trails all those years ago, as she practiced soccer for the Watterson Eagles. To the girl that was elated with the 10 miles on the bike. To the girl who is now training for her 3rd Ironman. I have told people before, but I truely believe that if I have been able to accomplish all these things, I think anyone can. You just have to have the confidence to trust in yourself. And believe in yourself. And be willing to push through some discomfort. And you will get there.
My newest bike purchase this year! Love my Shiv!