Yesterday I joined my TryFitness teammates in a bicycle climb up Tantalus on Oahu. Here’s a map on my Garmin site: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/332302837. I have had many friends who ride their bikes up Tantalus. It’s a big ride. And while I can be a flaming speed demon coming down hills, this ride — because of the twists and turns, the constant drizzles, breezes, dampness, and roads slick with leaves — requires a slow and careful descent. My forearms were screaming by the time I got to the bottom, feathering my brakes all the way down to stay safe and keep from falling.
When the dozen or so of us launch, we tend to thin into a string of cyclists that might even appear unconnected to the few Sunday morning drivers out up there. Somehow I ended up behind Gwen and it turned out to be a great ride for me. Gwen had been up Tantalus before so she would let me know what was around the bend. I have no idea if she could hear my heavy breathing. I couldn’t hear hers, so I was certain my struggle was apparent to everything around us. There was a constant drizzle, the wind blew, and a steady trickle of precipitation seeped through my helmet, into my hair, and down my back. My sunglasses protected me from the rain, but they could have used little wipers. I spotted Shama thrushes, deeply inhaled eucalyptus, and marveled at the lushness of the trees, the vines, the bamboo and wild ginger.
Gwen told me when we had a bit of a flat around the next hairpin, and where she saw a dead wild pig before. At one point my derailer was getting noisy, so we got off at a pullout and ran through the gears until all was well again. It worked. Our coach Jules checked up on us from her roving red truck and appeared at the perfect moment when I pedaled up a steep incline to a STOP sign and managed to get up on the next road without shattering my bones, a constant fear since I have osteoporosis. Prior to our launch, Coach Sonya said that when we reached the top we should throw a fist pump into the air because of our accomplishment. You can bet I did.
While steadily pedaling up the course, I remembered the words we heard at Honu, the 70.3 Ironman Triathlon I had done earlier this month: YOU CHOSE TO DO THIS. It is an interesting thing to talk yourself out of giving up and getting off the bike to rest for five minutes. It is an interesting inner conversation to tell yourself not to. I reminded myself that there were those two times when I gave birth without drugs. You cannot tell the nurses and the husband whose hand you are tightly squeezing that you want to take a five minute break. There are no breaks! If I could go through labor and give birth without any breaks or comforting drugs, well I sure as heck can stay on my bike. The ride was less than five miles! I knew I could woman up if I needed to, so I did.
The ride back down was rather intense, and I have to say feathering breaks down an incline that twists and turns is no easy feat. Now I know why we do those gawd-awful planks at our workouts. If it weren’t for planks, which I know are really all about our core fitness, my arms would be jelly by the time I’d get to the bottom of some of these hills.
Oh! And Saturday was my first North Shore Swim Series swim. Three more to go. Plus the Duke. Plus the Waikiki Roughwater. Not bad. Stats: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/331700521.