NEW GOAL: Join a Bike-Riding Group
The biking culture and prevalence of “shop rides” were both major bonuses fo me when I first moved to Austin, Texas, last year. Although, full disclosure here, I had never even heard the term “shop ride” until I read this month’s feature on them in Bicycling Magazine about ten hours ago. Now I’m just dropping the lingo to sound insider-ish. shoprideshoprideshopride. Ultimately I would love to give a go at a triathlon, but that’s the big picture. Right now I’m focusing on improving my running (as you know, I’m doing the 5K EVERYDAY), and also my cycling. As you also know, I really love biking, but I’ve only ever done it just for fun and haven’t been committed at all to any kind of performance standard. With the running, once I set a goal it was easy to stick to the program. With biking though, I don’t think I’ll be as successful running my own one-blob-show. I think I need a posse.
NEW OBSTACLE: Intimidated by the Bike-Riding Groups
For a long time I have really wanted to get in with a regular riding group. The problem has been that it seems anyone committed to riding a bike more often than when they are just too drunk to drive seems to be an all-out, pedal-weight-measuring, Schleck-worshipping, uphill-at-20MPH, style riders, and I’m just not there. From my cursory scan of the cycling landscape here in Austin, I have found two shop rides on my own. Incidentally, they were also both listed as America’s Best by Bicycling Magazine: (1) Mellow Johnny; and (2) Jack and Adam’s.
Mellow Johnny’s is a bike shop. In Austin. OWNED BY LANCE (faint) ARMSTRONG. Now, it may or may not be relevant to you to know that there has been some disagreement over the celebu-cyclist here in town. I happen to really admire the guy, but I honestly think that’s neither here nor there. Aside from the unadulterated Lance-iness of going on a Mellow Johnny’s shop ride (shoprideshopride), the place doesn’t really scream, “Hey, beginner! Get your blob in here for a ride!” I mean, I was feeling pretty high on myself upping my average speed from 11 to 12 MPH this summer. But take a look at the Mellow Johnny’s schedule. There doesn’t seem to be anything averaging under 14MPH and two hours. I guess I’m not quite Mellow yet.
Jack and Adam’s is no mere bike shop. It’s a triathlon shop. I found out about this place by parking off the main road near my favorite running route. Unbeknownst to me, that’s not just a place to park off the main road near my favorite running route; it’s really the place to park if you’re a badass triathlete looking for a place to quickly transition from your weekly trillion-mile bike ride to your twice-weekly quarter-million-mile running-from-a-felon-with-a-Glock-paced run. For a while, I even thought the 70.3 stickers everyone had were parking passes for the place. Ha. If you’ve never felt like a total loser sub-par wannabe, just park there with me next time for a 5-mile-glacial-paced “run.” I guess I don’t quite cut the mustard at Jack and Adam’s, either.
NEW RESOLVE: Starting Slow
So, at the peril of sounding cheesy, overly-optimistic, and naive by ending yet another post on a Pollyanna Point of Positivity (gag, I know.), the only way to start toward the goal of bike riding in groups, improving at bike riding, and eventually getting into triathlons, is to really just start already. Here are two things I’ve found that don’t sound totally freaky, and that may actually move me in the right direction:
Monthly Women’s Bike Maintenance Class: Ok, before you come unglued all over me about how the last thing a nerdy class-bound blob like me needs is more classes, hear me out on this one. This monthly clinic is offered at Mellow Johnny’s. I’m thinking that this will at least get me through the door, and they’ll know from the mere fact that I’m in Basics of Drive Train Maintenance that I’m no all-out, pedal-weight-measuring, Schleck-worshipping, uphill-at-20MPH type of gal. Maybe I’ll meet some people, maybe I’ll hear about some remedial rides, and at least I’ll learn what to call that thingy when I’m at the bike shop for my annual tune-up.
Meetup.com: Not just for biking, this site is pretty great for anyone trying to break into anything that involves other people. A friend turned me on to the Austin Cycling section of this site, where people invite and RSVP to all levels of rides all around town. There’s one this Sunday. (Wait – I know I said I wanted to just get started on this thing, but THIS Sunday. . . ?) The Sunday ride is sponsored by Jack and Adam’s and includes two routes of either 15 or 30 miles, includes a “no drop” policy (That’s biking lingo for “Blobs Welcome.”), and a half-priced brunch with live music at a cool restaurant at the end of the ride (Hold up! Brunch?!? I’m there.).
So if I actually stick to it and get on board with these two things, I’ll be making two tiny pedal turns in the right direction. Two tiny pedal turns for Blob, two major steps for intimidated cycling enthusiasts everywhere.