When finally a day worked out for some of us to get together to do some cycling, the weather hits a high of 30C. I went out in the backyard to cut out some herbs from my garden in the afternoon, and beads of sweat started rolling down my face after a mere ten minutes. I could feel the heat on every inch of my exposed skin, and I wondered how my first long bike ride would fair.
I made a quick text, "Good idea to ride in this heat?".
Got a reply back, "We'll be fine."
So, with the reassurance, I was pumped and ready. All you have to be is prepared. Sunscreen. Fluids. And willingness. I threw my bike into the car and drove it to meet up with my friends.
I gotta say... there is no one better than Ray to start your cycling journey with. He was a teacher, a coach, a motivator, and a tour guide. He knows all the routes in the city pretty well (as he rides everyday), so he picked what he thought was best for a beginner like me. It was relatively flat. (Yeah, relatively doesn't mean completely). Made us do some warm-up riding before we hit our route, then we were off.
He lead the way since none of us knew where we were going. Yet, would fall behind to make sure that each and every one of us were hanging in there. Made appropriate water breaks. Gave us enough heads up for what was coming ahead (hills, gravel, cars and potholes), and was a great motivator when we didn't believe we could (telling us we can totally do it workin' up a hill). And on top of all that, he gave us random knowledge and facts about the places we rode by. All the positivity and encouragement and fun facts made the ride pretty awesome.
Little did I know... we ended up cycling 27km in 2 hours 35 minutes with three two-minute water break and a five-minute water break halfway. Now, since I probably haven't been on a bike since I was in highschool (renting a bike to go around Stanley Park), it was one good feat for me.
I honestly was looking for something far more leisure for my first ride. Cruising pace. One hour tops. But it wasn't and I'm glad. When I saw a steeper hill come up and I was already tiring out, I felt a loom of dread over me as I approached it. Shifting down to a low gear helped, but it was still quite a trek. One thing I learn is, there is also another "gear" inside of me to shift. It's really all mental. Switching my "oh gosh, this is tough. am I gonna make it?" thoughts and channeling it like I did running, it instantly gets so much easier. "How did you run... remember how you did it... just find a rhythm and keep at it and you'll make it. At least when you're running, this pounding goes on forever until you stop. But with cycling, you just gotta make it to the top of this hill, and then you're gonna cruise."
So I didn't stop.
The only one time that I had to stop and get off my bike was when I somehow slipped on gravel. Didn't even see it coming. One second I was riding, the next second, my bike was no longer vertical. I managed to jump off before an actual fall. And all was good.
It was great seeing Sharon again. I haven't seen her in years. We met through dragonboating, and then went on an Asia trip together afterwards. Kept in touch through facebook. And years later, we're now cycling. It felt like I had just seen her last week at dragonboat practice. Some people you share great memories with seems to always have a place in you. It isn't just Sharon. Unexpectedly, I've got to hang out with some of the old dragonboat crew lately... just seeing them again brings back such a great feeling of comfort.
Ahh, this is definitely a brain fart post. Just one of those posts you randomly read again in the future and think... this totally makes me happy. Soaking in sunscreen and sweat in 30C weather sportin' a funky sunglasses tan. My kind of day.