“Great,” Traci says, as we drop our bikes in her driveway and do a couple of quick stretches before starting our 3-mile run. “We’re covered in bugs!“
“We are?” I hadn’t noticed any bugs on our 10-mile bike ride, other than the one that flew in Traci’s mouth as she was yakking. But as I push against the van and look down at my ankle, I see that there is, in fact, a bug embedded in my sock.
“That‘s what happens when you go biking,” Traci shrugs, once again amazed at my ignorance.
The last time I rode a bike with any regularity, our high school senior was strapped in a seat on the back. And that bike, an aged Schwinn Cruiser now awaiting rehab in the garage, only had one gear.
As we headed out on our first attempt at a triathlon training “brick” — a biking session followed by a run — Traci gave me a quick refresher course on changing gears. Even steering was trickier than I remembered.
Eventually, though, I did remember that you never forget how to ride a bike. And it was fun to be moving along a slight variation on our 10-mile running course at a much faster clip.
It was also hard work at times. It’s funny how it took a triathlon to get me back on a bike. I think I always equated bike riding with recreation, the two-wheeled equivalent of a leisurely stroll. I knew it was possible to get a serious workout on wheels, but it didn’t really register in my brain until I found myself trying to keep up with my little sister.
Still, it wasn’t completely clear how much effort we’d expended until we ditched our bikes in her driveway and then attempted to run.
“You won’t believe how weird your legs feel,” my friend Tinea had told me earlier in the week.
She was right. Only it wasn’t just our legs. Even our feet felt odd — like they’d changed shape slightly. We’re probably lucky we didn’t fall.
Eventually our muscles loosened up to the point that we felt merely tired. Even though we were just going three miles, I was never so happy to see the carved wooden bear statue that marked our turnaround. I felt like giving it a hug.
We took our time heading back, slogging up the hill — OK, a slight incline — toward Traci’s house. Knowing we were going to make it but not in any particular hurry.
And then, as we pulled into the driveway, tired as we were, the thrill of a completely new training adventure began to sink in. We couldn’t wait to do it again.