Training


Just cruisin' along...

Just cruisin’ along…

When’s the moment when you know you’re really hooked? When do you realize you’re a goner, a smitten kitten, a hopeless addict of shameless proportions? When’s the instant when you fall in love?

Nope, I’m not talking about my partner, as wonderful and amazing a fellow as he is. I’m talking about my other lover, my brilliant discovery, my dazzling summer fling I can’t get enough of: my bike.

It’s hard to fathom that in May, just a few months ago, I could barely ride 2 miles. I was timid and had little idea what I was doing. And yet since then, I’ve biked maybe around 1,500 miles in an attempt to get in shape for my upcoming 300-mile 5-day charity ride. (I leave tomorrow!)

Totally-drenched-in-the-rain selfie. Still smiling, 'cause I'm smitten!

Totally-drenched-in-the-rain selfie. Still smiling, ’cause I’m smitten!

It’s been a long, challenging, and exciting summer, to say the least. And no, it hasn’t been all roses and cupcakes and rainbow kittens. I’ve fallen down a few times (and I just may have this gnarly new scar on my elbow for life) – sometimes about as awkwardly as possible in front of other people. I got miserably drenched in rainstorms. Once, early on, I saw my friend get hit by car right in front of me. (She was ok, luckily!) I’ve broken down mid-ride, 30 miles from home and not sure I could make it back, and just cried. There was a week where I couldn’t even turn my neck, I had strained it so badly. I earned more bruises than I can count.

But still, somehow, somewhere in the middle there, it snuck up on me. I fell in love.

Of course, for people or for modes of transportation, love rarely hits light like a lightning bolt. It’s more a series of small transformations that all add up to that inevitable realization that, well, yep. There’s no going back now. And I wouldn’t want to if I could.

It’s not just one moment. It’s probably a thousand moments. If you’re a cyclist, you probably have a long list of your own. Here’s some of mine:

1. The moment when I finally conquered that hill.

Oh, hills. You scamps. You brutal, cruel teases. I am still terrible at climbing you, hills. But I’m better than I was. I remember I rode on one trail early on and felt like my chest was bursting and I couldn’t go on, so I got off my bike and walked it. A dozen cyclists passed me and I marveled at how they could possibly do it.

A month later, I was one of them. I found myself back on that same hill, and I rode up it non-stop feeling like a Tour de France champion. I learned that feeling of deep satisfaction that comes after the pain.

2. …And then the moment when I flew back down it.

Not sure who first created this one, but, yep!

Not sure who first created this one, but, yep!

There’s nothing like soaring downhill that makes you feel like you’re the luckiest 8-year old in the world again. When the wind soars through your hair and the scenery zooms by and the rush of 10% terror and 90% joy fills you to the brim. It’s especially awesome when it’s a big hill that you already suffered the climb up. You feel like you really earned that descent, and it’s glorious.

3. The moment when I got my first flat tire, and 15 cyclists stopped and asked if I needed help.

Before I rode regularly, cyclists were these mysterious, ethereal creatures to me. They were incomprehensibly athletic. They seemed uncannily comfortable in Lycra. And then of course I found out they’re just ordinary people, surprise surprise. Except, they’re ordinary people with an extraordinary sense of community.

From the unfailingly wonderful Women & Bicycles Facebook group that answers all my questions with enthusiasm and mutual support and joins me for rides, to the dozen+ cyclists who offered their help when I had a flat tire and was attempting to fix it myself, to the phenomenal folks at my local bike shop who also answer all my questions enthusiastically (yes, I have a lot of questions)… it’s been so warm and fuzzy and awesome.

Sure, sometimes I’ll run into a jerk out on a trail. But sometimes you run into a jerk any day, anywhere. On the whole, bike people are seriously good people.

4. The moment when I soared past cars stuck in traffic in the bike lane on my commute.

Oh hello there, cars. Look at you, just sitting there. I used to be you, once. But now here I am in my work clothes, just pedaling along in the bike lane at a very moderate pace, and you’re still stuck fuming at that stop sign because you can’t go forward. I remember that fume. I wouldn’t trade places with you for the world, cars. Ok, gotta go. Smell ya later!

5. The moment(s) when I went further than I’d ever been – and then I went even further.

Mile marker 17.5, the furthest I’ve ever been on the W&OD trail – a 55-mile round trip for me. It goes all the way to mile marker 44. Someday, I will see it!

Mile marker 17.5, the furthest I’ve ever been on the W&OD trail – a 55-mile round trip for me. It goes all the way to mile marker 44. Someday, I will see it!

Sometimes, falling in love with my bike at age 30 makes me feel like an 8 year old – and then sometimes, it makes me feel like I’m 16 again, waiting in line at the DMV on my birthday for my long-awaited freedom, aka my driver’s license. I used to love to drive so much, you have no idea. Gas was cheap then, and either alone or with friends, I would cruise around for hours, taking random turns, exploring the countryside, and just enjoying, for the first time, that sweet taste of independence and adventure.

I pretty much hate driving these days, for lots of reasons, but biking is totally different. Biking brings all the adventure and exploration with none of the baggage. And then there’s the challenge of long distance riding – of pushing yourself past what seems like your limit and then going further… brilliant. Addicting. Wonderful.

6. The moment when I discovered that food is fuel.

In the cycling world, there’s a phenomenon they call bonking – when you just completely and utterly run out of energy, and all the fight in you dies, and you just want to crawl into a hole and never come out again, and yeah, it’s pretty much the worst. It happened to me once.

And then I started eating more, before and during my rides. And then I started paying attention to what kinds of food I was eating. And then I realized that food isn’t just delicious stuff I enjoy consuming regularly and take for granted more than I should; it’s literally fuel. I need it to keep moving. It gives me strength. It gets me where I want to go, and it gets me home.

7. The moment when I conquered my fear of city cycling and proudly took up the whole lane.

Yep.

Yep.

It seems forever ago, but the first time I tried to bike in the city, I was so intimidated by the city streets in my super-quiet, residential neighborhood that I rode on the sidewalk. (I’ve since learned that isn’t actually safer…). Then, I’d only ride in this quiet neighborhood on streets with bike lanes only, and only not during rush hour, and only during daylight.

But eventually, and in part thanks to an awesome ride I did with some experienced lady city cyclists once, I gained so much more confidence. Now, even if I’m by myself, I’ll take the whole lane if I need to. (It’s legal, and often safer than hugging the shoulder.) With my bike decked out with flashy lights, I’ll bike at night if I need to. And I get this thrill when I hop across town from one end of the city to the other on a bike – it’s like a whole new world has been opened up to me.

Suddenly I can easily access places in the city that I never could before (or not without multiple transit transfers, etc.). And I feel like I’ve gotten to know it so much better in even just a few months. What’s not to love?

8. The moment when a local newspaper columnist tried to kill me.

Ok, no, not really. But right around the time when I was becoming a dedicated daily cyclist, columnist Courtland Milloy wrote a ridiculous tirade against rude cyclists – or “bike terrorists” – who he claimed aggressively hog the roads and routinely ruin the days of decent, respectable drivers. His infamous quote: “It’s a $500 fine for a motorist to hit a bicyclist in the District, but some behaviors are so egregious that some drivers might think it’s worth paying the fine.”

It was hilarious and appalling at the same time. But the reason I’m mentioning it here is because the aftermath gave me a new glimpse at just how dedicated DC’s cycling advocates are. They wrote eloquent responses, they staged a last-minute protest in front of the Washington Post, they started sporting ironic “bike terrorist” t-shirts – one excellent group even got Milloy on a bike and took him on a tour to see life on “the other side.”

In other words, I learned a lot more about the work organizations like WABA and others are doing to get more and more people to fall in love with bikes and to make the city a friendlier and easier place for us to ride. So, instead of feeling threatened by that silly ol’ column, I ended up feeling safer – not to mention proud to support such great groups.

9. The moment when I realized I was healthier and stronger than I’d been in years.

Since I’ve started biking, my blood pressure’s down 10 points. I get out of breath much less easily. Where once there was only marshmallow, now there’s mighty muscles in my thighs – and my arms and back are much stronger now than they were before too. When I first started my training, one of my biggest worries was my lower back, because it’s been prone to injury before and always had a sort of low-grade pain whenever I exercised. Between the biking and the stretching after biking, my back hasn’t hurt in months!

I still have a long way to go until I’m in better shape, but I’ve seen so much improvement, it’s nothing but encouraging. And since I’m all in love and whatnot now, I’m not going to stop. It’s just way too cool to feel like superwoman now.

10. The moment when I crossed the finish line on my ride next week.

Ok, ok, I haven’t actually crossed it yet. There’s still 300+ miles between me and it. But I’m using positive visualization to imagine what it’ll be like in my head. And I’m just so excited. I can’t wait.

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Thank you to all my fundraising donors who are making it possible for me to conquer this challenge! Thanks to all my friends for encouraging me, and my family for their constant love and support, even when things were tough.

To follow me and my teammate on our upcoming adventures, you can find us on the Biking for Elephants Facebook page and on Twitter @Bike4Elephants.

And yep! We’re still accepting donations for our cause. Just click the big ol’ orange button below.

Donate Today!

Thanks for reading. Thanks for making this happen. Thanks for everything!

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Elephants actually love that stuck-in-the-mud feeling. Me..? Not so much. (Photo by Clive Reid.)

Elephants actually love that stuck-in-the-mud feeling. Me..? Not so much. (Photo by Clive Reid.)

What does it mean to reach your breaking point? And what does it mean to then… push past it? To defy it? To turn things back around again, when they seem at their worst, and when progress seems impossible?

These are questions I’ve never really asked myself before, but I’m thinking about them a lot lately — both for my training for this challenge, and for the elephant crisis I care about so much, too. Here’s what I’ve learned.

Long-Distance Training Means Flirting With That Point of No Return

Since I’m a new cyclist, and have never trained for a long-distance athletic event before (or taken on a fundraising goal this big before), I was never expecting this process to be easy. But I’ve found it’s been difficult (and rewarding) in ways I didn’t quite expect.

Physically, yeah. It’s been tough! Let’s keep in mind that my previous sport of choice before I signed up for this challenge was Netflix marathoning, heh. But I’m getting stronger every day. And I was prepared for that one.

The surprise for me has really been the mental aspect, as they call it. Every time I’ve pushed myself harder than I have before in training, I’ve found myself getting to this point (usually somewhere between 50-75% of completing my goal) where I’ve come so, so, SO CLOSE to just… giving up.

My first metric century (100 km+) bike ride! It was a fun tour of several major trails around DC.

My first metric century (100 km+) bike ride! It was a fun tour of several major trails around DC.

Take this past Saturday for example. I am super proud to announce that I rode my first Metric Century! Also known as 100 km, or 62+ miles in a day. Yeah!!

(Actually let me take another moment to say, Yeah!!!!!)

The best part of that ride was that I felt totally fine the next day.

The worst part was, that moment, about 50-75% in there, when I almost completely convinced myself that I couldn’t do it.

I was heading north on the Capital Crescent Trail, after having already ridden around say 40 miles at this point. My riding partners (who were awesome, by the way!) had gone on ahead and would be waiting for me at our next meeting spot. It was hot. I was tired. Some big hills on an earlier portion of my ride had made my legs a little wobbly.

And the trail was blissfully shaded, and lined with these gorgeous trees, and these little stretches of lush, green grass… My eyes were drooping… and literally all I could think about was pulling over and lying in the grass and taking a 3-hour nap.

It was so seductive. It was calling to me. I started planning ahead the things I would text my riding partners so they wouldn’t wait for me anymore. I started planning how I’d rationalize it to myself afterwards so I wouldn’t feel guilty. “Maybe you were a little too ambitious. It’s ok. You’ve still made a lot of progress. You can stop now.”

But… then, at the same time, there also was the part of me who said, “Wait a minute, Audre. You’ve been here before.

“Remember that time you were doing that 50 mile ride by yourself, and around mile 35, you had pretty much 99% decided you were going to call Uber to drive you home the rest of the way? You literally had the Uber app open on your phone and you had already calculated what the fare would be.”

“Or, remember that time you did your first 40 miles (seems so long ago!), and you burst into tears halfway through because your head hurt and your back hurt and you were so tired and you thought there was no way you could ever finish this ride, let alone the entire challenge?”

“And then… remember how you were wrong?

Because, yeah. Each time I’ve felt myself reach that breaking point in previous training sessions, I’ve forced myself to keep going.

And the amazing part was, it got better. Almost right away, in fact. If 50-75% of the way through the ride has been my worst, then that last 25% to the finish has been the best. It’s like a smooth sailing dream. Yeah, I’m tired, but mentally, I feel great.

And then the way I feel at the end? When I’ve accomplished something that just a couple hours before, I never thought was possible?

Yeah, you guessed it. It feels AWESOME! It feels like a thousand exclamation points exploding inside my head all at once.

It’s actually kind of addicting, that feeling… Hmm. I might be in trouble…

We just rode more than 60 miles! We are happy! And exhausted!

We just rode more than 60 miles! We are happy! And exhausted!

Ok, So What Does This Have to Do With Elephants, Again?

Well, this has been a tough week in the elephant world, so to speak. A major, reputable study was released this week that confirmed everyone’s worst fears:

More than 100,000 elephants were killed by poachers in the last 3 years alone.

In Central Africa in particular, 64% of its elephant population has been lost in the last 10 years. (At this rate, will there be any left there at all in 10 years?)

Are elephants at their breaking point? (Photo from AWF.org)

Are elephants at their breaking point? (Photo from AWF.org)

In other words, it was just another series of news stories that brought up those horrible numbers that are so huge, and depressing, and frustrating, that they make anyone who cares about elephants get overwhelmed.

It all seems too daunting. You feel powerless. You feel scared. You feel angry, but you feel like things might be too big to change. Like the worst is inevitable, and unstoppable. “Hope,” that magical sweet little bubble floating above you, seems too far away to grasp.

Elephants, as a species, are very close to reaching their breaking point. And it’s a very real risk. We could lose them, like we’ve lost other species before. We humans could very well look back from the not-too-distant future and say, “Elephants are extinct, and we made that happen.”

But the Ending Hasn’t Been Written Yet

Here’s the thing. If my own little cycling training can be a small if imperfect metaphor (and I hope it can), then what I’ve learned is that breaking points aren’t absolute.

What seems inevitable is not necessarily inevitable.

But only if you keep going. Only if you push past those moments of fear, and overwhelming doubt, and exhaustion. Only if you find yourself reaching your limits, and somehow manage to convince yourself that “Nope. Those aren’t my limits. Nice try, limits, but I’ll see ya on the other side. (Suckers).”

Now… How do we do it? I don’t know. It takes passion. It takes a fierce determination. It takes an annoying stubbornness. And it takes a lot of pride.

I see that passion and determination in a lot of the organizations that are rallying to protect our world’s last elephants. (Or really, rallying towards any cause that moves them). One of those is the African Wildlife Foundation, the major beneficiary for our Climate Ride.

AWF_navlogo

But it takes help, too. For me on a personal level, the support (not just donations — although donations are awesome! — but just encouragement and cheerleading and well wishes) from the people in my life helps me when I start getting overwhelmed.

(On my long ride on Saturday, for example, the support of the awesome Women & Bicycles women who joined my training ride really helped keep me going. Thanks again, ladies!)

For organizations like AWF, help means helping them spread their message. Letting people know that you care about what they care about too. Signing the petitions. Sharing the links. Giving them that strength in numbers that helps them change policies and make a difference.

And, Yeah… Donating!

This is one of those cliches that you hear all the time, but hey, it turns out it’s true. Every dollar does make a difference.

Whether you have a lot or a little to give, please chip in to our goals if you can. Fundraising-wise, I’m almost at $2,000 myself and Claudia is at $1,000!

That means we have come a long way towards meeting our goals and being able to participate in the Climate Ride, but we’re not there yet.

Please donate to her or to me, and spread the word. We will be so completely grateful!

Donate Today!

P.S. And if you’re in the Washington DC area next Thursday Aug. 28, come to our Elephant Happy Hour fundraiser! All and any are welcome. See our Facebook event page for details.

fundraiser

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One of the lovely, smooth bike trails in Denver along the Platte River.

One of the lovely, smooth bike trails in Denver along the Platte River.


With a bit more than 6 weeks to go until my big ride (ahhhhhhh!!), you can bet that my training is in full force! I’m getting really psyched about the ride, and I’ve been doing my best to keep my training a priority, even during this busy summer.

For example — last week I had to go to Denver on a work trip. But I didn’t let that slow me down. In the evenings after work I was cross-training in my hotel gym (I found these great, free mobile spinning class mp3s that I used a couple times), and then over the weekend, I rented a bike and explored Denver’s really excellent network of bike trails.

Why Denver Is Both Awesome and Terrible for Biking

Ok, first let me say that Denver is not actually terrible for biking at all. But it was a lot more challenging than I expected! Mostly I wasn’t expecting the altitude to be such a factor.

Denver is deceptively flat — Colorado’s famed huge mountain ranges are far away along the distant horizon — but it’s still at an overall altitude level where I found myself doing that lovely huffin’-and-puffin’ thing way more easily than I was used to. My heart rate was also BA-BOOMing with relatively minimal effort.

It actually felt like some of my early training rides 2 months ago… like I had gone back in time in terms of my level of being in shape. Crazy, right? Made me appreciate again how far I’ve come here in my sea-level training in DC.

Not the best biking selfie ever taken, but... check out the Denver skyline in the back! And I'm smiling on the inside here, I swear.

Not the best biking selfie ever taken, but… check out the Denver skyline in the back! And I’m smiling on the inside here, I swear.


The other thing is it was HOT! Here in DC, I of course complain all the time about the heat and humidity. Denver was blissfully dry on my biggest biking day… but that was challenging too. Fierce, desert-like sun to contend with, and whatnot.

Anyway, I still managed to get in about 40 miles of riding on my rented road bike, so that is awesome!

The best part of biking in Denver is it has some amazing bike trail infrastructure. I rode on two seperate trails — the Platte River trail and the Cherry Creek trail. Both offer smooth, pathed, uninterrupted riding for miles at a stretch, with neat views of the city skyline, the mountains, the river/creek, etc. I loved that.

Wait… What Have I Become?!

Let’s all take a moment to marvel at the fact that this training has turned me into one of those weird active/healthy people who do things like rent bikes on vacations… How amazing is that? I did briefly have one of those “Wait, who are you and what have you done with Audre?” moments. Those are good moments to have.

And it was fantastic. I discovered biking is a great way to get a feel for a new city/new place. I can seriously see myself continuing to do this type of thing, even after this particular training challenge is over. That alone is worth being proud of, I’d say.

What’s Next?

My next big training milestone is to do a 60 mile ride. I’ve got that scheduled for next Saturday and might even have some people I’ve met join me! As always my motto is/will be, “It doesn’t matter how slow you go, as long as you keep going.”

But this weekend there’ll be plenty of riding too, including with my wonderful fundraising team member Claudia.

My biggest goal right now is just to keep building up my endurance over multiple days of riding in a row. I feel like I can handle any single day of long distance riding easy now, which is great. But I need to get my butt, body and bike ready for a whole week of that!

My Training Records So Far

Longest Distance (single day): 50 miles
Longest Distance (over one week): 98 miles

Thanks for supporting me!

I couldn’t do this if I didn’t know I had so many people cheering me on, reading my posts, etc. So thank you!

And an especially huge thank you to everyone who has donated so far to the cause.

Photo by Chase Dekker

My inspiration and motivation! (Photo by Chase Dekker.)

If you haven’t yet, please consider chipping in what you can. I’m getting near my first fundraising milestone, and need to reach certain levels to 1) have my spot secured in the ride, and then 2) participate at all. The funds go towards the cause that has inspired me to take on this challenge to begin with: helping to save our world’s last elephants.

If you love elephants, or biking, or me, please contribute if you can! You can donate online to my goals by clicking this link here. Thank you!

And expect lots of more updates from me soon.

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Meet Dippy! Yes, I named my bike, because I'm a really cool person and whatnot.

Meet Dippy! Yes, I named my bike, because I’m a really cool person and whatnot, etc. etc.

Today, I would like to introduce you to Serendipity (“Dippy” for short) — my brand-new adorable entry-level perfect-for-me road bike.

Serendipity, you know, is the fortunate development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way. The phenomenon of finding valuable things not sought for. Or, you know, just plain ol’ good luck.

For example: Realizing that you really need to get your own bike, and then — magically! — winning one as a prize.

Yep, it’s true. I won a bike! And I got really inspired, too, about cycling in general. Just in time for my Climate Ride training.

Here’s the whole, glorious story.

How I Realized I Needed My Own Bike

Capital Bikeshare <3

Capital Bikeshare <3

When I first started training for this crazy Climate Ride thing at the beginning of May, I didn’t even have a bike yet. Instead, I worked myself up to doing 20-mile rides on Capital Bikeshare bikes (which are awesome, by the way, but are designed for short distances around town and built to withstand a lot of daily abuse…i.e., they’re heavy, man).

Realizing that just wasn’t going to cut it anymore, I borrowed a nice old hybrid from a family member, got it tuned up, and started taking that on longer rides. The difference (in speed, weight, and having more than 3 gears) was mind blowing. That borrowed bike has treated me really well, and has been great for commuting to work and back since I put a back rack on it. (In fact, I just did a 50-mile ride on it this weekend! Yessss!)

But still… I couldn’t help it. I started eyeballing the feather-light, svelte road bikes that everyone who was passing me on the trails was riding. I had literally JUST started contemplating investing in a my own bike myself, but wasn’t really sure where to start, or what kind to get. And then…

Enter serendipity. I won a bike! In a raffle! At an awesome fundraising event.

How I Ended Up at the Event

waba_women_logo_commuterSince I’m a brand new cyclist who knows, well, pretty much nothing about cycling (although I’m learning!), I was so happy when I stumbled across a wonderful Facebook group for women bicyclists in the DC area (it’s run through our local bike advocacy heroes, the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, or WABA.) One of the first things I saw on there was an announcement about a fundraising event for a local women’s racing team, Team Sticky Fingers.

(Side note: How awesome is it that DC has its own women’s cycling racing team?)

I was all, “Hey, that sounds fun. They’ll be showing a documentary, maybe I might be able to learn something, and there will be beer, and a raffle for a great cause.” I convinced my Biking for Elephants team member Claudia to come with me too. (Thanks for the good luck, Claudia!)

“Maybe I’ll even score a free water bottle,” I thought, hopefully.

Little did I know… the night was a lot more interesting than I expected.

How Women’s Pro Cycling Is Super Badass

The fundraiser event centered on a screening of a documentary about women’s pro cycling called Half the Road. Going in, I knew literally nothing about women’s pro cycling except that it was really cool to watch in the last Olympics. So I was a pretty good tabula rasa for the film.

HalfTheRoad1

Here’s what I learned:

  • There’s a shockingly big inequity between women and men pro cyclists. First there’s an incomprehensibly huge pay gap. (A male pro cyclist earns a minimum salary of say around $40k a year — often much more — and can devote all his time and energy to training. Meanwhile, women pro cyclists have no minimum salary guarantee — they’re lucky if they earn $10k — and earn so little that they all have to have a second full-time job on top of their rigorous training regimes). And then there’s the opportunity gap (e.g., forced caps on how long women’s races can be, age restrictions that men didn’t have to follow, fewer racing opportunities in general, etc).
  • Despite these pitfalls, scores of powerful determined women get up on their bikes every day and train hard and compete even harder anyway. It was all kinds of inspiring to see these athletes talk about how passionate they are about their sport; how they put up with and push past all the crap and embrace the love of cycling and the thrill of competition. If athleticism is about breaking through your limits and achieving things no one would ever think you’re capable of… these women are the definition.
  • Advocacy can make a difference. In addition to their full-time training and their full-time jobs, women’s pro cyclists are also working hard to improve the visibility of and equality for their sport. Since the documentary was made, the UCI (international cycling organization) dropped the age limits for women cyclists, AND this year, for the first time in almost 20 years, there’s a women’s cycling event during the Tour de France. (As a matter of fact, it’s this Sunday!)

There’s still a long way to go in this arena, for sure. But seriously… I was inspired on multiple fronts. It would have been a great night no matter what.

But then…

How I Won the Bike

After the film was over, the Team Sticky Fingers team members started reading out the raffle numbers…

Number after number, prize after prize… And then they got to the grand prize: a brand new Giant Avail women’s road bike.

They read a number.

I looked down at my raffle ticket. It looked like the same number.

Wait… what? No way is that the same number.

I looked at the number again.

Holy $#!$& — it’s the same number!!

I’ve never won a big prize before… I was in shock for hours. I’m still in shock today, actually!

They brought me on stage when I won... Here I am grinning in shock/disbelief.

They brought me on stage when I won… Here I am grinning in shock/disbelief.

But just so, so happy. I know it’s completely irrational, but I still feel like I was given a little gift from the universe with this bike as a reward. Like the universe is saying to me, “Good job, Audre, with this whole biking and fundraising-for-a-good-cause thing. Keep it up. Here’s a bike!”

Thank you, universe! Thank you, random statistics that happened to fall in my favor that day!

And especially thank you Team Sticky Fingers and WABA and all the sponsors for making this happen, and for making a difference towards promoting safe cycling and recognizing the achievements of women cyclists.

How I’m Liking the Bike

I just picked it up this weekend (the bike shop that donated it made sure to order one in my size for me) so I haven’t taken it for a long-distance ride yet. But riding it around town so far, I’m loving how smooth and light it is.

Yep, of course I wore my elephant shirt when I picked it up. DUH.

Yep, of course I wore my elephant shirt when I picked it up. DUH.

It’s going to take a while to get used to balancing myself on this lighter frame and finding out how to stay comfortable in the new position of road-bike riding.

But I can’t wait to figure it out and hit the road. For the elephants!

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43 Miles to Mount Vernon and Back!

43 Miles to Mount Vernon and Back!


Posted By on Jul 6, 2014

I walk on untrodden ground.

–George Washington

I conquered my first big training milestone this weekend! It’s further than I’ve ever been before… but only a fraction of the distance I’ll go in September during the Climate Ride.

I’m gonna be totally honest and say… AHHHHH THAT WAS SO HARD.

I went really slowly. I took a thousand breaks. And I admit there was a stretch in the second half where I was so out of energy that I wondered if I would even be able to make it home. But… I did it!

This. Was. Hard. But... I did it!

This. Was. Hard. But… I did it!

What did I learn?

Well, first of all, I learned that I (surprise surprise) have a LOT more training to do. Right now I can easily envision getting to 60 miles in a day (the average daily mileage of the Climate Ride from New York to DC). But the part where I do 60 miles, go to bed, and then… wake up the next morning and do it again? 4 more times?

That’s not as easy to envision right now…

But you know what? Let’s look at how far I’ve come so far. Considering I could barely bike 2 miles when I started training at the beginning of May, reaching this first milestone is huge. If I’m dedicated and consistent in my work, I’ll reach new milestones I can barely even dream of right now.

I also learned a bit about this stubborn determination of mine. No one said this challenge I’m putting myself through was going to be easy, especially not me. But I was stubborn enough to finish the ride I started this weekend, and I’ll be stubborn enough to keep training until the big ride in September.

Fierce determination in the face of a seemingly impossible challenge can change the world. And here I am… I’m just riding a bike! Piece of cake.

I biked to Mount Vernon, and here's the giant George Washington lollipop to prove it.

I biked to Mount Vernon, and here’s the giant George Washington lollipop to prove it.

What’s next?

The next big goal is a 50 mile ride. But I’m also going to focus on stepping up my strength training, and learning how to eat for long-distance rides so I don’t totally run out of energy mid-way. Even if it means eating those weird energy gel things…

I can do it!

[Credits: Cover photo by Rob Shenk]

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