Training for My First Gran Fondo: Week 2 or How I Managed To Not Get Off and Push!
Welcome back! For those of you who read my first post, you know I’m training for my very first Saint Francis Tulsa Tough Gran Fondo. My goal is to do the Petite 27, which will be the furthest I’ve ever traveled on my bike at one time. Last week I managed to squeak out 15 miles in 1:32. My goal for this outing was to do at least 17 miles. Now, for all you professionals out there chuckling at my time – keep in mind I’m attempting to do this on my Electra Townie 3-speed. Let’s be honest, this is a bike built for cruising – not speed. The tires are whitewalls and they are so wide and fat, the brand name is actually Fat Franks.
My planned route would take me south along Riverside Drive to 71st Street, up to Turkey Mountain, along the west bank of the river to the 31st street bridge to the Midland Valley Trail, taking the trail to 3rd street downtown. I would then take 3rd through downtown until I reconnected with the Riverside Trail and eventually back to my starting point. According to my riding partner, it made much more sense to travel clockwise because of the southern wind. I still think he was yanking my chain but considering he owns spandex and I don’t (yet) I took his word for it.
And Then There Was Wind…
We set off and almost immediately we were hit with the wind out of the south. Seriously – when will it let up? It almost had me wishing for those hot, humid days in July when nothing moves…..almost. But as someone very wise once said – “the wind is nature’s trainer” – so we persevered. We finally made it to the 71st street bridge and my one and only goal at this point was to make it to the top of Turkey Mountain without having to get off and push. AND I DID IT!!! Sweet goodness, I did it!! Granted, it’s a much more gradual climb than the “north face” version but still, it’s a climb! By the time I got to the top I wanted to lie down in the cool grass and die, but I was too overjoyed (and winded) to do much more than gulp down some water.
We headed down the mountain to the west bank and sadly, it was at this point that I would reach my top speed for the day. The ride along the west bank is spectacular. It’s not as crowded as the east side and some of the views are absolutely stunning. Plus that wonderful, wonderful wind was now at my back. Now this was what cycling was all about! Between you and me – when I’m riding into the sunshine and the wind is at my back, I swear I feel like I’m 9 years old again.
We crossed the pedestrian bridge and started on the Midland Valley Trail. This trail has undergone a recent renovation and the bike path is wonderful. We took this trail all the way to 3rd and Madison and then cut through downtown to reconnect with the Riverside Trail at SW Boulevard.
The last part of our route was not quite as pleasant. I was tired, my legs were burning, and that ridiculous wind would not let me be. But I finished and I felt so accomplished and victorious. Making it up that hill at 71st street was so exhilarating – I had a celebratory beer at the end of my ride. Okay, maybe it was two beers, but I earned them. My final tally for the day was 18.08 miles in 1:58.
And I’ve learned a few things in my two short training sessions –
- Sunscreen is your friend! Don’t be foolish and think because it’s a cloudy day you’ll be okay. You won’t! You’ll get a sunburn and it’ll hurt and you’ll be cranky to all your friends and loved ones. And then you’ll peel.
- Hydrate! Hydrate! Hydrate! Water is your friend! You are not a camel.
- Even though my bike seat is very cushy, it’s not nearly cushy enough. I now see the appeal of padded bike shorts.
Next week my goal is to actually ride my bike to another town! So if you see me out riding, give me a shout of encouragement. I’ll be the one on the baby blue Townie with white tires that could possibly fit a small car.
- Ginger Rose
Ginger is a long-time Tulsa resident who just happens to think Tulsa is one of the coolest places to live and enjoy life. There is always something happening and she’d like to share a few of the fun, great things she enjoys and loves about this city! In the upcoming weeks she’ll be spreading the word on how much Tulsa has to offer for those who enjoy an active lifestyle – whether it’s cycling, running, hiking, or just walking. Hopefully she will inspire you to get out, get some fresh air, and get moving. You can also find Ginger on her blog, Keep Tulsa Local.