Monday, July 12, 2010

The L.A.T.E. Ride

This past Saturday night, my dad and I joined 9,000 cyclists in Chicago to ride 25 miles in honor of the city's Friends of the Park organization—I've never seen so many bikes in my life! Was I intimidated? Yeah, a little. My dad is an avid cyclist. He rides as often as possible and I'm pretty sure 25 miles is cake for the man. I, on the other hand, am still barely a beginner and had yet to pedal beyond 17 miles at one time. I wasn't sure that I'd be able to keep up with Dad, and I was also concerned that I wouldn't be able to stay up—the ride itself started at midnight (if you do the math, that's 1:00 AM according to the clocks I'm used to). But I was determined. And determination is key when you have to achieve a goal, so I slowly developed the confidence I needed. As we waited for the ride to start, I got locked and loaded. For the most part. True lock and load would come when I started to pedal.

I installed a new set of toe clips for the ride because my feet were consistently slipping forward. They were the next best thing to official cycling shoes. Despite the fact that they took some getting used to, I think they made a huge difference. Not only did my feet stay locked into the pedal, I was able to pedal harder because I wasn't worrying about losing contact with the pedal itself. Instead, I could focus on catching up with Dad whenever he'd take off on a mad sprint down an open portion of the course. Show off!

Speaking of sprinting, I somehow managed to ride faster than I ever had before. I don't think Dad was riding as fast as he could, but he certainly reached a good pace. We went particularly fast down the bike path along Lake Shore Drive. Such a great place to ride! And we loved seeing the city lights at night. Always astonishing. As are the neighborhoods after midnight. We rode through a few areas where the booze had clearly been flowing. It made for some great on-course entertainment, though it also forced us to dodge taxis left and right. Not fun. I couldn't imagine riding around the city on a regular basis. At one point, I was literally a foot away from the side of a bus. Freaked me out!

Vehicle dodging aside, we had a great time. And we finished strong in under two hours! I thought it would take me longer. And I thought those 25 miles would be a lot harder. Lesson of the day—if you put yourself up to a fitness goal, don't listen to yourself when you feel as if you'll never achieve it. Set goals, work hard. Believe in all the steps you're taking (or pedals you're pedaling, in my case) to get to the goal itself. You really can achieve anything.

In the end, it's all worth the effort. I think we both want to participate again next year. Who knows, we may even make a run (ahem...pedal) for the "Best Lit Bike" and "Best Helmet" awards. Clearly we didn't make any effort at all this year. But we did wear lighted bracelets! Up next? Not sure, though I'm looking forward to pedaling beyond 25 miles at some point before the snow falls. Anyone in my area know of any rides?


Unknown said...

So fun! I want to do that ride. And, I must say, you did it fast! It's amazing how the group really pulls you, huh?

Tammy said...

Have to have a print of that picture. Love it!!

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