Hot Wheels

The month of June has been declared “Bike Month” by Mary at Mary J Melange and she has challenged some of us to write about our biking experiences.

Unlike Mary, and Dan at No Facilities, I have no motorcycle experience – I consider it one of my more successful brushes with sanity – so my stories are limited to the humble bicycle.

I feel a bit like a fraud when it comes to cycling because I didn’t embrace it until I was well into my 40s.

Yes, I had a trike as a child and learned how to ride a 2-wheeler, but even though I grew up in a small town, we weren’t allowed to take our bikes anywhere. Needless to say, that made bicycles a completely irrelevant part of my life.

About a dozen years ago, that all changed.  Our circle of friends included a large number of triathletes and one evening after a social get-together, I got the crazy idea that I could be one too.

That brings me to the first of my learnings as a budding cyclist.

Learning #1 – be careful of who you chose as your friends.  Eventually you will end up like them.

Never one to be satisfied with half-measures, I promptly bought a shiny new racing bike and dove head-first into the world of swim, bike, run.

My first racing bike – a Canadian made Cervelo – saw me through the mistakes and pains of a newbie rider

This brings me to the second of my all important learnings.

Learning #2 – if you would like to be a triathlete, it is highly recommended that you have experience or some level of competence in at least one of the disciplines.

I had neither experience or competence.

The learning curve was steep.  Very steep … and more than a little bumpy.  Making the transition from non-cyclist to racing wannabe was not a smooth one.

Getting used to a twitchy racing bike and the clip-in bike shoes was unforgiving.  On the inaugural ride of my shiny new Cervelo, I crashed and broke the rear derailleur. For those of you who don’t know bikes, read the word *expensive*.

This now brings me to the third lesson learned on my journey to wannabe cyclist.

Learning #3 – keep the rubber side of the bicycle down.

Over the course of the next several years, I would have multiple crashes and 2 ambulance rides compliments of my failure to embrace Learning #3.

… but I was not dissuaded.  With several sprint distance races behind me, I (very optimistically) decided I was ready to tackle the big boy itself – Ironman.

What I lacked in athletic ability, I made up for with wild, unbridled enthusiasm.

Racing bike #2.  She was soooo pretty.  Too bad I looked like a pregnant moose on her.  Actually, come to think of it, I rode like pregnant moose too.

For those of you who might be unfamiliar with the Ironman, it is comprised of a …

  • 3.86 km swim (2.4 miles),
  • 180 km bike ride (112 miles)
  • and a 42.2 km marathon run (26.2 miles),

… raced in that order, and without a break.

Ironman Canada
2005 – Ironman Canada

Ironman gave me an introduction into an entirely new realm of cycling experiences … but maybe that’s a post for another day.



  1. When I first got clips for my bike a friend gave me the following advice….
    The first time you wreck….tuck and roll
    The second time you wreck…tuck and roll
    The third time you wreck…..yep, tuck and roll!!
    Fortunately I only crashed 3 times because she didn’t tell me what to do if I crashed fourth time!!


    • I’d been given the same advice but unfortunately I never mastered the technique.

      Yesterday I crashed and broken my left collarbone. My poor old body took a major beating, but considering the condition of my helmet, it could have been so much worse. My helmet did its job beautifully.
      It looks like my summer plans are now in the toilet 😦


      • As a sister of two brothers who scare me regularly, I am willing to watch and worry but NOT participate!
        Unless a 5K with my youngest daughter or one mile race on the 4th of July with my grandson last year. 🙂
        I am interested in a (younger) man who may get me to canoe, kayak and camp if we get past the beginning stages of getting to know each other! 😉

        Liked by 1 person

          • It is strange but I keep thinking I have several years to share. Maybe just a very good male friend to travel around with but retreat to our respective homes. 🙂 You have a partner in crime! He takes photos and travels. I forget how long she said, but Katie Couric just shared (I believe) it took her ten years to even consider remarriage. I have hope!

            Liked by 1 person

            • The key thing in here for me was ‘retreat to our respective homes’. I don’t think I would want to live with someone again.
              Maybe I’m just saying that because I’m still married and long for a time when my kitchen might stay tidy for a while after I just clean it 😉


  2. Every time I see your posts the image of the quiet accountant screeching by in her racing bike dances around in my head. Still in awe of the complete dichotomy between your professional life and private life.

    But, I did start riding a bike again…no racers for me…just a beach cruiser! 😀


  3. From no experience to an Ironman? You’re a super star Joanne. I read this post slowly and will endeavour to following your learnings. I giggled at the ‘pregnant moose’ caption…hardly! AND please please please write and Ironman post!!!!


    • I admit I giggled at the image of a pregnant moose on a bike too 😀

      As you discovered with running, I discovered with triathlon … small steps, hard work, and determination go a long way. We are capable of so much more than we think we are.

      Thanks for the encouragement that someone might be interested in hearing about my trials and tribulations on the Ironman bike course 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Ironman!! Very impressive Joanne. I jog and cycle, but I could never be a triathlete because my swimming could more closely be called controlled drowning – at least at these distances. I’ve done a bit of bike touring, and my biggest accomplishment was a 1300 mile, one month, solo tour of the southern US. I can see that you share the Neil Young philosophy: “I’d rather wear out than rust.” ~James


    • I love that quote!! I’ve never heard it before but I can definitely relate to it 🙂
      I think I’ll have to remember that one for future reference 😀

      I’m currently training for what I think is my most ambitious adventure yet – 1000 km bike tour from Bangkok to Phuket in October over 10 days.
      … but it sounds almost tame compared to your SOLO tour of 1300 miles!!! That’s not a trifling. Wow.


      • Your tour sounds wonderful Joanne. We’ve traveled in this part of the world, and I’m sure that you’ll enjoy it. And don’t worry, there will be lots of delicious rice and noodle dishes to keep your carbs up. 🙂 You might want to consider a GoPro video camera to strap to your helmet. That would set you up for blogs posts for months. ~James


  5. This post is amazing. I am so impressed by you, as always. And your bikes were very pretty 🙂 Me, I’m too scared of the clips – don’t even get me started on the rest of it!


  6. I had a little red Honda 90 in high school – top speed 35 mph. I can’t ride road bikes because of an inner ear problem. I fall over a lot! But you go girl!!


    • If I didn’t live in the city, I would LOVE to have a Vespa. I think that would just be the coolest way to get around in a small town.

      I understand about the falling a lot … but I don’t have an inner ear problem. I just get distracted and veer off the road. Seriously. I wish I was joking.


  7. The mere fact that you took on the task of completing an Ironman is mind boggling to me Joanne! Such an accomplishment regardless of where you ended up in the competition!

    Liked by 1 person

    • For marathon runners, I often see the phrase used ‘you learn a lot about yourself over 26.2 miles’.
      I could say the same thing about just the training to be able to stand on the starting line of an Ironman.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. It’s not how well you do it that matters; just the fact that you did puts you ahead of 90% of the general population – good for you!
    And hey, those are gorgeous bikes.
    I never got into triathons but I really miss being able to train like that – the feeling of “good, well-earned fatigue” at the end of a training run…endorphins I guess.
    Today I still enjoy a nice bike ride but obviously I can’t push, and as for running? Only if someone is chasing me, with a pointy stick or a gun :-p
    My BIL has turned into a big triathlon nut. He’s doing the Ironman even at Tremblant next week; we may just go and cheer him on.


    • You’re right – it is a *good tired* feeling. I’m rediscovering it again in my training for Thailand this fall. My pretty tri bike continues to sit in the basement gathering dust since all my riding now is on a road bike – considerably duller in comparison.

      I thought the Ironman at Tremblant was in August. Is this the 70.3 (half IM)? Best wishes to your BIL … it becomes an addiction 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Tess. I do realize now I was at the top of my game. Sad really. I was hoping I would get better since I didn’t use up any mojo in my youth 😉

      … and the part about not being able to walk 5k? You’d be surprised what you are capable of doing with a little training 🙂


  9. Wow – OK, you may have started late, but you eclipsed my biking lifetime in a few years. You eclipsed my swimming and running in your first race. What an accomplishment, especially given when you started. I am glad you took up Mary’s challenge (and thanks for the ping) and shared this story Joanne. I am impressed, but forgive me if you didn’t motivate me to follow your path 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. That is truly awesome! Seems like a lot of my friends have taken up running or biking later in life but I have only met 2 women who have entered the Ironman competition and I have the utmost respect for them. Good for you!


    • Working towards a big audacious goal is life changing regardless of how successful the end result might be.
      We learn a lot about ourselves along the way and I really recommend it … ok, maybe not the Ironman part … but you know what I mean! You’ve done it with your hiking goal 🙂


  11. Dear God. No. So much no. I mean, GOOD FOR YOU! I appreciate your enthusiasm and your dedication, but I can’t even fathom. I can run just about half a mile before I question why I am still running, whether I am dying, and who I’m trying to kid. My longest bike ride was about 26 miles and afterward, I slept for almost 14 hours! Swimming, sure, I swim laps, occasionally, without counting, so certainly not two miles of them! Ironman indeed! WOW!
    That yellow bike sure is pretty 🙂 Your leg muscles are impressive 🙂
    Just no. lol


    • LOL!! “so much no” …. best line ever!! 😀

      Perhaps I should have written my first learning as ‘never say never’, because that’s exactly what I initially said.

      … then, well – friends 😉

      If it makes you feel better, after a rough training day I actually fell asleep eating dinner with my fork still in my hand :/

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I was just thinking, “I haven’t read a post from Joanne in a while.” And then here you were. You are amazing and what a lot of daring to decide to tackle a whole new sport. Wow. Sounds grueling but sort of fun in a masochistic sort of way. Ha ha. My brother loves cycling and racing. Have fun!


    • Hi Diana! I’ve been away for a while … and coincidentally I just finished The Melding of Aeris. LOVED it!!

      My racing days are long behind me. I had to finally acknowledge my remarkable lack of ability – not to mention the fact I wasn’t having fun.

      Now I cycle for fun. It’s much more enjoyable 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  13. There is no way you looked like a pregnant moose! I am so impressed with your ironman experiences. Having done my one and only marathon the thought of adding anything other than breathing makes my eyeball bulge.


  14. OMG! OMG! OMG! WOW! When I met He-Man at the tender age of 22…just barely the legal age to drink in the US he was into Martial Arts. Wing Chun was his thing. By winter the next year he took up running, and the next thing I knew he was running a Marathon! I watched him cross the finish line with ample time to spare to qualify for the Ironman…his goal…not mine.

    He was seriously dehydrated and needed beaucoup de l’eau et rest afterwards. I found him in the medical tent! FTR- I did not ask him to stop running marathons. If that’s what he dreamed of doing then I would help and support him to meet that goal. That’s what friends do. Just because we were engaged to be married I didn’t think that should change.

    From there he went to Triathlons. Many, many triathlons. From all those competitions he fell in love with the bike. He had two customs bikes built, and a mountain bike. Saturdays we never did anything together b/c he was competing or training for 10-11 hours a day on the saddle. After 4 yrs of triathlons he moved to Century races, then Double Centuries. All the while I and the kids were his number 1 fans and cheerleaders. I was always somewhere along the route, and at the finish line.
    Never at any time did I ride my bike any farther than around the neighborhood.
    I’m a klutz and a slug. If there is another life after this one I want be a cat, or a bird: the White tailed Kite: only because they’re elegant and gorgeous.

    I love fashion and shoes but I don’t wear heels over 2 inches high. I’d kill myself if I did. Early on in my life I learned my limits. I’m perfectly fine being a hiker with both feet close to the ground. Those of you who can ride bikes for more than just around the neighborhood, and walk in 4 inch heels have my total admiration!

    Seriously, after the first crash I’d have been done! Mountain biking can be hairy too! I’ve not done it in years. The last time I did I was coming down a sky trail riding my brake the whole time swearing like Al Swearengen ( HBO’s Deadwood), and praying simultaneously. My brakes weren’t slowing me down near enough and a I burned rubber the whole way down! I was in my late 30’s then…don’t see me doing that again.


    • What a great comment!!
      First, I can sympathize with you about spending Saturdays alone. My husband has been racing Ironman for about 16 years now and shows no sign of stopping any time soon. It is his addiction.
      Occasionally I still grumble about being a Ironman widow 😉
      Good for you for being so supportive!! I’ve been to enough races to know how truly exhausting it is to be a spectator!

      Secondly, I can relate to the *slug* part. I would once have described myself as a couch potato and still occasionally have to fight my inner slug. I look at my cat and have to agree that they have a pretty awesome life 🙂

      Lastly, shoes rock! I rarely have a reason to wear heels anymore and I certainly don’t have the feet for them, but that doesn’t stop me from trying 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    • Being a spectator at a race is HARD!!! I applaud anyone who does it cheerfully because I hate it!

      I gave up triathlons about 6 years, but my husband still races Ironman and shows no sign of stopping.
      In addition, our oldest son has now caught the *bug* with his friends. I predict that Husband will have them all trying Ironman in a few years.

      Even worse, my youngest son is into Spartan obstacle races and Tough Mudders. I’m still traumatized from spectating at that race!

      I think this whole racing thing is learned behaviour and highly addictive 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Iron man? You may have mentioned it before, but the reality of your accomplishment did not sink in until you put it in print. That’s an awesome feat, one that I believe I would be incapable of completing. Perhaps if I had a different spine and knees and actually went to the gym more than once or twice a week.

    Awesome post, Joanne. You may have been a newbie biker who learned lessons the hard way, but I love how your enthusiasm equated to dedication and then to determination. You rock, Mrs. Biker.


  16. I was very impressed before you listed the distances for the Ironman Joanne. I’m blown away after you listed them. I try to ride a bicycle often but not the racing bike you ride mine is more like a mountain bike. From now on I’ll try to keep your #3 rule in mind also 😜


    • I’ve actually been waiting a mountain bike for while. I think trail riding is an adventure of its own and I think I would enjoy it a lot.
      After I get through this year’s training for Thailand, I’m going to seriously consider it for next year 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s