Monday, June 8, 2009

Two Fat Cyclists Take Mesquite

Now, let me say that I would not call S a fat cyclist. Or fat at all. But he calls himself fat, and it made for a better title than, "One Fat Cycling Novice and Her Hot Husband Take Mesquite." So, I went with it.

S and I did our first bike race together this past weekend. Race is really not the right term - a ride where you pay an entrance fee, get a t-shirt and sweat your butt off is more like it. What is it with Monday mornings and me using the word butt?

We rode the 33K - the short, beginning, novice, just starting out, no big deal length - of the Mesquite Rodeo Bike Ride. There were folks there who are serious cyclist and athletes that rode much further. (75K or 100K) There were also families there doing the fun ride that was only 5K. And, there were lots of people there just like us. People looking to get in some exercise in a fun way and sort of new to cycling. People of all ages and sizes and kinds.

First, I feel I must explain a little bit about our bikes and the conditions we ride under.

While our bikes are nice and in good condition, they are not road bikes or racing bikes. Road bikes are lightweight, have skinny, non-nubby tires, an aerodynamic frame, and allow the rider to maximize their effort to move fast. They are very expensive, and there is no way we'd purchase a bike like this on a whim. It's a serious investment.

Our bikes - well, I have a hybrid bike. This is somewhere between a road bike and a mountain bike. It is not lightweight - the tires are smooth in the middle, but nubby on the edges. This is supposed to allow you to ride the bike almost anywhere. But, it isn't built for speed - it's heavy, for one. And, my bike is on par price and style/features-wise with any department store brand bike. It's run of the mill, but it's in good shape and works fine for me.

S - he has a mountain bike. This means his tires are completely nubby, meant for off-road courses, and definitely not for speed. His is a little fancier - pretty nice for a mountain bike - a Gary Fisher.

Then, there's the issue of the person sitting on the bike. On the left you have a serious biker body - thin, in shape and ready to go. On the right, well, you get the point. All of this is to say, even if we were in excellent shape, we would not have the capacity to go as fast as an average person on a road bike. So, really these rides are all about getting out and having some fun together exercising.

We got up early and S loaded up the bikes. I gathered the other supplies.

One of the supplies - the frozen water bottles.

This was my idea. I decided to freeze the water bottles - with water in them - so they would stay cold longer during the ride. It was a good idea - it was. But, next time, I should only fill them half full or something. Because, well, even when I left what I thought was enough room at the top - they had expanded so much some of the lids wouldn't go on.

Then, there's the issue of the bottle with the straw...ahem. That's the straw in the middle of all that ice. They are out on the porch in these photos because that's where I took them to "warm up" once I realized the lid issue that morning. They did warm up and it was all fine by the time we raced. And, they did stay colder longer. But, next time, I'll be a little more lenient with the water before I freeze.

While I was shooting the water bottle photos I got mesmerized by my lantana.
It's so pretty this time of year, no? But, back to today's topic.

Then we were off!

The ride began at 7:45, so we wanted to arrive around 7:20 so we could be in place for the start of the race. Not at the front, you understand, but in the general vicinity.

Start/Finish was at the Mesquite Rodeo.
We got a free ticket to attend, so we'll be back.

There were several vendors on hand, as well as cycling teams.

The National Guard was there directing traffic.

We were ready!

We waited back here for the start.

The real riders were cycling up to the start line - look at all those bike helmets in the distance - there were over 1500 riders taking part. So, we let them get on their merry way. Then we pedaled on up and started out.

There are several cool things about doing a ride like this:

- it gets you up and out and accomplished early on a Saturday

- everyone - and I mean everyone - is so friendly at these things - we're all in it together

- you get to ride a different course than your regular old route and see something new

- the courses are closed off to vehicle traffic so for the most part the crazy drivers looking to run you over can't during one of these rides

- you get to test your "abilities" on a different course

- you get to see that there are people of all ages and sizes out there doing it, so you can too

We had a good pace throughout the ride, averaging our regular 10 miles an hour. Because of the aforementioned situational setbacks, this is a good speed for us, even though it's slower than dirt for a real cyclist. That said, there were plenty of people going our pace or slower - on road bikes. So, we felt OK about our speed.

I am better at the hills than S is. Maybe it's the tires on the bike - that's S's theory. Maybe it's that women are built with most of their muscles on the lower half - if we were doing push-ups, he'd win hands down. Maybe it's that I did that blasted triathlon relay and have a few weeks on him - it's not like I'm going 100K (or even 10K) further than him or anything. I don't know, but when it got to the "hilly" portion of the ride - nothing like the hills of Austin, but some hills, nonetheless - I had to leave S behind to go at my pace up those hills. He'd catch up from time to time on the straightaway or downhill.

But, when we reached approximately half way, and the rest stop area, I was ahead. So, I took photos of him pulling into the rest area. Lucky for you, huh?

The most exciting thing about the rest area was we weren't the only ones there! That meant we weren't the last people on the course! This was lovely and amazing. They had water, sport drink, bananas, oranges, cookies and snack crackers. They also had portolets, bike repair and a masseuse! They thought of everything. Lower right photo, I left the camera to go get a banana. S helpfully took a shot of me eating said banana on the way back to the bike. He's so sweet.

Again, at the end, I was a little bit ahead. So, I pulled over into some shade and waited for S to come by. You'll remember the serious cyclists are on a 100K course. So, they, going twice our speed, which they probably were, they would not arrive for another hour after us. So, people were trickling into the finish, but it wasn't a busy place. At the moment S came through he was the only one there. So, I was able to capture his glory moment. Way to go, S, way to go!

We went into the post-ride area and had a little snack. I tried Coca-Cola Zero for the first time, and I have to say, I'm a fan! I'm not a huge soft drink person - I mostly drink water, actually, but I did like that Coca-Cola Zero. (there's a Wikipedia page for everything, isn't there?)

A nice ride volunteer took this shot - right after I had finished a bite. I didn't smile because I was afraid there would be stuff in my teeth. Just in case you were wondering about the strange grin. Not that strange things don't happen all the time to me or in my photos with no reasonable explanation whatsoever.

We do look like the exercise endorphins are in full force, though, don't we? I mean, we just rode a long way for us, and we look happy! S looks good, doesn't he? We look like we had a nice time. Because we did. We really did. We liked it so much that we're signing up for another one next Saturday. No joke. Really, we are - the Collin Classic. We can't wait!

After our little snack we started packing up.

S does the heavy lifting in the packing up department.

He put the bikes in this orange tie-down Vulcan mind meld.

And then we headed for home.

I tell you what, I might get hooked on this bike riding thing after all. I mean, don't count your chickens or anything. I am a fat girl at heart. And I have a short attention span. I bet you could never guess that after reading this blog. Ha! But, right now, we're having fun. And, for me, when it comes to exercise, having fun at it is more than half the battle.

Happy Monday! See you tomorrow.


  1. I'm proud of you both.
    From a "retired" bike racer.

  2. YEA!! I take full credit for this - even if it really has nothing to do with me at all. Keep going. It just gets more addictive. Now, get yourself a road bike - you can probably find a deal on Craig's list! I don't have one yet, but I'm saving my pennies for one as soon as possible. I think it will make what is already fun even better!!

  3. I cannot believe you have doing all this on a hybrid! Wow. Also, you are starting to inspire me to bike again. Of course I'd have to find a carrier for Andrew. I'm glad you are having fun with it.

  4. Nice job, big sis. Glad you are enjoying it.

  5. Loved reading about the bike race/ride Amy! You and Sam really did look happy at the end, and congratulations on the accomplishment.

    Also, thanks for continuing to entertain your readers.


  6. I'm very impressed! Makes me want to try something like this! Loved the snippit about the water bottles...made me laugh.


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