When things don't go as I envisioned in my mind, I get stuck in the moment and have a hard time rolling with the punches. It's particularly easy to get emotionally derailed when a training session or race doesn't go as planned. When my legs aren't quite churning out the strong, fast pedal strokes that I need, or my bike isn't functioning at it's best, or I'm dressed poorly and freezing in the saddle, it's difficult to keep my head in the game and focus on anything but the problem.
I know that not all seven days of the 545-mile AIDS/Lifecycle Ride will run smoothly. Something will surely happen to throw my mind off course during the challenging charity ride, and I want to be ready for it, even if the solution is as simple as being able to shrug it off. Last weekend I got the chance to practice this very skill—among other key cycling drills—in the best and safest environment for athletes like myself: the annual three-day Team Luna Chix Summit.
Seven pro team members plus some 200 amateur riders who make up 22 Luna Chix local teams across the country gather in Berkeley, CA, every year to hang out; swap stories; learn new skills in cool clinics for running, road cycling, mountain biking, swimming, or triathlons; and celebrate the Luna Bar brand that supports them to bring their sport to women in their communities. Not only was I excited to train with these fab females, I was also thrilled to get the chance to practice riding near San Francisco, where the AIDS Ride kicks off in June.
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On our first of two training rides together—a short 20-miler with 1,800-feet of climbing—I kept telling myself, "If I'm gonna step out of my comfort zone, this is the best scenario to do it"—with a bunch of ladies (we were 22, plus our ride leader) who are used to being patient and understanding with anxious cyclists, like myself. While I managed to keep pace with these fast femmes in the steady rain and the densest fog that I've ever seen, my biggest challenge came when I got a flat tire after a long, hard climb on a twisty descent about four or so miles from our hotel.
Luckily three amazing women immediately pulled over to help me, including four-time Olympian and World Cup-winner Katerina Nash. The pro Luna Chix member immediately got to work fixing my flat (check out the Instagram here). Unfortunately, the pump kept snapping off the air valve, and we had to use three inner tubes before the tire was ready to go.
Once we got rolling, about a mile later, I flatted again (apparently we missed a tiny piece of glass still in my wheel) and we were out of inner tubes. So I had to ride the rest of the way basically on the rim of my back wheel (thank God it was a rental!). Katerina and the other two ladies who stayed with me, Anna and Melissa, were so wonderful about riding slowly and chatting up a storm to keep our minds off the fact that we were cold, tired, and hungry after a three-hour ride. Even though I apologized a bunch, somehow I never felt totally bummed about the sucky situation. Maybe because I was in such great company!
I'm glad I had the opportunity to learn about the power of positive energy, good company, a well-stocked bike pouch, and sticking with it until eventually you have no choice but to shrug it off and keep having fun. Thank you for the great life lesson, Luna Chix!
For daily updates on my training, follow me on Twitter @CDGoyanes.