Several of my massage therapy clients are athletes.Most of them compete in triathlons.Many more of my clients are long distance cyclists who compete in bicycle races.A few years ago, inspired by my clients, I decided to compete in the Tour de Scottsdale race.It is a seventy-five mile bicycle race that circles around scenic northern Scottsdale and Fountain Hills in Arizona.I have never done anything so athletically demanding in my life before.I did not even own a bicycle at the time.
The Tour de Scottsdale was near the end of October.I decided to buy a racing bike in July.That gave me a little over twelve weeks to train.I visited several bicycle stores to shop for the right racing bike and whatever else I needed to train.Eventually, I found a store that was very popular with ardent cyclist.After seeing several options within my price range, the salesman finally showed me a road bike that was on clearance. The salesman told me. “It is last years model but it is still in new condition.”It was only five hundred bucks, which is a bargain compared to all the others in the same class.It was a pewter color, with yellow pin stripping, Felt Racing F80, twenty-nine speed racing road bike.I bought it along with a helmet, training computer, racing shorts, jersey, emergency repair kit, lights, water bottles, and a lot of other accessories.
I asked him “Do I need to buy an air pump for the tires?”
He answered “No, just an emergency CO2 cartridge for when you have a flat.”So I didn’t buy the tire pump on his advice.
Since it was July in Arizona, I had to do all of my training in early morning or very late at night.That is why I had to buy the lights.About four o’clock in the morning, I would put on my bicycling outfit and helmet and take her out on the road.One day I was on a main road that was very quiet since it was only four thirty in the morning.I rode west about five miles then decided to turn back.Then the morning commute started.I found myself on a two-lane road full of morning commuters.I was scared to death because there was no bicycle lane, it was dark, and the drivers were probably way to groggy to pay attention to a cyclist riding inches away from their lane.After I survived the commuters, I decided to do my training predominantly on side streets.
When I first started training, I was overweight and not in the best of cardiovascular condition.I started training only about ten miles a day.As my condition improved, I worked up to twenty to thirty miles per day.I also noticed I was able to lean forward better because my belly got smaller.I was sweating away a lot of extra pounds of body weight.As race day approached, I felt I was almost in shape enough for the tour.
A few days before the race, I took the bicycle to the shop where I bought if for a pre-race tune up.I picked it up the day before the race.The night before the big event, I packed up the SUV with all my gear and went to bed early so I would be ready to go the next morning.I felt very anxious and was afraid I was not going to be able to sleep.
On the day of the race, I woke up at four thirty that morning because the race started at seven.After waking, I loaded up with oatmeal and bananas then drove to DC Ranch where the Tour de Scottsdale started.After I arrived, I unloaded my bicycle and got in the back of the line because I knew I was going to be in last place throughout the race.It was never my intention to break any land speed record; I just wanted to complete the seventy-five miles.
The starting gun went off.As the seven hundred cyclists in front of me rolled out a head of me, I started peddling. Shortly after the start, a fellow cyclist next to me pointed out that I needed air in my tires.I assumed the tune-up from the bike shop took care of that.After about two miles of struggling uphill, I finally caught up with SAG support truck to get some air in the tires.Now with proper inflation, I’m now onward while dead last in the race.The first half of the Tour de Scottsdale is generally uphill.I was out of breath, sweating, and crawling for the first thirty miles.I finally reached the top of the hill at the thirty-mile point.I was approaching a nine-mile down hill coast and a well needed break; when I glanced down to notice my rear wheel was wobbling.I hopped off the bike to investigate and found a broken spoke.I had to face the horrible truth that I was out of the Tour de Scottsdale.To say I was devastated would be an understatement.There was nothing left to do except wait for the SAG truck to drive me to back to the finish line.
At the finish line, I ran into one of my regular clients.He is an experienced cyclist.I told him what had happened to my wheel and the air in my tire.He told me “first of all, you have to fill up the tires before each time you ride it.”He then told me “on racing bikes, the tires don’t hold air very well and leak out daily. You need to own a tire pump.”
Later at the finish line, I also met up with one of the SAG team members who also owned the bicycle store where I bought the bike.He remembered me from the several visits to his store.He had heard what had happened to me.He advised me “The standard wheels that come with the class of racing bicycles you have do not support a man of your size.”He then offered,“Bring it in this week and I’ll hook you up with some upgraded wheels that will be better for you.”
Later that day, a race official told me “a lot of the cyclist have their own SAG team with spare parts along the course.”As I saw earlier, several vehicles where I broke down were parked with spare wheels and extra bicycles on the roof racks.He explained to me “a friend or spouse would usually be just a cell phone call away with whatever you need.”
I learned a lot that day.I spent a lot of money and trained really hard.After all that money and effort, I did not finish my goal of completing the Tour de Scottsdale.But I got experience and maybe enough knowledge to do better next time.At least I won’t be repeating the same mistakes.Even though I may not finish my goal the first try, I will still gain enough knowledge and experience so I will be able to finish another day.