I've been cycling as far back as I can remember...see?
When I was this age (see photo), I used to think that road cyclists were hilarious. I mean, I actually used to shout things at them from my dad's car. 'Dad! D.A.D! men in tights!" (what are tights?)
I grew up in a quaint rural town filled with cyclists! We'd see them racing by the house, fixing flats on the roadside and then at lunch time we'd see them taking up every corner of our favorite pub. Usually struggling in their cleats to walk to the bar on the 1980's carpets. Occasionally, I'd try and race them down the hill on my sister's trike.
Road biking seemed for clean people, the type that brushed their hair and separated their laundry. I had, and possibly still have, a family of birds living in my hair and all of my whites are definitely more grey.
What kind of cyclist am I now?
I'm very stubborn, so when asked if was "a cyclist" I'd reply, "yes" I DO ride a bike. But in all honesty it's to exercise my dog Penny, not me. We usually cruise along at a pleasant pace taking it all in! I guess that's what put me off Road riding. The idea that you are trying to go as fast as possible and you don't take time enjoy your surroundings. Penny and I have also never been very good in traffic!
I started questioning what a cyclist actually is and really the only way to find out was to get on a bike and go for a ride.
Easier said than done.
What do I need?
Swap out the "arm warmers" for UPF arm coolers unless you plan on climbing to the top of Haleakala on your first ride. I cut the list down even more and bought, a jersey and some shorts! I figured this was a good start?
So I rented a bike from West Maui Cycles. The guys helped me discover what size I should be on. This is dependent on how tall you are and what your inseam measures among other things. Aside from buying a bike and being properly fitted, this is the best you can hope for. Jump on and see if it feels good! Road biking is an expensive hobby to start from scratch, so renting is a great way to find out if it suits you.
West Maui Cycles rented me a helmet and some flat pedals too so I could just wear my running shoes. Clip-in pedals take a bit of getting used to, and are something to consider when you get more serious about riding.
I couldn't believe how sensitive the bike was, not in an "unstable way" but rather how responsive it was to your every instruction. It was incredible.
For the first couple of miles I was just trying to concentrate on being in the right position. This was crucial for ease of ride, maximum comfort and not being too sore afterwards!
The shifting took a bit of getting used to as well. There were so many gears! I felt like I had this need to be in the hardest gear I could manage at all times. That this would be the most effective way to ride, to feel resistance. I couldn't have been more wrong, I was soon getting tired and slow. Apparently keeping your cadence up is more important, staying as consistent as possible. I was also cautious to "keep moving my hands" as I'd been told, since I suffer from wrist pain occasionally. It is important if you suffer from anything that may hinder your experience that you talk to the guys at the shop. It's amazing what a small adjustment will do to make you much more comfortable.
Of course the first ride I go on is straight into a head wind, which left me with quite a sore neck and shoulders, but everything else felt great!
It also took a while to adjust to keeping my arms slightly bent. I had a tendency to lock my elbows, which was uncomfortable. Having your arms open a little actually opens up your lungs and gives your arms a bit of a work out too!
I would also suggest you take a partner with you, this was mine (see photo).
I had always felt a bit nervous about going on a ride with a more experienced rider in case I couldn't keep up, or I was irritatingly slow. But It definitely makes the ride more enjoyable when you share it with someone.
Despite what I thought earlier, I still had plenty of time to enjoy this beautiful island and keep up the pace!
Will I go on a road ride again?
Well, I do have the gear now. Any ladies want to come with me?