I’ve mentioned before that I’m new at the bike.

Before I started training for IRONMAN Taiwan this past April the most I’d ever ridden was about 50 miles, and I’d really only done a handful of road biking workouts ever in my life. The run and the swim I could do all day; I’m totally comfortable there.

But the bike just freaks me out on so many levels.

First of all I don’t really understand the technique. Do I pedal faster? Do I add more gears? Am I pushing enough on the pedals? Am I pulling too much? Couple all that with the fact that I have the least mechanically inclined brain ever and I’m a total mess. I’m terrified of something breaking on it when I ride far from home; I’ve just recently gotten semi-comfortable swapping out flat tubes. I don’t own all the fancy gear and equipment. I don’t have a TT bike, or a power meter, or an aero helmet.

I hate that the swim and the run are completely pure and minimalist yet the bike is a total money pit.

My attitude also isn’t helped by the fact that I’m not yet physically fit on the bike, ie: I had a 20 minute test on the indoor trainer today to determine training paces, and my legs gave out way before my lungs did–I have very little cycling leg strength built up at this point.

This was made very clear to me after talking with my coach today about how my time trial went. When he asked how I felt about it I confessed that while I knew I averaged about 195 watts for the 20 minutes, I had zero frame of reference as to what that number meant. Was it good? (I was pretty sure it wasn’t)…Was it bad? (I was pretty sure it was)…

His reply?

“Yeah…it’s not very good, to be honest…”

I’ll admit, I laughed. It was actually really refreshing that he was so blunt about it, because it was pretty obvious to me, even in my ignorance, that it wasn’t.

But what I especially liked was that he framed the results in the sense that there’s really nowhere to go but up. I began to see my inexperience on the bike–by far the longest leg of any triathlon–as this sort of major asset; it won’t happen overnight and maybe not even within the next year, but if I put the work in and really focus on improving my cycling, there’s some massive potential for improvement there, and that’s really exciting to think about.

I’m glad I’ve hired a coach because 1. I know nothing about the bike at this point and 2. my natural instinct is to avoid cycling as much as possible and devote more time to the two disciplines I’m comfortable doing, which of course is a bad idea, so it’s good I have someone knowledgeable to force me to ride harder and smarter.

I’m also starting to realize I need to learn more about the bike; it’s really pretty lame (not to mention lazy) of me to continue to claim ignorance about biking when it would be just as easy for me to Google it…now there’s a thought.