When I started this lose weight/cycling program over 3 mos ago, I wasn't really sure whether I was going to stick to it. That was because I didn't know if I would like it as well as if I was going to be able to see any benefits at all.
I still remember that very first ride on my K2 Attack 2.0 MTB. That bike had been sitting in the garage collecting dust for the past seven years! It was barely 5 miles but I was in total pain. My sit bones were screaming from the stiff seat. My legs had no power whatsoever. My lungs and heart pretty much gave up that last 1/8 of a mile climb to my house so that I had to walk it. The only thing that got me going the next day was the shame of having to buy another pair of pants one size up. That first week I must have only covered a mere 20 miles, avoiding any hills along the way.
On week three, I could feel progress. My sit bones no longer hurt so much and my lungs were no longer sucking air in pain. I decided to tackle a couple of hills by my home. FAIL! Even in the lowest gear in my MTB and barely moving faster than walking speeds, I had to stop several times to recover. I just didn't have the power and stamina to keep going up and over. I was so embarassed as every roadie in the area passed me while I sucked on my water bottle by the side of the road. The people in their cars going by must have been laughing and/or feeling sorry for me.
At the beginning of the 2nd consecutive month of riding my MTB on the road, my progress had moved forward even further. I was now riding 5 days a week, 3 times on weekdays and Sat & Sun. No big mileage--just 7 miles per day, 15 miles on both weekend days. I still needed to stop on the big, long hills but the smaller ones I could now grind through (but still using the granny gear). I was cannon fodder for every roadie in the hills as everyone including their grandpa would pass me there. In the flats, women (some Athenas too) on road bikes would pass me while they chatted away like it was nothing. At least I was no longer sucking on my water bottle by the side of the road, but instead I was moving along, albeit slow.
The beginning of my 3rd month of riding, I made the transition from my MTB to a real, modern road bike. OMG what a difference in speed and efficiency! Unfortunately, the gears were much taller than my MTB and once again, I was sucking wind going up the same hills that I normally could grind through in my granny geared MTB. As soon as I hit a hill, I was immediately in my lowest gear but even that wasn't low enough! My good friend who has been a roadie for years kept on encouraging me to keep going and practicing in the hills. He promised me I would get stronger, better, and faster and I would not be needing to use the lowest gear every time. It was difficult to believe him when I was in pain and was barely moving up the biggest hills!
I am now beginning my fourth consecutive month of riding. I do about 15 miles 3 times a week and about 25 miles Sat & Sun. I can now grind through most small hills in my middle gears so I get through them much faster. Best part is, I can quickly recover from them and not be sucking wind toward the crest. The other day I was climbing up this particularly long but gradual hill and I was behind this roadie that I always encountered on my daily rides. This guy always dropped me in this hill. Not this time. I stayed with him. He kept looking back to see if I was gaining but I wasn't. I was happy just to stay and match his cadence. That felt so good! Today I went for a quick 25 mile ride and I caught up to a female roadie--she looked fit as a fiddle and was moving along well. But I was faster and dropped her going up a short hill. Okay. I admit it could have been a weak victim but my point is, it feels great to no longer be the slowest person around! I'm sure the strong riders will still drop me on anything but the downhills. But they won't be passing me like I was standing still anymore and sucking my water bottle by the side of the road.
Progress! To all you cyclists out there who are just starting out: don't give up. You will get better and faster!