I became a registered member here about a wk ago, but I am just now getting around to introducing myself. My experience w/bikes is not all that impressive, but, as my daughter said recently, I'm beginning to get "obsessed".
As a kid, my sister & I had matching Schwinn 10-speed road bikes. We "piddled" around on them in our neighborhood, but didn't even have anyone explain how to shift the gears to us, so we always kept them in whatever gear they happened to have accidentally shifted into while messing with them. What a shame that we were never properly taught how to use them. Nevertheless, we had fun on them.
Fast forward a few decades...I am now 35 yrs old and had not been on a bike since then, until recently. In Sept. (2004), I had a major complication during a routine day surgery. The doc severed my hypogastric artery and iliac vein, and I nearly bled to death on the operating table. They were able to resuscitate me twice, but had to hold pressure on the injuries for so long, I developed huge blood clots in my left leg. They told my family they had saved my life, but might have to amputate my leg. They removed the clots & saved my leg, but later, in ICU, it was discovered I had Compartment Syndrome in my left calf muscles as a secondary complication from the original cut-off of blood flow. So, 1 am, I was back in surgery, trying to save my leg again. Long story short, after months of therapy & healing & etc, I am feeling strong & healthy again, and can walk with nearly no limp, but I still have permananent nerve, tendon, and circulatory problems in that calf and ankle. Walking long distances is miserable and usually results in a VERY noticeable limp & extreme swelling in my ankle. So, walking & running for exercise is pretty much out.
I work at TX Dept. of Public Safety, and my coworkers & supervisors are currently wildly obsessed with mountain biking. I thought, "What a great idea! I bet biking would be a good form of exercise, since I primarily use my thigh muscles for that!" Despite warnings from the "bike gurus" at work, I purchased (please don't shoot me!) a Walmart "cheapie" to start on. Within one week, I could see what they meant about Walmart cheapies, but I am still glad I got it as my starter bike, so I could make sure I really liked it. Plus, I don't mind really abusing the cheapie on my daily rides. I am riding roughly 8-10 miles a day, plus another 6 miles a day, at lunch, on a stationary bike we have at work. I live in a small rural community where "paved roads" is a very loose term. I am gaining loads of experience riding on all sorts of surfaces (dirt, caliche, hard & smooth pavement, limestone, sand, etc.). I also try to find any sort of challenge I can, such as riding through steep bar ditches, thick, boggy sand, on overpasses, jumping over small branches, etc. I'm having a blast, though my muscles sometimes protest.
Well, my coworkers have seen how obsessed I've become and have extended an invitation to start riding with them at "real" mountain bike trails at Palo Duro Canyon. I am so honored and excited to have this opportunity, but I have to admit, I'm a little intimidated at the prospect of riding with people who have been riding those trails for approx. two years or more. I don't want to prove to be an embarrassment or hindrance. Any tips on how to improve my overall skills & endurance would most appreciated. I have all the "gear" (padded shorts, helmet, jerseys, gel half-finger gloves, wrap around sunglasses, a Camelback, cycling shoes, etc.), so I think I'm ready.
Oh yeah....my bike. Well, my husband has a great Trek 830 that he never rides anymore. I have begged him forever to let me ride it. Well, this weekend, he finally announced that he is very proud of my progress and is GIVING me the bike (woo-hoo!!). I am taking it in this weekend to have new tubes put in and have it serviced, since it hasn't been ridden in quite some time. I am SO excited!! No more heavy Walmart cheapie with the gears that slip and don't shift right!
Wow! Did I write a journal here or what???