Posted by: forgingahead | May 12, 2008

Santa Cruz or Bust

First, a confession. I’m 42 years old and have only recently begun to uncover the beginnings of an athletic streak that got me through many mornings of crew training in college. Some simple math and you’ve figured out that was, oh let me see, more than 20 years ago? Sad but true.

And now I’m training for my first triathlon. My first competition or athletic goal of any kind for that matter since those heady days of boundless energy. More on how this all happened later. I want to jump right into the good stuff.

Today my hubby and I biked 45 miles on a beautiful tandem bike on loan from Nicolle and Michael (N&M). Seriously, one minute I’m muttering about what a clunker my mountain bike from college is and the next thing you know I’m on a bicycle built for two. Is the world great or what?

And no, I hadn’t really quite trained up for this particular ride. Anke, world’s best dressage trainer and all around good friend, had biked with hubby and I several times to and from the barn. And hubby and I had taken the tandem for a couple of spins. In Kathleen biking speak, a spin is under 20 miles. At this point you should also know that hubby has been biking 35+ miles multiple times a week for, hmmm, has it been 6 months? At least. So one of us was prepared.

But we’re all about the goals these days, thanks to Coach Allison (a long story here that needs time for proper telling…stay tuned). And hubby had proposed a bike ride from Half Moon Bay to Santa Cruz – approximately 47 miles as a short-term goal. “It’s all downhill,” he kept saying. Sure, all points south are downhill, right? He doesn’t fool me.

Tandem Nicolle did encourage us to head in the southerly direction as the wind tends to blow that way and help push the bike along. And Anke said she’d pick us up wherever we stopped, so I ran out of reasons to say no.

So this morning at 9:40 we pushed off into a stiff cool breeze. What a day, what a ride. The beautiful thing about riding a tandem is the sense of teamwork (when you’re not being irritated by your teammate).

The two sets of pedals are actually connected by a chain. This is incredibly annoying at first when one of you stops pedaling to make some adjustment and the other person is unpleasantly jarred. We do this less than we used to, but it sure is a hard habit to break.

N&M warned us that the tandem experience is all about communication. Hubby drives the bike which means he’s shifting, braking, steering and he can see the road ahead more clearly. Those wide shoulders that I fell in love with make it hard to see what’s ahead, so there’s a large degree of trust going on.

We worked out most of the kinks on our shorter rides. Things like to get going after clipping in the right pedal, how many times do you push off with your left foot on the ground before you get into your seat? Three is our magic number (unless we’re on a hill).

We cruised through the first 10 miles in no time. Piece of cake. Did I mention it was flat? Then our first big downhill (boy are those fun – you can really get some good speed with the weight of two people on one bike!) Which led, inevitably, to our first big uphill. Thank goodness for the granny gear because we needed it.

When we reached Davenport 10 miles outside of Santa Cruz we were totally psyched. We were going to make it! 8 miles later the back tire went completely flat. Heartbreak. Our triumphant cruise into town was foiled.

Anke was on her way to pick us up so we called it good enough. I spent the time by the side of the road stretching muscles that were just beginning to realize what I’d subjected them to.

Hours later and I’m happy to report that I can still walk. We’ll see what the morning brings.



  1. Flat tire aside, you did it! It must help to have hubby as a partner in training (when you’re not debating about how to accomplish the goal).

    Love the new blog — can’t wait to read more!

  2. Hi Kathleen,
    Hi Bert,
    Great job!!!!!!! Santa barbara….they are coming 🙂 yuhaaaaa
    Your Fanclub,

    Now Voyager,Fandango,Zinger
    Anke and Klaus

  3. Thanks fan club! You’re the best!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: