ThoughtBox

What’s Something You Never Thought You Would Do – And Did?

Hi friends~

Is there anything scary, hard, or exciting that you never intended to do, and did?  How did it feel? Is there a backstory?

I’ll start with something I couldn’t imagine doing.

When I was brand new to riding my bike in a cycling group I heard someone mention a “century”. I had no idea what they were talking about, but when I found out it was a 100-mile bike ride I couldn’t imagine why anyone would do that.

“No thanks”. “Nope”. Not for me.”

A bit of history…It was 2003. I loved riding my bike.

My sturdy hybrid was great for running errands, picking up groceries, and drop-offs to school and lessons with a trailer or bike seat. I took kids on long rides to parks and beaches.

I sometimes saw people on fancy, skinny tire bikes zooming past and I wondered where in the heck they were going so fast, and I thought they looked silly in their skin-tight outfits on those skinny tire bikes.

I was invited to join that cycling group.

IMG 5925
On the 3D Racing Team.

Maybe because they saw me out on the road a lot. One of the members was an encouraging neighbor, and my 4 sons were beginning to race their bikes and do long events.

I showed up at the first group ride and I looked and felt so out of place.

My trusty (and a bit rusty) heavy bike still had the kid seat rack still on the back, a handlebar cup holder, and a huge saddlebag. There was a mirror attached to my mushroom-shaped helmet and a dorky baseball cap underneath. My pedals were flat.

This group, all guys and only one woman, were all wearing cycling gear (called a “kit”) with shoes that clipped into the pedals.

After several grueling rides on hills on that heavy bike, I got a lighter bike, and after several embarrassing falling-down incidents I learned how to confidently clip in and out of the pedals, which are called “clipless“.

I needed to learn this new language.

Besides the hills, the learning curve was steep.

There was all that lingo, and I found out that I also needed to learn how to look and act like a real cyclist.

The other riders explained as we pedaled how to draft – how close to the person in front of me?! – how to do a pace line – a what??! All the lingo and riding etiquette too.

Why would anyone do that?

IMG 5927
2012 Granfondo NY before the unexpected 100-mile ride!

Then I heard it. They were talking about what…a century? WHAT IS THAT? Why would anyone ride 100 miles?

I had no intention of doing that, but I was hooked.

I met the group at dawn for a couple of hours ride several times a week and often rode on my own. I got a bike computer and a much cooler helmet. I found out that I was pretty strong from all those years riding that heavy bike and lugging kids.

I learned to draft confidently and to take my turn in a pace line training with the group and training with my son, who was a rising professional cyclist. He encouraged me to join a team and sign up for local races, a super scary and empowering experience that I never imagined I would do.

And my kids bought me a new bike!

Here’s how it happened…

IMG 5459
Still love riding my bike!

Years went by. I got a power tap wheel, and hired a coach to help me train for a metric century: 62miles, the longest distance I thought I could complete in the New York Granfondo in 2012.

I was feeling wonderful on that gorgeous, blue sky day in early May.

Among thousands of riders, our group split up and I got off course. I kept riding, up, up, and ended up at the top of Bear Mountain, with no idea that I had been following the 100mile route! It was 40 miles to the finish, which I completed feeling great. The feeling of surprise and elation was indescribable, and built confidence, enabling me to complete multiple centuries after that one, as well as things I never thought I would do, like entering and winning a powerlifting competition in 2019 at age 65. I plan to do that again next year when I’m 70 – because now it’s a thing I know I can do!

Polli deadlift win powerlifting
Powerlifting win in 2019

Hope to hear your stories of doing things you didn’t plan to do, and how you felt about it.

I’ll bet it was great!

Onward~

Polli

 

 

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