Last time on Victoria Lee’s T4K Blog, we left off after I had completed Skills Clinic 1, scraped and bruised but still with high hopes. I was expecting the first time for me to start tearing up on the bike to be during a particularly long day on the summer ride itself - not the following week during Skills Clinic 2.

To quote Kayla Meyertons, our Fitness & Safety Chair, “biking is STUPID hard”.

I like to imagine that I’m good at hiding this, but I am the worst when it comes to comparing myself against other people. This really got me on the second day of Training Camp about a week and a half ago. At just a few miles in, I was already feeling so tired from the 25-mile ride the day before, and as a result, I was consistently falling behind my ride group. I felt like crying on every single uphill. At one point, I was so out of breath from climbing hills and holding in tears, that one of our coaches had to pull me off the road and force me to eat some energy gel. It felt and tasted disgusting but did the trick of giving me a little boost.

It is somewhat hilarious that it took until Training Camp just two weeks ago for it to hit me that I and 70 something other teammates have committed to an incredibly long and difficult journey.

Yesterday I went on my first weekday ride. (None of the rides fit into my schedule during the first week, and I was out of commission last week due to a swollen ankle caused by ant bites from Training Camp.) We took the Shoal Creek route - one that I’ve been on twice during the two Skills Clinics. It had been two weeks since I had taken that route, but I could remember every exact place I had fallen. I really hoped that I wouldn’t repeat them.

And thankfully I made it through the ride without gaining any new battle scars! I am honestly so proud of myself for the improvement that I have made. I remember struggling to clip in and out during the first Skills Clinic, even toppling over twice while waiting at red lights with my right shoe clipped in (this still happens sometimes though). I remember barely making it 500 feet out of the CPE parking lot before falling twice at the same intersection and ending up having to walk across, fighting back tears of frustration at myself, during the second Skills Clinic.

During this past month, while the 2018 team experienced the first of many struggles on our bikes, the 2019 team was interviewed and selected. This past Sunday during the New Riders Picnic as I stood in the RecSports room and looked out at the familiar faces of my teammates and the unfamiliar faces of the 2019 riders, I realized that just a year ago I had been standing in the same RecSports room with the same teammates, yet at that time we didn’t even know each other’s names or even faces. And the majority of us had yet to experience the challenge of cycling. Since that day a year ago, we have come so far, and I am even more excited to see how much further we will go in the next 6 months until Day Zero and the 3 months after that as we cross the U.S. and Canada to Alaska.

Until then, there is still so much left that I need to work on - climbing hills faster, taking off one of my hands without swerving wildly, not getting incredibly nervous before the start of every single ride… Frankly, I am definitely one of the weakest riders on our team since I came from a terribly sedentary lifestyle. But I hope that, every time I feel like crying or giving up on an uphill, I can remember that I am blessed to have the choice and a healthy body to do this, unlike so many that we ride for each day.

Miles ridden: 129
Number of falls: 8

Days until the ride: 197