The Struggle Is Real

Some workouts are easy.

Some workouts are hard.

The hard workouts tire me out more than the easy workouts.

When I say hard, I don’t mean “wow, this is a difficult workout.” I mean “wow, I think I need to quit and never try this again.” That’s a hard workout.

This is how pretty much all of my bike workouts have been. I have made it a practice of calling them “workouts in mental toughness.”

The problem? I am really starting to HATE biking! This is an issue for me because I’ve always loved getting on the bike and heading out down the trail.

I have not been able to figure out why it is so hard. Why is the green bike so much different than the black bike?

A little background – Mark and I bought our bikes at a local bike shop years ago. The people there were VERY helpful and really made sure that the bikes were right for our body types and riding goals (recreational at the time). That’s my black bike. It has a big, fat, cushy seat on it. The bike shop guy warned that if I was going to be biking over 40 miles that the fat seats had a tendency to chafe. Not a problem. Why would anyone ever want to ride over 40 miles at a time. So I bought my black bike. I swapped out the original seat for a cushy seat. I went happily on my way.

About a year ago (maybe a little less) Mark ran across a bike. Same brand as ours. MUCH newer. Better features (brakes, gear shifters, larger wheels). We looked at it and looked at it trying to gauge whether or not it was the right size. It looked the same as ours, so we bought it. Or, should I say, we stole it? Because we all know that Mark won’t buy anything unless he can steal it. We got a VERY good deal on it.

Or did we?

With my Iron Cowboy waiting in the wings, I decided that I would train on the green bike. The seat (skinny, skinny, stupid seat) is more similar to Julie’s bike seat. I’ll be riding Julie’s road bike on my bike leg of the race. The gears are just like the gears on Julie’s bike. It made sense to train on the bike that would be most like what I’d be riding in the race. I knew it would take a bit for me to get used to a skinny saddle after so many years on a nice, cushy one.

Bring on the hate!

I have been struggling on this bike. I have been blaming the seat. I have pondered over and over again, why is the comfort of the seat having such an impact on my ability to ride? I have not been able to ride at a consistent 12mph pace on the green bike. With the larger wheels, I should have higher average speed. Everything has been so illogical while trying to ride this godawful green bike. I have come to dread Thursdays and Sundays (my bike days).

Yesterday as I was adjusting the seat for the umpteenth time trying to get it at the right level, I noticed something.

The frame has a SIZE on it! I mean, surely I knew this before, but why did I not know it before? I still took it out for my ride, certain that I had the seat adjusted properly. It seemed that if I had the seat at a proper height that having a frame that is FOUR inches smaller than my black bike wouldn’t make any difference. I also bought a pair of biking shorts with the cushion in the crotch. Julie recommended against this type of shorts. But I was still struggling in the saddle, so at the recommendation of my co-worker who SWEARS by them, I bought a pair. With the new pair of shorts, and the newly adjusted bike seat, I headed out confident in my ride.

No go. I got to my halfway point and got off the bike to sit and stare at the river and try to not cry. I didn’t want to get back on the bike. I texted Julie and Melissa and as always, they make me laugh and make me feel like I can do anything. After five minutes of texting and drinking water, I got back on the bike and headed back towards the truck. I decided that I needed to really be mindful of my body and really analyze what part of my body was hurting.

My butt was saddle sore from my ride last Thursday, but really….it was nothing that I haven’t deal with if I ride large mileage on my cushy seats. The saddle could NOT be the full story. My legs were fine. My legs have always been fine on the bike. They’re strong. They were not fatigued. Lower back. Upper neck. Both those locations along my spine were achy. The soreness in my seat previous to this had always overshadowed how my neck and back felt while I pedaled.

As I pedaled against the stupid headwinds that have plagued me for weeks now during my rides, I was really focusing on other parts of my body besides the saddle soreness and it became abundantly clear that this was a fit issue, not a seat issue.

When I got home I headed downstairs to do my yoga and began pondering the pros and cons of which bike I needed to train on.

  • Black bike fits me. Pro. I can get better hill work done because the black bike fits me.
  • Green bike does NOT fit me. Con.
  • Black bike has a cushy seat. Con. I won’t adjust to a skinny seat for my 33 mile bike leg by riding the black bike.
  • Green bike has a seat that I need to get used to. Pro.
  • Black bike gear shifters are different. Con. I’ll be shifting completely differently on Julie’s bike than I do on my black bike.
  • Green bike has shifters like I’ll be using in my race. Pro.
  • Green bike will make me HATE biking. Con. Con. Con!

As I did my yoga, the thing that I kept coming back to was how much I love biking and how much I’ve been hating it lately. This issue outweighs all other issues. I do not want to finish the race and vow to never get on a bike again. It’s not a sacrifice I’m willing to make.

I’ve ridden the green bike enough to be familiar with how the shifters work. This will not affect me adversely if I train on a bike with different gear shifts.

My leg of the race is only 33 miles. This is not a difficult distance for me. Doing this on a seat that I’m not used to may distract me during my race, but it won’t be enough to make me quit.

For my back’s sake, I’ll finish the next 19 weeks of training on my black bike. I will deal with whatever issues arise during my race. It’s more important to me to still love biking by the end of this event than it is for me to be comfortable on this event. It’s one day. A couple of hours. I can do anything for a couple of hours. I cannot do anything for 19 more weeks.


If anyone is looking for a 15.5 inch, Trek mountain bike, have I got a deal for you! I told Mark to sell it! I don’t even want to look at it anymore.

I am DONE struggling on it.

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