Wait a minute, we’re fish! We don’t ride bicycles! – Laurie Berkner Band, Let’s Go Swimming

Yeah, so there’s this thing called muscle memory. Mine have amnesia. Whoever coined the phrase “it’s just like riding a bike” to refer to something you can just pick up again at any time, was hopefully optimistic.

I haven’t been on a bicycle in years. Literally. And while I did not expect to just fly by 20 miles like it was nothing, I did think that with the running and swimming, I had built my endurance to a decent starting level.

The truth is, one endurance skill does not always translate. After Lance Armstrong ran his first marathon (NYC) he said he’d never do another one. Here’s a guy who so completely dominated cycling for years, and one little 26.2 mile race really took a lot out of him. Here’s an article on how the assumption of his training fitness didn’t bear out across disciplines. And, by the way, he went on to run more marathons, trained properly, and took significant time off his PRs.

So if Lance can’t jump off the bike and dominate running, why would I think that I could go from distance swimming and minor running to cycling with no effort?

Well, I didn’t really. I was realistic. But I did not expect to feel so wiped out. With a new road bike purchased, I got clip-in pedals and the shoes to go with it. Why not re-learn all at once? That was actually not the hard part at all. Clipped in shoes maximize your power transfer. My problem was the baseline difficulty of pacing, cadence, breathing, climbing hills, – you know, riding a bike.

I did less than 4 miles and I felt like I would pass out or lose a leg when I was done. The bike is always the longest part of a triathlon. I figured that if I can swim 2-3 miles, or run 5, surely I can crank out 20 on a bike! Well, I may soon, but I didn’t do it today on the first time out.

Thankfully, I have the records to remind myself that the first day I ran, I went all of 1.5 miles, half of it walking. The first day I swam, I did 300 yards, all backstroke, and felt dizzy. A couple months later, I’m finishing 5ks and swimming big distances. It won’t be long before I see those initial advances on the bike.

I’ll post pictures when I get a chance of the new get up, including my Phish parking lot style racing jersey. It’s clever. I like clever.

For tonight, it’s good to be back in training, but man, it’s not easy. If it were, we’d all look like cover models.


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