becoming a bikerider

A couple of years ago, I had my first - and hopefully, last - whirlwind romance. It was one of those bad choices you regret making later, and try to justify to yourself by blaming an ego that had gotten owned by a recent break up, right around the time Mr. Whirlwind-So-Not-Right came spinning along. It only lasted a few months, during which I saved a pile of money with plans to visit him for an unreasonably long period of time. Our plans of happily ever after fell through after a few weeks of daily vapid fights that included [hilarious in hindsight] accusations of gold-digger-ism [me: " make $30k..."], and claims that I'd gone to law school to find a rich husband [me: "...but...but then why would I take two bar exams...?"].
That February, when I was supposed to be in love and stateside, I was in Tokyo, scrolling through Twitter. I met Tim Johnson and Chandler a couple of weeks later, and things haven't been quite the same, since.

Seven months later, I did go to Boston and NYC. I brought that pile of saved up, fuck you, break up money with me, and sunk it into a compact Quarq CinQo with 165mm Rotor cranks. A good friend introduced me to a guy, too, and we've been going strong for the past year. I call those two the best investments I've ever made.
Oh, and his name? Mike Sherry. Of Bikeriders. Or, as I like to boast, The Guy that Picked Up My FTP and Pulled It Up 15%. And, also, The Guy that Puts Up with My BS and Meltdowns. But more simply, just "Coach."

I finally got to meet Mike, in person, while I was in NYC [the introduction was remote and we've been working together via e-mails and TrainingPeaks since last year], in the new Bikeriders space. It's not finished yet, but it looks pretty baller. Oh, and did I mention they have a Bikeriders-branded Sprinter?
I'm not only gushing praises because Mike bought me coffee or sat me down to talk about my training. The latter actually made me slightly uncomfortable, like in the way talking to my gynecologist can be a little weird. Except this felt more intimate. I don't care about my cervix as much as I do my w/kg ratio, and this guy knows everything.

By everything, I mean every pedal-stroke, heart beat, and gradient climbed. My shitty rides, my good ones, and how to make me my legs cry. It's almost unnerving how my scheduled workouts will hit the exact watt range to have me toeing the line but never quite going over it. How I'll wobble to work, but still recover for whatever's scheduled the next day.
Weak legs aside, it's been a somewhat uncomfortable ride for another reason. As a commitment-phobe prone to bolting at the first sign of interest lasting longer than 48 hours, Mike's near-clairvoyance can be unsettling. There is blind faith and trust implicit in any relationship with a stranger, but this becomes more acute when that stranger is labeled a coach, and morphs into someone who encourages testing your pain threshold and oxygen deprivation limits on a near-daily basis. It gets creepier when you take into consideration the fact that I'm paying him to do this to me. And that I totally enjoy it.

Despite my masochist tendencies, the enjoyment I derive from training isn't due to Mike yelling at me or otherwise advising me to shut up and deal with it. He's never done either, opting instead to listen patiently to my occasional psychotic meltdowns and complaints via email. I like the daily pushing and pulling of my limits, and the pain that can linger through the workday not only because it gets me riding regularly and holds me accountable to someone, but because it's effecient, effective, and easy. All I have to do is follow Mike's instructions, upload my power file, and let him deal with whatever's going on with my legs, lungs and heart. Meanwhile, I selfishly get to put a check mark next to the most important thing on my to do list ["ride"], do feel like I'm doing some diet damage control, and get on with my day. Which is to say that I'm paying for his time, but I'm also paying to free up a lot of mine.
It's been a win-win situation so far, even with my lack of wins/racing/accomplishments. I came back to Tokyo to find a week's worth of training rides planned out on my TrainingPeaks account, and had to smile. As much as I loved the easy cruising around Prospect Park, it was time to get back to work. I turned on my fan, clipped in, and warmed up for the kind of whirlwind fun that's totally worth repeating.

getting faux-ched

So, it’s getting warmer out. I mean, it’s shitty out now, but tells me we’re going to have an awesome weekend [starting Thursday, of course]. This also means layering and hiding behind coats is no longer an option. Time for everything to start getting shorter and tighter!
Wait...shorter? Tighter? Um...I am pointing to my still extant muffin top and...hi, wait, what???
A part of me kind of wants to tell spring to fuck off for a little longer. I’m pretty sure I haven’t lost any of that weight I gained the first year of law school which YEARS AGO. I mean, I can stay in denial for at least another 3 years, but with every women’s magazine on the planet touting ways to get into shape for “bikini season” [cue massive internal groaning], I’m well aware that I’m falling short.


To say that I started cycling to stay become fit would be like saying Tiger Woods is unfaithful. Not entirely inaccurate, but in both cases, we’ve managed to find something else along the way that piques our interests and addiction ensues. Unlike Tiger, I’ve been a willing participant in broadcasting my lack of game cycling skills, but honestly, guys, failure is exhausting.
And when you only have hardcore training plans and/or Chris “Imma make you do intervals until your heart feels like it’ll pop, then you can rest for 3 seconds before we do it all again because you want to be like Lance, don’t you?” Carmichael available to whip me into some semblance of shape, I was feeling a bit overwhelmed. And while I’m completely okay being the slowest cyclist on the planet, I still finagled my way into a meeting this past weekend with a coach.



Enter Dave Sommerville. One of the handful of Cat 1s in NY, and one of three [yes, three] Cat 1s that work at NYC Velo. His UCI card has two “1”s and a “2,” which he wants to turn into a “1.” This would make him a triple Cat 1 in road, cyclocross, and track. His training plans are like from another universe of fast and painful.
I know this, and he knows this, which is why he’s not really my coach [more like my faux-ch]. But because DS is an awesome guy, for the price of dinner, I got a good two hours to form some sort of structure to my crazy pedaling. The man’s been racing pretty much as long as longer than I’ve been alive, so a lot of dinner consisted of me shutting my mouth and just listening [and scribbling]. He made most of his suggestions to me sound easy, but I suppose that comes with the territory when doing 1400+ laps around a 50 degree banked velodrome is your definition of fun.


I was sent home with some solid advice on where to start, reasonable goals to strive for [even without a road bike! Yay!], a stack of literature, some goodies [not that jersey though, more on that later], and the assurance that I have yet another pair of eyes looking out for an affordable, geared “hobbit bike.” I spent a good chunk of the rest of the night scouring ebay, though not much is popping up in my size. Of course, a little more digging revealed quite the beaut, but if I had $3k to blow, I’d like to think that I wouldn’t still be pulling at my pudge and pouting [but it’s not about the bike...right, Lance? RIGHT?!].
Okay, it's not about the pudge, either. But if I'm going to show up to my graduation in Lycra, I'd like to at least look fast doing it.
So I got some new goals, some more body fat to lose, and a motherfucking training plan, son! Now let's see what I can do with myself by graduation...