This is a pic of me dragging my sorry newbie ass up a hill in Shady Canyon. It was taken secretly by my mentor, Luke Mysse. He posted it on Twitter and Facebook with the caption “Steve Averill, killin’ it.”
And that is why you need a mentor – so they will lie about you.
And you will march through your newbie orientation at least projecting the image of a winner, even if you and your mentor know better.
I had a lot of newbie questions when we met up that day in the parking lot of Irvine Lanes at Culver and Michelson. Questions like:
“Do you wear underwear under your biking shorts?”
“Will my wife ever stop worrying about me doing this?”
“Why does my back hurt?”
“Where can I get a second job so I can afford all the stuff I want to buy?”
We hit the road and the first thing I learned about was efficient pedal strokes. “Think of scraping gum off your shoe and remember to pull”, Luke told me. The pulling was huge and made a big impact. I didn’t realize how hard I was working and it made sense that I was only pushing. I’d been biking that way for 40 years! Pulling was never an option. At one point he showed me one foot pedaling and that also helped.
We did some drafting and I learned the basics of road safety. I was incredibly anxious out on the road with cars. Especially when we crossed MacArthur down by Fashion Island. I am still struggling to clip in after unclipping and I have to look down to do it. I learned that it’s a pretty good way to get hit by a car worrying about whether you’re clipped in or not. So I figured out how to keep pedaling without being clipped in. That reduced some more anxiety.
I learned that I simply won’t always be able to keep up. If someone is stronger, you just gotta let them go. I guess the term is being “dropped” but if that means I don’t have to stop to catch my breath then I’ll suffer the humiliation. One look at Luke’s calves told me all I needed to know – when he decides to pour it on I’m left in his wake. I learned humility that day too.
Shifting is still an issue and I really need to figure that out. There are so many times when I am just in the wrong gear.
Luke took it easy on me. He knew I wasn’t ready for a 50 miler. That I appreciated. A mentor knows the limits of his student and ensures that he has some hope left over for the next ride.
At the end I was thrilled with all of it. Even the nervous parts in hindsight had made it fun. How many times in our lives now do we get nervous? It was a great day, made better by being with someone I could learn from and be inspired by.