Pants off to DC

It is with great pleasure and wholehearted support that Swift Industries donated touring gear to three amazing ladies involved in this year’s WeBiketoDC ride from New York City to the National Bike Summit in Washington DC to represent a diversity of women’s voices at the summit.

Our third story comes to us from Kristine Sepulvida,  from WE Bike NYC

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There was a moment a few weeks ago that, after months of planning and preparation, I didn’t think I was going to be able to ride with #webiketodc. I was riding back from a training ride with a fellow rider, on my new road bike that I had purchased especially for the trip, when a cab sped up to try to beat me through an intersection and I was unable to steer my bike out of his path in time. I walked away from that collision, but with a concussion and a number of nasty contusions, most achingly on both of my hands and left knee. Days after the accident, my neck, back, and hips joined the painful list.

When I got home from the doctor and a much needed “holy crap, how am I still walking?” dinner, I texted Liz, founder of WE Bike NYC, what had happened and that I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to go on our trip. She told me to rest and see how I felt after a couple of days, which is exactly what my doctor, best friend, and mother said to me. While that was the right decision for my body, my mind was not having it.

I was already aware of my pre-existing limitations as the least experienced and definitely the slowest of the riders, was already insecure about my abilities at 100% strength, health, and effort. Now I was damaged and more than I was concerned about aggravating my injuries by biking through a brutal winter, I was worried about how I was going to hold back the rest of the team even more than I already knew I would.

My training for the rest of the weeks leading up to the ride were limited. I would start to feel better and then do something stupid like slip and fall on a patch of ice or ride my bike 11 miles to work with a heavy backpack. Liz reminding me that we had a sponsored WomanTours SAG wagon if I needed to bail out and that I had a Swift Industries saddle bag that was supported by my rack and not by my shoulders.

But still the panic continued and overcompensation began. My brain switched over from how to get in actual rides around my work schedule to gear craziness. I packed and repacked rain gear, snow pants, three different kinds of energy gels, enough protein bars to build a quinoa fort. 24 hours before we rode out, I installed fenders and an extra bottle cage. My silhouette, swaddled in three layers on top and two below at the meet-up spot on Thursday morning could only be described as Michelin Man-esque.

About twenty miles into the ride, I struggled. Despite the biting wind, I was sweating and everything below the waist hurt. I couldn’t maintain a decent pace. Even with the accident, even with being off my cardio game for three weeks, I shouldn’t have declined that quickly. When my group stopped at an intersection, I took a moment for a deep breath…and to take off my snow pants.

The difference was incredible. My legs felt lighter and my hips stopped aching. It was such an improvement, I would not shut up about it, which I’m sure my ride group appreciated as they tried to figure out where we were. I jammed them into my saddle bag and kept on pedaling. It took another 40 miles before my back acted up, far exceeding my expectations and made better by that evening’s rest. That was the pattern for the rest of the ride. I would go much farther than I thought I could (albeit slower than my 100% speed) and at some point, my back would complain until it was silenced by a pillowtop mattress in a new city.

There are several obvious lessons in this story. There’s definitely a lot of mind over matter, believe in yourself, healing power of goodwill. All of these lessons are important ones, but ones that you know going into this sort of purposeful adventure. But I take away “some times gear will save you, but when in doubt, take off your pants”.

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