My sister and I have started my training for the Friends for Life Bike Rally, which is fast approaching. The organizers have given me permission to ride the Adolphustown – Kingston lap, which is about fifty-five kilometres.

“I’m not Superman,” one of my friends once stated when my eyes widened at what she had accomplished on a bicycle. Well, same goes for me. I’m a fifty-six-year-old commuter, nothing fancy. And yet, here I am. If I can do this, you can do this.

In preparation, I tried to beg/borrow/rent a proper road bike for the event. Sometimes I can make these things happen, but not this time. I tried two bike shops, family, friends. Every time, I came up empty. Instead of giving up, I got new mountain bike clip-in shoes (which is what I used exclusively in Toronto) and accepted a very kind gift of cycling shorts and a jersey from my sister. Miss Jackson—my trusty mountain bike—and I are preparing to take on the distance together.

Yesterday, my sister arrived on an intimidating, fancy-schmancy road bike. She hasn’t ridden distances in awhile and we didn’t know what I was capable of yet, so we started light: twenty-six kilometres in the east end of town, through farmlands and quiet subdivisions along the St Lawrence River.
The one relatively hilly stretch—along Abbey Dawn Road—was the only real challenge, although because of the mountain bike, I wasn’t pacing very quickly: my sister politely slowed the pace so I could keep up. We still did the distance in a  respectable time of one hour. Then, I cycled another twelve kilometres to get groceries. Distance won’t be the challenge for me.

Nothing is sore this morning, nor did I develop any rashes or burns. People pooh-pooh us commuters as “not fit”, but the average twenty kilometres I do daily hasn’t done my training any harm. The big challenge will be speed: Miss Jackson and I need to pick up the pace a little. We have a similar training ride planned for tomorrow morning. I’m going to try to convince my sister to increase the distance to Joyceville Road. Meanwhile, I need to find ways to jettison unnecessary weight and increase speed.

The next upgrades are a second water bottle cage and an exchange on the back tire of a slick for the knobby (I always ride with a front slick) for Miss Jackson, and for me, more protein in my diet.

I’m eating everything in sight with my morning coffee and looking forward to tomorrow’s longer ride. The lesson for me is to not give up when the universe presents challenges. A little problem solving goes a long way.