Taking the yellow jersey

Throwing my hands in the air at the finish line as my trusty Specialized bike crested the hill, I glanced at the clock in the corner of the flat screen TV. It read something in the 44-minute range.

That gave me the overall series lead by 30-seconds.

Oh yes. I was in the yellow jersey. Put me on the top of the podium, give me a stuffed Lion, some flowers and kiss me on each cheek.

OK, so this will only last a few days, until the next women is scheduled to compete in the virtual race. And the yellow jersey I speak of is virtual, too. But if I’m going to make up stories to tell myself, it might as well be about victory and goodness rather than negativity masked as “reality.”

Yesterday was my first event as part of the Indoor Racing Series at Tom’s Pro Bikes, one of the local shops I frequent for my cycling needs. I support Tom’s when possible. After all, when I come in with my rear tire stuck because I put the chain into the hardest gear combination instead of the easiest gear combination, they show me what to do without making me feel like an idiot.

I registered for this eight-race event as a way to work on my cycling during the winter and a way to stay motivated. I have a trainer set up in the basement where I pedal away to nowhere while listening to my eclectic iTunes collection or podcasts of my favorite NPR shows. But that gets boring and stale and difficult to stay motivated. This indoor race series would be a good opportunity to try something different, learn something new and get in some good workouts.

The first course we rode was the Presque Isle Time Trial course only with the addition of a steep hill at the end of the 20K. You know, just for fun.

I was the only person registered for this particular time slot so it was just me against the CompuTrainer and the finishing time of a woman named Carolyn who had done the race the day before.

The CompuTrainer is kind of like a treadmill for your bike. Put into a trainer, the machine controls the resistance on your bike, so you feel as if you are climbing, in flats or coasting downhill. You shift your bike just as you would on the road. The bells and whistles are pretty cool and the constant feedback on your speed, wattage and heart rate (if, say, you remember your heart rate monitor strap) helps you not only in the actual “race ” but in learning about your own fitness and how to best use your power and strengths. I’m actually looking forward to this cycling education, interested in how it will play out when I get back on the roads in the spring.

More importantly, the whole event is just fun. It’s new and different. Should other people join my race time, I would get to ride with people I would never be able to keep up with on the actual road. Even by myself, I get to push just a bit harder than I normally would, if it was just me, some old school Michael Jackson and Bill Littlefield in my basement.

And occasionally, I’ll get to picture myself in a yellow jersey.

What better way to daydream away the winter?

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