Monday, February 8, 2010


(Photos: Top - You're right, the girl in the picture is NOT Lee Moebeck, but she totally looks like her. Below - Lee's first tri bike. At least she removed the basket. Way Below - The real Lee Moebeck putting the anchor back where she found it.)

By Lee Moebecknever trust a triathlete

Never trust a triathlete. At least not a veteran and especially not if you're a newbie. I did ... and here's my story. I get the shakes when my mind ventures back to that moment the guys lured me into, “...a fun ride down to Northfield. Yep, wind at our backs both directions and you can draft off of us the entire time!" At that point I was so new I didn't even know what drafting was so I told them I don't drink. They smiled at each other and winked, evil curling up the corner of their mouths into twisted Grinch-like smirks.

After some fictitious promises about the ride being an easy one and the slow pace they would set, I agreed to meet them both that Saturday for my first long ride. My longest training ride had been about 20 miles and I wanted to see what it was like to step it up a notch. Riding out with the veterans was more than enough to get me excited and get my adrenaline flowing.

Let me tell you about the bike I had at the time. Like I said, I was new. Brand new. I had a Schwinn from Target. Not just any Schwinn. One that had most likely been recalled for faulty parts and that was about five years old. I climbed up in my garage and drug it down from the rafters about a month prior to this adventurous ride, blew off the cob webs that had nearly cemented to it, and put a random amount of air in the tires. I had no idea you were even supposed to grease the chain and so I left that for the elves to do.

Saturday morning 7:00 am. I rode to our starting point very optimistic. I had eaten a good breakfast and had two Goos in the back of my brand new jersey. The way the veterans talked, the ride would last just a couple of hours (this always equates to two in my mind) so I was set. The boys looked like they were dressed for a photo shoot with matching bike shorts and jerseys. They had enough water bottles and snacks to create their own water stop. I was in 'The Club' now!

I set the pace out of north Lakeville trying not to let my excitement push me to go out too hard too soon. I wanted to prove myself at least a little, or at least not embarrass them too much. After all, they were cool and I was new.

We rode south and past several large farms. They talked and laughed and I tried to chime in, cautious to not talk too much because I had not ridden with anyone and I found that talking made my heart pound and drained a touch of energy from me. The older one asked how I was doing and said my pace was good. "Nice and strong, especially considering that bike you're on..." I asked them about bikes- costs, brands, benefits. Soon I learned that I was riding a non-salvageable piece of rot that was better off left for dead like a decaying carcass on the side of the road. My eyebrows crinkled and I listened to the sound of my rusty chain.

We hit Northfield and I optimistically asked them if we were at the turn around point. I had gone through nearly all of my water and one of my goo's. My legs were no longer flesh but made of lead and my feet were swelling up. My bike had cheap plastic regular pedals and thus I had to rely on the traditional pushing down method. I looked at their clips and pedals in awe. They told me if I were able to clip in my pedaling would be a bit easier. Instead of responding in the affirmative I was expecting, one of them said they had called their friend that lived further down in south Northfield and told him we would be stopping by there before we turned around. He explained that this friend lived on several acres and had a lake and we could all do a short swim to refresh before we headed back to Lakeville.

Always listen to your intuition. My stomach started turning and I felt the fight or flight symptoms rising. Something was amiss. He promised it wasn't much further. I asked if there were any hills and both veterans said "Oh, just one or two. Not too bad." So, we rode on, and on, and on, and on, into eternity.

Long gone were the farms with cows. I saw herds of wilder beasts running down slopes, hooves pounding the ground with dust clouds trailing behind them. Long gone were civilization and cars, potential rest stops and water bottle refills. My legs were totally numb when we rounded a bend and hit the first "small hill." I actually stopped in my tracks. Not that that took much effort because I had backed our solid pace down to something too slow for a school zone at 3 pm. I told the guys to go on ahead and I would catch up with them at the top. Off they went and it seemed only seconds passed before they were like ants in the distance, climbing higher and higher. I swallowed hard, sucked without reward at my empty water bottle, squeezed the life out of my last Goo and took off.

As I climbed Mount Everest, all the dwindling energy I had was suddenly gone. All my enthusiasm quickly burnt off like hair caught on fire. But I was determined and determination can get you places. Places you've never been. Places you hope to never go back to. Up, slowly up, I climbed. I saw airplanes go by that were at lower altitudes. I heard some rock climber yodel. I nearly had a nosebleed at that elevation. When I finally got to the top the boys were chatting away, riding in circles talking about who knew what and who had enough energy to care. Suddenly I hated them. Loathing their anorexic bodies, their cool, aerodynamic bikes, clips and helmets.

Just a few more miles they promised. Two and a half hours after leaving Lakeville we were finally at the turn around point. They dashed into the water and took off swimming. I collapsed to the ground and clung for life support, puffing away at my asthma inhaler until I was nearly high. I asked their friend if he had any antibiotics. I watched those two maniacs get half way across the lake when I had an idea. I would take off and start the ride back, that way I would get a good head start, hopefully wearing them out by forcing them to work hard to catch up with me. Also to be able to openly and freely groan in agony, saying things that no good woman should ever say at least in the presence of others. I made their friend promise not to tell them what I was up to until the very last minute as to ensure as much of a head start as possible.

I jumped gingerly onto my bike and took off. I rode as fast as I could which probably looking back equated to about 10mph. I hit the top of the giant hill and thanked God above that I was able to coast down it. Well, as I like to say, in the triathlon world what goes down must also go up and I realized we had been coming down several easy hills on the way to the south end of Northfield and so now I had to face what felt like a near constant climb back. Suddenly a truck went by and I could have sworn those two guys were hiding in the back, catching a ride to town. I pressed on. Finally I hit the city's main drag and turned around to see them coming up strong, smiling and talking the whole way. What I would have given to see them both get a blowout right then.

They promised to let me draft and explained what that meant. Have you ever drafted behind two cyclists or triathletes? You might as well be drafting a thin poll. I couldn't even hang on to their draft when they rode side by side. I told them to just go on, to let me die out there and keep my pride. To tell my family goodbye and that I had given it a good fight. They would have nothing of it. They wanted to see me suffer. They wanted to see me pass out on my bike. They slowed down even more, offering words of encouragement, attempting to make friendly chatter. I hissed at them and kept my head down. I tried sticking out my thumb to traffic to catch a ride but no Minnesota nice manifested itself. I tried to call on my cell phone for help but we were so far away from anything that my phone was out of range.

It seemed like days dragged by until we finally got back. I went home, got an ice pack, laid down and ate an entire bag of trail mix. I realized at that point I had potentially been tortured for the sake of entertainment; for the pleasure of two twisted veteran triathletes. I laughed as I replenished my ice pack and gulped down a half gallon of water.

Often times I look back at that ride and smile. It's not the destination so much as the journey and that holds true for so many things in life. Even though the ride was long and treacherous, I learned many things about endurance, camaraderie, what consistent training can yield, how wilder beasts run and the benefits of the right bike seat. Get out and give it your all and then push it even further on occasion. Go off your beaten path, experience a path someone else takes or forge one entirely new yourself but most of all enjoy the ride.