I've recently decided to participate in the MS 150 bike ride, a two-day event to raise money for multiple sclerosis. That's right, over 75 miles a day. I'm not exactly sure why I decided this was a good idea, as my previous daily record is 66 and that was only by the grace of god and a very nice HMF.
So here I am.
Realizing that I may have bitten off more thant I could chew, I decided to actually try trainining for it. Not heavy duty, mind you, but follow a mileage schedule, and atleast get out on a bike every few days.
This would've worked out perfectly, had this little trip to Rwanda not come up.
It being Africa, bikes are plentiful here, but not the type you'd want to spend a long time training on. One gear. No pedals. Shoddily made. Break pads made out of used up tires. I had emailed our country manager before coming, asking if there were spin bikes available at the hotel gym. He didn't know, but he did offer to put me on a specially designed milk bike (to carry up to 40 liters of liquid milk to market) and let me ride around the hills of Kigali.
When I arrived, it turned out the hotel fitness center was closed for renovation.
Me: "Where's all the equipment?" I asked.
Hotel clerk: "Storage,"
Me: "Could you pull out a bike..?"
Clerk: "No madam, it's in storage."
Me: "Are there any other hotels nearby with fitness centers?"
Me: "How far?"
Clerk: "You could jog there in 5 minutes."
Me: "Can I use it for free?"
Clerk: "No madam, you'll have to pay $5"
Me: "Could I just jog there and back for free?"
I did manage to sneak in to the neighboring gym, under my co-worker's name, using his room number (he took pains to tell me that I couldn't actually stay there with him. That was one weird conversation).
Unfortunately, for all that effort, those bikes were crap. I managed a few piddly workouts, but overall, nothing good.
This week, my female coworker introduced me to her local gym. It has torn up carpet on the floor and no airconditioning, but the spin bikes atleast spin (although their seats leave something to be desired). On Sunday I managed to get in a whopping awesome ride, but I nearly did myself in.
I am a woman of the prairie. Kigali is 5,000 feet above sea-level. My first week, it felt like my wisdom teeth were trying to gnaw their way out my ear drums every morning. It's just one of those things I've noticed when in higher elevations. My body literally DOES NOT COMPUTE. But still, I completely forgot that I wouldn't be nearly as efficient with my oxygen as I normally am, and proceeded to wind myself into stars (and a few stripes). I managed to continue, but received no sympathy from my colleagues at the pool, who pointed out that I hadn't eaten much that day, either.
Ok, so I'm clearly not a training expert.
And then there's the clothing. Bikers aren't exactly known for their loose clothing. Knowing I'd put long hours in, I brought my spandex shorts with the padded crotch but covered myself with an appropriately loose tshirt, thinking this would hide me from prying eyes.
Tonight, I wandered into the same gym to meet up with my coworker, who was running late. Unwittingly, I walked into a gym full of African men, who were very pleased to see me (and my spandex shorts!) Not to be deterred, I pretended it was perfectly normal for a mazungu women to be wearing next to nothing in a room of men, marched directly over to the bike, and let it kick my ass. My co-worker arrived a bit later and laughed at me, the lone piece of dough in a sea of delicious chocolate chips. "That guy next to you is staring at your butt", she whispered.
"That's not all they're staring at!" I told her.
So, please, support my pitiful efforts and donate to fight MS on my webpage. I'll keep updating you on my adventures in training - my idiocy has got to be worth something, right?