Written by Melissa Appleby
In 2017 a friend convinced me to sign up for my first ever triathlon. My preparation in the lead up to the race was simple - a bit of Googling, a few very brief pool visits and a last minute panic purchase of a new bike, which I “broke in” by my riding around my street a few times... ok twice.
It didn’t take long into the race to realise how grossly underprepared I was. Once my feet hit the water’s edge I was seriously questioning what I was even doing there. And at this point I still had 200m of harbour, 8km of road and 2km of pathway between me and the finish line.
3... 2... 1... GO! And we were off.
The thing about open water swims is that they aren’t anything like swimming in a pool. And in a race, it’s like a washing machine out there. A mix of arms, legs and big salt water splashes. Thankfully I managed to find my way out and around the buoy and back on to dry land without rescue.
The first transition was a little clunky. I went through the mental note of all the gear I needed over and over before I got the bike off the rack - helmet, shoes, water... helmet, shoes, water...
At this point I was feeling pretty good about myself. I’d come out of the swim about middle of the pack, transitioned quickly and was out on the road in no time. But it was all UP hill from there.
The cycle was challenging, made worse by the fact that I had bought a bike far too small for me and hadn’t spent any time learning how to ride it! And don’t even get me started on the gear changes.
It was a slow and humbling climb up and around the hill, with each lap taking longer to complete than the last. I was passed countless times, but I was determined to finish! Racking the bike after a tough 30 minutes was a huge relief and I was glad to have two feet back on the ground for the run. Probably my most comfortable stage of all three.
That last few hundred meters to the finish line was exhilarating. I was totally exhausted but felt an overwhelming sense of achievement. After 51 minutes I was hooked and I’ve been chasing that finish line feeling for the last 12 months.
A lot has changed since Race 1. I’ve upgraded to a road bike (properly fitted by the guys at Park Bikes) and embraced cycling shoes; including all of the stacks that come with them!
One Try-a-Tri quickly became 6 x enticers, 4 x sprint distances, 2 x Aquathlons, 1 x Sydney to Gong ride, a Gear Up Girl ambassadorship and a new goal - to finish a 70.3 in 2018. Safe to say I’m addicted..
I’ll be honest, I’m still TRI-ing to love the bike stage, but every ride it gets easier and more enjoyable. Plus what’s not to love about cycling jerseys and socks? Gearing up might just be the best part!
Sometimes it takes a little push to get started, but you won’t regret it! Come and give cycling a go at the Heart Foundation Gear Up Girl, Sunday March 11.