I’ve been riding and professionally racing bikes for the past five years and I’ve loved traveling the country, spending time with teammates and competitors, and also pushing myself to my limits in the races. For the past two years I’ve raced road with Team Kenda and cyclocross with Team Planet Bike and I’ve had a blast.
I had 75 race days in 2009 and I soaked up every minute of it knowing that as much fun as I had racing my bike I also wanted to step it back and spend more time at home with my husband. We’ve always wanted a family and in the first 5 years of our marriage we’ve done plenty of bike races and Ironmans (he chose the latter!) and had fairly few commitments at home other than our 12 pound Shi Tzu mix. We’ve had a lot of fun doing those things but we were ready for a different type of challenge and we knew that meant my racing was going to have to go on hiatus for awhile. So I did my last planned race at the end of June and by early August I was pregnant. Hey, we were on a schedule here!
I’ve had plenty of teammates and friends go through pregnancy and stay active and I knew I would have similar goals. I even had teammates that raced in the early months of their pregnancy. I wasn’t exactly planning on doing that, although I do admit to racing at Masters Road Nationals in Louisville in early August. I had signed up for the races in early July thinking our plans wouldn’t progress so quickly. Despite the tens of thousands of miles my husband and I have logged on our bikes over the years we are apparently very fertile (and we are grateful for that)! So I went because the race entries had already been paid and I could at least visit with some friends from across the nation.
My goals for the week were meager though, and I vowed to listen to my body and moderate my efforts. Twenty miles into the road race portion of the Nationals I felt like I couldn’t take deep breaths and then once the rain, thunder, and lightning came I raised the white flag and dropped out. No unnecessary big risks for me. I flip flopped about even starting the next race, a criterium, but decided I would ride conservatively and if I got a sense of anyone in the seven rider field (yes, the fields at Masters Nationals are pitifully small) riding dangerously I would call it quits. It was fine and I rode at the front much of the race — happy to go a steady speed and sprint it out at the end. Coming around the final corner I couldn’t quite match the jump of one rider and ended up crossing the line for a silver medal. A slightly better way to end my racing than a “Did Not Finish.”
Note: I don’t exactly recommend racing while knowingly pregnant and most doctors discourage it as well. Your heart rate has the potential of getting too high. Standard disclaimer applies — check with your doctor before starting any new activities if you’re pregnant.
The bike is so much more to me than just a racing machine though. I’ve been a relatively regular commuter for the past ten years — riding my bike just makes me happy. Sure pregnancy gives me a great excuse to not feel obligated to do intervals and train but I still need to ride. Riding in to Planet Bike, where I work in warranty and customer service, would still need to be part of my daily routine. I know that it’s perfectly safe and beneficial to continue to be active throughout my pregnancy and commuting is a great way to do that.
Now I just ride with a new sense of myself. I try to leave a little earlier and not rush my eleven mile commute. I ride a little slower and enjoy my surroundings a bit more. I’ve even started taking the long way in most mornings as it takes me through the University of Wisconsin Arboretum and past two of Madison’s spectacular lakes. There is something so calming and beautiful about the morning’s low sun angle as it shines through the fall leaves and makes the water on the lakes sparkle. This time of year is my favorite for commuting.
As I’m just starting my 16th week (due April 4!) these are certainly still the easy days of riding. I was lucky enough to not experience much morning sickness in the first trimester and actually I found I felt better being on my bike than laying on the couch! A small bump is just starting to show in my lower abdomen and riding my cyclocross bike is still fairly comfortable. And the mild fall weather has been perfect thus far. Sure, I’ll cave and drive when it’s really cold or rainy. I like to think I’m tough but I also don’t see the need to be too careless. Living in Madison I’m used to lots of cold and snow and last year rode through the winter with studded tires. I’m hoping to ride as long as I can into the winter but I’m also taking things one day at a time!
I plan to blog throughout the pregnancy about commuting and biking and just staying active in general. A friend who skied in the morning and gave birth that evening is one of my inspirations. I’ll be writing one or two entries a month and would love any feedback or suggestions from readers. I hope you’ll share in my adventures in pregnancy as I attempt to stay active and keep riding for two!