2017 Bike Easy Challenge - New Rider’s Perspective
Yarvelle Draper King shares her story about bike riding in the Challenge
Yarvelle grew up in New Orleans Lower 9 th Ward, attended St. David Elementary School, Alfred Lawless Jr. High and graduated from Joseph S. Clark Sr. High. Currently an AARP card holder.
“My older brother Prahngar “Cookie” Draper is the reason I joined the “The Bike Easy Challenge”. He was the Challenge Champion for our Retired-NOLA team. Although he is an avid bike rider and regularly participates in bike challenges, I definitely was not. I had not ridden regularly since college. About two years ago, he’d text messaged me a picture of a “fat bike” he’d bought and customized. To me it looked like a motor bike, without the motor and hand controls. When I actually saw his “fat bike”, at his house, I was captivated. So when my next birthday rolled around my husband and three adult children bought one for me. Of course everyone at my birthday party wanted to see me ride it. Uh!! I wasn’t sure how that would go, since it had been a few decades since I had ridden. I stepped out on the faith that the process was still coded within me, and off I went. I was relieved when I finished my ride down the driveway and back! I rode it a couple other times to the mailbox, but that was about it.
When my brother called to ask me to join his team and ride in the challenge, out of loyalty to him, I said yes. As usual, the devil was going to be in the details. I needed a place to ride, where I did not have to deal with traffic and I would need to transport my bike to wherever that was going to be. One of my neighbors suggested I consider riding at the elementary school parking lot about a mile away from my house. I set a goal of riding 100 miles over the 31 days of the challenge, but had no idea if I could actually manage that. Despite the details, I just needed to make it happen. That is generally how I run my life.
Getting the “fat bike” in and out of the car was definitely a challenge especially on the days I did not have my husband or sister to help me. Over time, I learned how to get it in and out more efficiently so I could manage it alone. My sister sometimes walked while I rode and I encouraged my husband to join the challenge, so he rode along with me some days. Using GPS tracking to confirm each mile, was a reward system that helped me maintain perspective. I also learned a few other things along the way that helped me improve. My brother brought up taking breaks during a long ride and also advised that hydration, even more than food was critically important, so I made sure I drank cold water when I took breaks. He was a great coach and motivator for me and the team. I discovered by accident that eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich before a ride sustained my energy throughout. Riding a familiar location allowed me to be more efficient in reaching my original goal and then incrementally adding to it over time. The major physical challenges that I needed to overcome were getting a comfortable seat and the burning in my thighs when I began my ride or were nearing the end of a segment. The seat was an easy fix. When my thighs started burning, I began using the breathing I was taught in my Lamaze childbirth management classes, to ride through it.
Within two weeks, I had reached my 100 mile goal. “Well what the heck”, I thought to myself, I might as well keep going! All of a sudden, I was like the Forest Gump of cycling! I looked at the stats for the other riders in the challenge to see how they were doing and realized I could actually be competitive! I rode every day and earned every badge I could. I did not want to have any regrets. Even lost a few pounds!
I thoroughly enjoyed the “The Bike Easy Challenge”, the bike “Second Line”, having the opportunity to share the experience with my brother and husband, and meeting my competitors. I look forward to leaving parking lot cycling behind and exploring parks and trails on a regular basis.”