New Mom and cyclist Nicole Braddock on managing expectations and getting back on the bike after twins.
As an athlete, especially as a competitive women’s cycling racer, you go into pregnancy with so many preconceived ideas of maintaining fitness, eating healthy, and getting back to your sport as soon as possible. Flash back to a year ago sitting in the doctor’s office with my husband, ultrasound images up on the screen, and my OB says, “there were twins in here at one point.” Okay. What does that mean? She zoomed in on one area, heartbeat going along at 170 beats per minute. She went back to the other area to investigate, and after several seconds, there’s heartbeat number two. Yup, twins.
We hopped on our cruiser bikes that evening to meet friends and passed on the very surprising news that we’d be expecting twins the following May. We rode our bikes home. Little did I know, I wouldn’t sit on a bike again for 12 more weeks.I would have ridden a lot longer had I known 🙂
Despite every desire to have a fit and healthy pregnancy, mine was fraught with nausea, vomiting, and complications. I had read so many womens cycling blogs about womens racing bikes throughout pregnancy, or at least riding all the way through, maintaining strength, and then being able to get right back at it as soon as the doctor allowed. These women were my inspiration for my pregnancy and I wanted to be such inspiration for others. But early on in pregnancy I was put on activity restriction and those hopes went out the window. Not to mention, all I could stomach eating for several months was some variety of potatoes, usually mashed or fried. When I was finally allowed to get back on a bike, I borrowed my husband’s Primal jersey, and headed over to Inspired Training Center one weekend. I rode two days in a row, and it felt glorious. My knees were already bumping my belly, and my cardiovascular fitness had plummeted, but boy did it feel good.
It didn’t last. I got sick, then got sick again, and in just a few weeks would find myself on bedrest for the remainder of the pregnancy. The farther along I got, I could barely walk or put on pants, let alone do any other strenuous activity.
At midnight on March 19th, my water broke and the babies arrived at 33 weeks and 2 days. We spent 6 weeks in the NICU learning to breathe, eat. and grow. Needless to say, riding bikes was not a priority. The day before the babies came home, Stuart and I hopped on bikes and rode to the park knowing we would be so busy starting the next day.
Since Hank and Juniper have been home, we have tried really hard to ride bikes every now and then, but it doesn’t happen often. After getting a text from a friend saying she was going to race the Beti Bike Bash and I should join, I decided, what the heck? What is there to lose getting back out there? I had done one 25-mile ride two weeks prior (the longest it has probably ever taken me to ride 25 miles), and felt good enough then that I knew I would at least survive.
The cool thing about the Beti Bike Bash is that they have a “New Mom” category. To qualify, you must have had your baby no longer than 18 months ago. I was 11 weeks out to the day from my c-section. The ride up that stupidly steep fire road to the registration was enough to get my hamstrings burning and second guess my decision to race, but I persisted. At the start line, the category was bigger than I expected. Fourteen new moms would be racing. They all looked great, and I felt blah, barely fitting into my one-size-up kit that I bought for my post-partum size.
I had a great start, sitting about 4th wheel back on the initial climb, but it didn’t last. I soon was passed by all my competitors but two. It didn’t matter. I was on a mountain bike (which I hadn’t ridden since the previous July), I was outside on a beautiful day, and I was doing it. My goals that morning were to finish, to not stop and walk the climbs, and to be finish sub-50 minutes. I accomplished all three. My time was 4 minutes slower than when I did the same course 3 years ago in my first mountain bike race ever, but it didn’t matter. I can tell my kids years down the road that I raced a mountain bike less than three months after bringing them into this world.
The other new moms were painfully fast that day. I look forward to next year when I will race the category again, hopefully proving to be a much faster “new” mom. Time will tell as feeding, changing, cuddling and playing all comes first now before riding bikes. And one day, should Hank and Juniper be so inclined, we will all be out there on the trails loving every minute.
If you would like information about joining our club to ride with Nicole and a few other “new moms” visit our club page.