By: Lindsay Goldman, professional cyclist for Hagens Berman | Supermint.
It’s been five months since I had a baby, and just under three months since I returned to racing professionally. A year ago I was mired in the miserable swamp of the first trimester, unable to imagine a day in which I’d actually want to leave the bed or smell food. Six months ago, I had been pregnant for roughly ten years (or so it felt) and was pushing through trainer rides in hopes of staying as fit as possible until taking off multiple weeks after the baby came.
And suddenly it all seems like a distant memory. The baby is a person now, one who laughs when you kiss her belly and loves the Itsy-Bitsy Spider song and smiles when you hold her up in the air and whoosh her back down again.
Lindsay and Caroline at the Redlands Bicycle Classic stage race in May 2018.
Meanwhile I’m riding my bike like nothing changed, like I didn’t spend a year doing insane things with this body and like nobody ever cut me open to pull a human out.
I can’t thank my Hammer smart trainer enough.
This is not an advertisement. Nobody is paying me to say this. All I got in return is another Hammer, because sometimes I live in California and wanted to be able to ride indoors whether I’m in Arizona or California. I’m telling you how much I love this bike trainer because I really love this damn trainer.
Here is the thing about pregnancy: your body is not your own. You change, become inhabited. Your shape shifts, you feel awkward and massive, things happen that you cannot control (laugher = pee, food = vomit), and your identity shifts in a way that often leaves you feeling confused and lost. Who am I going to be when this is done? You know you won’t be the same. It’s impossible to have a child and be unchanged, mentally or physically.
The feed zone takes on new meaning when solely responsible for providing sustenance for a tiny human.
I struggled with this massively for the duration of pregnancy. As an athlete, my body is a point of (admittedly unhealthy) obsession. I’ve trained for years, come back from injuries, dealt with an eating disorder. That’s a lot of time focused on my body and how it functions and performs. Bringing a baby on board and all of the accompanying changes was overwhelming. I didn’t know if I could get back to having the “same” body after the baby came, didn’t know if I could or would want to get back to racing, and didn’t know who I’d be as a mother. Sometimes the anxiety felt like too much to bear.
Plus, pregnancy means you can’t drink your feelings. You can’t even caffeinate them.
Riding was how I coped with the changes and held onto to the cyclist I still wanted to be. Early on, I rode outside and followed my obstetrician’s instructions about avoiding heat and exertion (so easy to accomplish...in Arizona...in August...on group rides).
But then I crashed, cracked a bone in my arm, and realized a lot more could go wrong on rides and it wasn’t worth the risk, so I switched to riding the bike trainer. That was at 20 weeks of pregnancy; I delivered 19 weeks later and, thanks to the trainer, did workouts up until the day before my C-section.
People thought I was insane, riding inside all those weeks as I got bigger and bigger, even outgrowing my husband’s bib shorts. But what else was I going to do? (OH I DON’T KNOW, MAYBE RELAX AND ENJOY PREGNANCY?? Of course not.)
Riding kept me feeling good, feeling like a cyclist, feeling like I was still me even when everything was changing. I loved the hours spent on the trainer, even when I hated them and dreaded getting up to ride and whined about the misery. That trainer made my pregnancy bearable.
An extra participant joins the Hagens Berman | Supermint team meeting before the Dana Point Grand Prix in April 2018.
After the C-section, I figured it would be weeks before I could ride again. But the easy walks the doctors urged me to take didn’t feel good and my body was aching from so much sedentary time, so I figured an easy spin was a safe way to loosen up and get the blood flowing.
I was slightly terrified climbing onto the bike – what if my incision splits open or I bleed out internally, of course I would be the one person to die on the trainer – but nothing hurt or felt off and the spin was so invigorating. And from there I just kept going, adding more time and exertion to each ride little by little.
It was still weeks before I was willing to venture outside on the bike, and in that time, my smart trainer got me a lot closer to race shape as my body healed from birth. Even after returning to riding outside, I still spent half the week riding indoors to be near the baby.
That is still the case now; if I’m not doing a group ride, I’m doing an easy spin or a structured workout on the trainer. It may seem crazy to stay inside when the weather is beautiful and I’m not incapacitated, but now it’s become part of my training routine.
Successfully juggling childcare and riding thanks to CycleOps.
There are three reasons for this:
- I like to be home as much as I can to be around the little one. It’s comforting to know she’s just in the other room.
- The time I’m willing to dedicate to training is limited by parenting and work obligations, so I want to make the most of every minute. The indoor bike trainer is hugely efficient – there are no wasted pedal strokes. I get the ride done and get off the bike; no flats, no lights, no stops. I can also catch up on emails and phone calls during indoor rides.
- The training quality is excellent. If I have a structured interval workout, I don’t want to be dealing with traffic, lights, stop signs, hills, errant squirrels, etc. The trainer takes away all distractions and provides an ideal platform for intervals of any length and intensity.
I feel incredibly lucky to be at this point now, where I have a wonderful little girl and a body that mostly resembles the shape it was before (just don’t look too closely) and the ability to race like I did before any of this happened.
Dad changes Caroline’s diaper on the side of the Sunset Road Race course during the Redlands Bicycle Classic while Lindsay races.
From the beginning of pregnancy, I rode nonstop always thinking that I would have to take time off soon, but that time never came thanks to my Hammer smart trainer. That thing kept me sane, taught me that any amount of suffering is tolerable with enough grit and determination, and brought me into the race season with enough fitness to actually race well with my team.
It feels ridiculous to be grateful to an inanimate object, but thanks to that trainer, I literally had to #sacrificenothing.
One year after finding out that she was pregnant, Lindsay returned again to race the Armed Forces Cycling Classic and won the Most Heroic Rider jersey.
Lindsay Goldman is the Team Manager and racer for the Hagens Berman | Supermint women’s road cycling team. She has raced her bike professionally for the past five years across North America while also spending significant time riding the trainer to balance the demands of a busy work schedule and to combat rough winters.
She will be starting the 2018 race season by welcoming her first baby in February and then using her Hammer smart trainer to get back into shape to take on the later half of the pro road race calendar.