Cling On (sic)

As slow as I am on the bike, I usually dread the group rides the clubs (Columbia Multisport and/or Columbia Bicycle Club) put on because I either take off with a group that is too fast for me and get dropped or ride with a slow group and end up way out in front of them.  Either way, I ride alone.  Maybe I just don’t “get” road biking yet.  Maybe I’m supposed to do something I don’t know I’m supposed to do yet.  Maybe I’m missing some roadie protocol.  Regardless, most rides I feel like the only place I’m going to see another bike is in the parking lot.  And I’m not whining or complaining, that’s just the way it is.

So after a hard run in the rain yesterday morning I spent the rest of the day debating whether I should go to the evening hammerfest known as Interval Night.  In the end, insanity won out over common sense and I went, despite feeling exhausted and foggy from all the allergy meds I am taking.

The usual suspects were there.  All of the CBC guys that I knew I would never hang with.  All of the fast triathletes I knew I would never hang with.  All of the others that I’m just a bit too fast to hang back with.  Yup… Another lonely ride ahead.

But as I sat there waiting to start I kind of got frustrated with my current state of physical conditioning.  I don’t think I have been pushing hard enough on the bike and have been accepting what I get and I wasn’t happy with that.  The riders decided to work pace lines for intervals so we broke up into groups of 4-6.  I finally decided to go with a group of two fast women riders and two fast men riders and just see how long I could hang on.  But I was going to work really hard to keep up.  The route was a 27 mile out and back and we would put in two intervals of 4 miles and 4 intervals of 2 miles, plus whatever else we decided to do.  I just decided to sit on the back of the pace line and hang on for all I was worth.

After about a 2 mile warmup we hit the start of the first interval and the line sped up.  I stuck to the wheel of the rider in front of me and tried not to pay attention to anything but the road and spinning my pedals.  I noticed that everyone was spinning slower gears really fast, so I shifted up and did the same.  We were averaging about 110-120 rpm and roughly 24mph for the interval.  I felt much better than I thought I would and ended up with the group at the end of the first interval.  And then the second.  And the third.  And the halfway point.

Although I was pleased to be with the group for this far, I knew when we stopped to regroup at the halfway point that my intervals were numbered though because as soon as my foot hit the ground, my calf cramped.  I grabbed my water bottle only to realize I had forgotten to fill it.  …doomed.

We started back up and I actually took a pull at the front.  Then the two girls in our group “chicked” me (passed me really fast and dropped me).  All I could do was grin and wave goodbye.  I never saw them again.  As we got to the top of a small rise, the two other guys in the group saw that the women had slowed down and said “Let’s get them!”  I hopped up out of the saddle and every muscle in my body seized at the same time.  I flopped back down weakly in the saddle and surrendered.  It was fun to watch them chase the ladies down though.  And once again, I finished the ride alone.

But I was encouraged.  I think if I plan better (like filling my water bottle and bring a Gu) and don’t go so hard in the morning run, I might actually be able to hang with some of the faster riders.  I’m not fast yet and I admit that.  But working a pace line helps.  And I’m also learning more about when to shift, etc. from the other riders.  I’m really glad I went.  With the speed ups, slow downs, stop at the half and running out of gas half way back, I still managed just over 20 mph.  This is much faster (almost 2mph) than I have ever done this route.  And I’m really not sore or anything this morning.  But I did decide to take today off.  I can tell I need it.  Tomorrow will be a morning run (with the Uprise group!  Yay!) and then an afternoon open water swim so today is a good day to relax.  One week to Innsbrook!


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