There is a Tues/Thursday group ride that I've never participated in. Sure, I do the same routes at slightly different times and see the group out there a lot, but, I've never actually met up with the group & ridden with them. I know some of my training peeps do and I talked my ATC buddy Karen to meet me for the ride today. She frequently rides with the group, but she is also one of the strongest female cyclists I know and can hang on for the most part.
The Thursday ride is also the "hill ride" with 3 pretty good climbs in the middle of the 30 or so mile ride. I do the hills on my own quite often as they are just a couple minutes from my house.
Up at 4:30 this am so I could be on my bike shortly after 5 to meet the group I felt pretty good. Hip flexors and quads a wee bit sore from yesterdays track workout and my lats screaming from my crazy hard 4k swim. Thanks coach.
Anyway, I met up with the group about 4 miles into riding and quickly jumped on the middle of the pack. I was able to chit chat for all of about 2 miles before I realized my HR was 170, my legs and lungs were screaming and oh my hell what have I gotten myself into? The gradual uphill starts and I swear those crazy ass roadies picked up the pace. Only about 4mph FASTER than I would normally go.
We make a turn heading to the first stop light (it's red) so I grab my water bottle and try to catch my breath. Next thing I know, the light turns green the group takes off like a freaking bat out of hell to make the light and I'm hanging on for dear life.
And that was the end of my group ride :-) Yes, I was dropped after about 5 miles. I laughed and figured out plan B. There were a few stragglers so we got together and paced up the road slowly losing sight of the group as they made a turn to go up the first of 3 major hills. I was riding beside one of the guys in the "we got dropped group" as we passed by the turn I thought we would make. I asked about it, and they said - yah, we skip that one and they catch us on this hill.
Oh…. crap. Now I'm thinking not only did I get DROPPED, now I have to get passed after skipping a hill. I'd rather be in the back of the pack. That's like being lapped in the pool on a short swim set. NOT cool.
I decided I was just gonna ride hard and see what happened. I worked my way up to the top of our little group and cruised up the first hill. I asked when they usually get caught and one of the ladies told me any minute. I was bound and determined NOT to get caught before I made it up this hill (the largest of the 3) and by God I did it. Barely :-) As I cruised down the hill I noticed that the group really fell apart. I found my gf Karen at the bottom of the hill and decided to turn around and go back up again with her. She was struggling and realized she was in no way recovered from the Answer yet so we just cruised up the hill together. My HR was 20bpm lower up the hill the second time, so clearly I was working way hard the first time!
The second hill is a 2part hill. The first hill is a more gradual grade, but the second part you go through a residential gate and go up about a half a mile with a much steeper grade to the turn around. There has been much drama with the neighborhood about letting cyclists in the gate, so the trade off of the gate being left open for us = BIG ASS SPEED BUMPS. I hate these damn things. They are big, obnoxious rubber speed bumps that hurt like hell going over. There is no way around them. You can take them fast, you can take them slow, but no matter what they are a pain in the ass. The last time I went down this section one of my brakes broke. People lose water bottles (saw that today), nutrition - you name it. Not to mention it sounds like your bike is going to break in half every time you hit one. I'm pretty sure last time when my brake broke I said I was never going up this section again.
Sure enough here I was going up and down it not once, but twice. As I hit the last of 3 (maybe 4) of these speed bumps on the way down for the second time I realized something was wrong. I stopped at the gate, looked down and realized that my handlebars had slipped about a half an inch. I could barely reach my brakes and had to stretch way too far to grab onto the hoods.
So here I am only an hour into my first group ride. Dropped from the group, then back with them and now I have to either A) finish the ride riding in my drops or B) roll on down the hill and head home and hour short on my ride time.
My legs were feeling better, and I now had company so I made the turn to go up the 3rd and final big hill. I stood up to catch up to Karen and realized how uncomfortable this made me and made the better decision to head back home.
So there you have it. My first group ride. Dropped, jacked up handlebars and cut an hour short. You know what the crazy part is? I still had fun :-) I tend to get lazy on the bike and never have that feeling of OMG I'm going to die. I think this is probably the best thing (and most painful) I could do to help improve my cycling!
I think my crazy coach is rubbing off on me. Bring it. Maybe next week I can hold on for like 6miles before I get dropped :-)