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Taking My Own Advice On Group Rides


Generally when I make a statement, as I did in my last post, I find myself in a spot to eat crow – once in that spot it’s quite normal to wind up chewing vigorously. That was not the case last evening. It was a sucky ride for everybody. The wind was just brutal – 20 mph sustained with gusts only God knows how strong. Fortunately all of the headwind and cross headwind miles were on the first half of the ride. The only problem I had with this occurred during the cross headwind stretches. Everybody assumes that having a sleek, tight, awesome body is all fun and games… Well it is for the most part, except when you’re perched atop a 19 pound bike getting hammered by a crosswind. I had an absolute miserable time trying to hold a line.

So miserable was I that I dropped on purpose. Full disclosure, I was semi-gassed and I really wasn’t looking forward to continuing the competition for space while being buffeted by a cross-tailwind at 30 mph (I managed to wind up next to the biggest @$$hole in the group who was quite content with pushing me left out of the draft so he could suck a little more protection – he almost caused a wreck two weeks ago with someone else doing the same thing).

I’m also finding that I actually like lone wolf riding a lot more. I can push when I want and rest when I want, sit up when I want.  Again, I was one of the last to drop, somewhere around 15 miles out.  We started with what had to be 25-30 riders and I was in the lead group of 15.  We broke off from the slower riders in the first three miles (the wind was that bad, the slow pack is usually good for at least ten miles).  I took my fair share of turns pulling at the front and all pulls were short – 1/2 to 3/4 mile because, according to the cycle computer which maxed out, each pull required an average of greater than 500 watts for the length of the pull – it was some REALLY tough riding just to maintain an 18-20 mph average.

I dropped early enough that I could have taken the shortcut back, opting for a 26 mile ride in lieu of the normal 33, but I did that two weeks ago and I really felt like I’d short-changed myself and I was none too pleased with the feeling that I’d cheated myself out of seven miles for the sake of comfort.  At the 17 mile mark I noticed a rider behind me, about 1/4 mile back, who must have dropped just before I did so I coasted down the hills and soft pedaled to give her a chance to catch up.  We spoke for a mile or two and I offered her some shelter from the cross-tailwind, but she opted for the shorter route so we parted ways.

On finishing the ride I did notice one very important difference when I contrasted this ride with previous jaunts – the extra miles I’ve been riding on my normal daily ride have really helped.  I had to rush over to the meeting place because of a dentist’s appointment (more on that in my next post) so my warmup was greatly shortened – normally five miles, I could only fit in 2-1/2.  On top of the shortened warmup, I started out hungry and I didn’t have any food with me.  Even so I finished a lot stronger and I was a lot more comfortable than before two weeks ago.

All things considered, it turned out to be a really nice ride and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.  The sun was shining and the temp, at 75 degrees, was comfortable, even with the wind…

And yesterday’s ride catapulted me to 6th place of 434 riders for my local cycling challenge (top 1%) and I remain in the top 2-5% in the other three Endomondo challenges that I’m taking part in.  The thing that pleases me the most, that spreads across all four challenges is my year over year mileage.  Last July, August and September I completed 297, 348 and 386 overall miles, respectively.  So far this year, with the season starting in March, I tracked 410 miles, 501 in April and 582 so far in May… and I’ve still got two more days left for the month (I’m figuring 25 slow miles today and 25 hard miles tomorrow) – I’ll be well over 600 miles for the month.

Number Crunching:

2011 Average Speed (Riding and Running):  12.94 mph

2012 Average Speed (Riding and Running):  17.42 mph

2011 Average Pace (Running):  9.22 mile/min.

2012 Average Pace (Running):  8:48 mile/min. *

2011 Average Speed (Cycling Sport):  15.98 mph

2012 Average Speed (Cycling Sport):  18.25 mph *includes all road cycling – hard efforts, leisure rides and recovery rides.

That’s what I’m talkin’ about, baby.

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