If this is how it starts, I’m in for a long, long year
By Whitney Ellis
I think I’m a fairly decent road rider. I’ve been riding for several years now and I think I can hold my own on longer distances.
After riding on Sunday, I think I have to rethink how good I am.
This is the second pack ride I’ve been a part of in the past three weeks – there was a Memorial Day ride in a nearby town, and I decided to try out the group ride leaving from the closest bike store from me. Heck, this store was so close that I ended up riding to the store to get started.
I felt good – great even – after riding the mile and a half to the starting line at the Trek store. I knew this was a fast group, but it was a no-drop ride (about every six miles there would be a stop so everyone can catch up).
The first six miles were great. I kept up with the group well – and they were fast. There were points I was riding at about 20 miles per hour and I wasn’t gaining any position. We made it to the first rest stop, and I kept up with them.
I started to slow down a bit during the second stop, but still kept with them. There were points where I was riding at 25 miles per hour and I felt good – heck, I felt like I belonged.
It was that damn third leg that got me. I was keeping up well on the straight, flat roads but started to slow down going up some hills. We were heading down the back stretch and I thought we were heading back to the shop to the finish.
I was wrong.
We took a right turn and headed up a hill. I was near the back of the pack and let out an audible sigh. By the time I found the right gear and started pumping, they were about a quarter mile ahead. By the time I made it to the top of the hill, they were about a half a mile ahead.
But it was downhill, and I still had a little bit left in me. I started my push to catch back up – pushing nearly 28 miles per hour, but it was no use. I wasn’t catching them at all, and to make things worse, another group ended up passing me – they had to be at least going 35 miles per hour. Not only did they all pass me, they caught my group and passed them too.
I made it back to the Trek store about 10 minutes or so after the main group, and I was spent. I had never been going that fast for that long – over that 26 miles, I averaged 18 miles per hour. Even with that, I was way behind the main group.
The thing about this, though is I’ve now got a challenge. If I can keep up with this group, even though it’s a no-drop ride, I would have vastly improved over what I’ve been doing in the past few years. This group is good, and they’ll make me better – that is if I can walk by next weekend.