Sunday, August 2, 2009

Club Ride

Most of my miles on the bike are solo. Alex and I try to ride a couples times a week, and I've been doing a number of organized rides on the weekends, but I'm pretty lonely out on the road. In an effort to enter the cycling social scene, I've decided to start doing at least one club ride a week.

My very first club ride was yesterday. I introduced myself to the tour leader and we set out for Wilshire, Ohio, about 30 miles from the south end of Fort Wayne. I was so tickled to be riding with other folks, that the 21, 22, 23 mph numbers on my speedometer didn't really seem to make sense to me.

After 15 miles, I realized I was sweating much more than normal, so I dropped back to put my sweatband on. When I tried to rejoin the pack, that was the moment I thought I might be in trouble. I did catch them again, but could only hang out at the end, and that was tenuous.

A mile from Wilshire, I dropped off the back, but caught them at the Marathon station in town. The rest there was very welcome, and I ate two granola bars and drank 16 oz of Gatorade. I felt amazingly good when we left, and when we got back to 20 mph, I couldn't think why I ever fell off the back.

After 5 more miles at that speed, I quickly remembered how I was dropped. Louie , who was riding with the group the whole way, dropped back, and that was my out. I didn't want him to have to ride alone, after all.

We rode the rest of the way back at 17 mph, a much more reasonable speed for me. I was glad to ride with the group as long as I did, but I've got to work on my conditioning to get up to the A group speed. Even if I never make it in the A group, it's still good to ride with others.

Happy riding!


Mike J said...

group rides are a lot of fun but i've found that if they tell you the average speed is X mph in actuality it's usually X + 2 or 3 MPH.

Apertome said...

Like you, I mostly ride solo. The few times I've ridden with groups, I've been surprised at the higher speeds you can maintain by drafting. Which is reinforced if you fall off the back and have to try to catch up. Generally, I prefer solo rides but to meet people or in an unfamiliar area, riding with a group can be nice.

What club did you ride with? I rode with the Three Rivers club once or twice when my wife and I made trips to Fort Wayne. Nice group!

Big Oak said...

Apertome, yes, the Three Rivers Velo Sport club. The club has touring rides on Saturdays and Sundays, plus evening rides most week nights, and even a couple early morning week day rides also. It seems like there's always something to do, but until yesterday, I've not taken part.

Rantwick said...

Hey, just arrived here after noticing you had started following my blog... thanks for that, and I've just started reading this one... looks good, I'll have to sidebar it!

I've been trying out longer rides too, but only solo so far. I've never experienced real "drafting" over any distance... does it help dramatically, or just a little?

rlove2bike said...

I ride alone also with limited experience with the group stuff. It sounds to me you did just fine...and had a good time. I think you would find it will only get easier the more time you spend in the group.

Big Oak said...

Rantwick - I just saw your blog for the first time the other day. Laughed really hard, so I thought I'd follow you. Yes, the drafting with the group makes a HUGE difference. I can't pedal 23mph by myself for very long. With a group I could go for a long time (for me, anyway). But, pedalling 23mph is still turning some tiny gears at a high rate, so you'll still expend a great deal of energy.

Mike J - yes, I confirm your formula.

rlove - thanks for the encouragement, I believe it should get easier also. I don't need to be fast to have fun though, so I'll see as time goes on whether I want to be an A rider on Saturdays. I did feel like I was in the Tour de France as we cruised up and over hills (very small ones) and went around turns in the road. It was great!

Doohickie said...

Riding with others always seems to make it easier for me to ride fast. It's a combination of camaraderie and drafting I think. I seem to ride a more consistent pace with a group; when I'm alone my pace varies a lot more.