Tuesday, May 5, 2009

How do you know...

...when it's time to bump up to the next pace group? This story actually starts a few weeks ago, before Dan stepped up and created the 19+ mph group (with lots of help from Lori of course!). If you recall, I was not the most complimentary to the hammers, but that blog actually resulted in me making the suggestion to Dan to start a faster group.

That has really worked out well. The folks who were ready to ride faster than 19mph, certainly needed it, and those of us left in the 18-19mph group benefited from it as well. We now were able to maintain the advertised pace. I led the C2a group a couple of weeks ago, but when I arrived last week, Dan had already volunteered to lead it. That was great with me, I got to just do a ride-along.

It was this experience where I made my realization. I realized if I'm not leading the group, I should ride in the next faster group. What happened that I realized this? Well, I saw myself as one of the hammers. Not that I was out pushing the pace out of the advertised pace zone, but I was out front quite a bit. Absolutely, I'm not saying I was in front for the entire ride, many others worked the lead positions, but I found myself out in front (and sometimes by myself) during those parts of the ride where it gets a little spirited. Maybe the others were just taking it easy on me that day, maybe I was feeling stronger than usual.

Whatever it was, I decided I would move up for this week. When I arrived, Dan had already volunteered to lead the C2a group. Lori was looking for someone to lead the C1a and C1b. Dan just about had me talked into leading the C1b group, but Bob came over and checked with Lori about leading it. Not knowing how I would really do in this group, I decided it would be better if I just rode along for today. I was happy that Bob stepped up.

As we departed the parking lot, I found myself out front and Bob asked me to set the pace initially so he could get a head count. He came back up front and we chatted a bit as we rode down Perimeter road. I told him I was ok leading while I'm fresh, but was unsure how things were going to work out. I was actually a little nervous, and that nervous energy translated into a pace a little faster than Bob wanted - he had to ask me to back it down.

I stayed up front for Perimeter road, and got back in close to the front as we made the turns that put us onto Michelin Road. Somehow, I ended up in front again as we made the right onto Lost Swamp and again onto Griffin Road. As we began that long gradual grade on Griffin road, Bob and I peeled off and went to the back of the pack for a while.

Unsure of my own strength, I decided to sit in the back for a while. While it was a really good group, I still found a little accordion effect being all the way in the back. Not a big problem and it started to give me some confidence. I did my best to work that effect in an effort to minimize the gaps with the rider in front of me. This required some bursts of speed from time to time, and I found that I did indeed have the strength. As we forked left off of Garrison Road, I decided it was time for me to see about getting back up towards the front.

We made our way along Richey Road and up that nice grade towards the stop sign. My confidence was returning, and I began to push myself. Nothing special about what I did as there are some very strong riders in that group. For me though, just being towards the front, and hanging on the wheels up there was giving me an extra boost.

The group was excellent. We did a stop at the left turn onto Woodville road to make sure we still had everyone. With fear of repeating myself, this is part of what makes these rides so fun, and being out there with other like-minded people makes it so very worth it. We were spread out a little at the stop, but when we resumed the ride, I moved quickly up towards the front.

Bob seemed like he was feeling his oats a little, or maybe it was some inner madman seeing who he could draw along with him as he pushed the pace a little early along that road. I managed to work my way up next to him as we crossed the bridge before the ascent. I was feeling good - I was out front with a great climb ahead of us. It wasn't long however, before we were caught.

My confidence had returned in full, I now felt I could hang with this group. In fact, I felt I could do my share of pulling. While Bob and I were out front at the beginning of the ascent, we were quickly passed by some half dozen or so riders. I tried to latch onto someone's wheel, and kept pushing up the hill. The strong riders in front of me give me motivation to ride with this group again - I know I have some improving to do.

We made the turns onto Reedy Fork, then onto old hundred road. I was a little out of sync with the ride I think. As we made our way along old Hundred road, I waited and waited for someone to break away...it didn't happen, so I took a shot at it. Nobody chased and I ended up at the stop sign by myself briefly. I took a turn out front for a little while on the next stretch along Hopkins Road, but again, the strong riders in the group ended up pulling us to the next stop sign (at Reedy Fork road).

To let you know how awesome this group was...I needed to step behind a tree about that time. We were taking a short stop to allow some others to catch up, so I decided to take that opportunity to find that tree. I jumped across the road, rode a short distance and found that tree. Plenty of nice comments as the group rode by, I knew I was going to have my work cut out for me in catching them. To my delight, they had stopped at the next stop sign. THANK YOU!! I really didn't want to finish the ride by myself.

We made the turn onto Holly road, and Bob was riding strong with one other rider along with him. The pack was moving well, but didn't seem to be catching them. I took that opportunity to push a little to bridge the gap. It took a lot of effort, which didn't help me in the long run. I managed to bridge as we came down the hill and I passed both of them as we went up the hill. My effort cost me, and four or five people passed me as we crested the hill. I dug as deep as I could, and managed to re-take a couple or three of them. Really nice move by those guys who ended up out front.

Back onto Reedy Fork Road, and the ladies from the Every Woman team got back out front. I give both of them a lot of credit - they spent a lot of time pulling us guys around the countryside tonight. I managed to do some more pulling and our pace was right in the zone it is supposed to be. I was showing about 19.6mph. {late edit: pace was not 19.6 because I got out front, the pace was a result of the combined group effort}

Along Reedy Fork, leading up to the four way stop at Griffin Mill road, we had a small group out front. I felt good when I was able to catch / stay with them after that gradual ascent. Quick stop at the stop sign to regroup and we were off again. We stayed cohesive along Michelin Road and to the stop at Perimeter Road.

Bob had us all stop and thanked everyone for the ride. He also told us it was every man and woman for himself (little inside joke here). As we turned onto Perimeter road, it was the ladies leading a small pack of about 6 riders. I don't like when a pack gets away, it is so much work to reel them in. I quickly bridged the gap to join them. They set a strong pace about up to where Ashmore bridge road peels off.

About that time, our peleton began to absorb our little breakaway. The ladies peeled off the front and resumed positions in the pack. We continued to push a strong pace, and I found myself up near the front again as we approached the golf course. I followed a strong rider up the hill next to the golf course entrance. We backed off slightly at the top, and were quickly absorbed by our peleton.

As the ride got closer to finishing, people really started pushing. I tried to do my share up front, and as we came up the last hill, I was in the front, but I waved the others around - I was BEAT!. I expected to be immediately absorbed by the main group, but I found there was only about 10 or so riders nearby. I took a quick look back and saw how spread out the rest of the group had gotten over that last couple of miles. This actually gave me some motivation, so I pushed myself and re-took a couple or three riders. At about that time, my average pace was showing 19.9mph.

At the end of this ride, I still felt pretty good. I don't know if I could have maintained any faster pace, but I certainly was able to hold the pace of the group - even getting out front in the second half of the ride. Considering I had low confidence at the start of the ride I now know riding with this group was the right move for me.

p.s. for Bob: You asked if I was going to lead this group next week - I told you I might. Unfortunately, I am having a little surgery on thursday of this week, so I doubt I'll be up for riding at this pace by next tuesday. I'll be out there, but it will likely be in a slower group.

1 comment:

  1. This was a great ride this week. JD, you rode super strong (nice job), and I'd also like to send a shout out to Bob for doing a great job as ride leader and to the GHS Every Woman ladies (Jill and Elizabeth) who put a hurtin' on us boys last night!


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