...I'm a hammerhead when I ride with the C2a group at Donaldson on tuesday nights. There is also another 6-10 people who fall right in that same category as I do. These guys and me need to jump up to the C1b group and stay there. Tonight I rode with the C2a group, and found myself and this other crowd of guys (and a woman or two) who stayed out front most of the ride and pushed the pace to 19.1-19.2 mph.
So, why did I drop back a group from last week? I mean, last week was quite successful for me and showed that I could ride with that group. But why go back? Well, it has to do with a little gum surgery I had last Thursday. It's the second round of gum surgery in preparations for getting braces. Since my face was still a bit swollen, and I have a bunch of stitches in my mouth, I thought it better not to push quite as hard tonight. It made no difference really...I played the role of hammerhead quite well, and I apologize to Dan and the rest of the group for it.
We started out fine, worked our average speed up into the 18.5 mph range by the time we hit Garrison road. It just kept climbing from there. By the time we climbed the hill (as we approach Reedy Fork Road for the first time), the pace was kicking 19mph. That stretch of road always brings up the pace as that is probably the biggest hill in the ride, and people just like to hammer it. It's nice that we re-group before the turn onto Reedy Fork Road - we tend to get a little spread out along there.
Of course, the next little section brings us onto old hundred road. That's a great little road as well, and some competitive juices tend to flow a little through there. Again, very cool that we take the opportunity to re-group at the stop sign.
Rocking along towards Holly Road, we actually began to bring the pace back into the 18.9mph range. Dan was calling for a bit of a slow down, and we actually got it. Well, until we turned onto Holly Road. That's when this group of Hammerheads (yes, me included) began to push the pace again. Even after a re-group at the Reedy fork road stop sign, we kept the pace up in the 19.1mph range.
That ride along Reedy fork just begs to be ridden fast - or at least at a pace that ends up faster than our advertised pace. We continued to push it, now with some other folks up front as well (besides the 10 or so I have previously mentioned).
I need to make a comment about riding in pace lines. I was trying to stay in the left pace line, but there was a guy riding quite erratically in the right pace line. I understand a little drift here and there, but he was drifting so far to the left, I had to back off the pace and allow a gap to form between me and the guy who should have been in front of me. It was like he was trying to take the middle - which either pushed me way to the left of the lane, or made me back off. It was pretty irritating. Then, he would drift back into the right pace line, and I would move into position on the left. Again, no time would pass and he would be drifting my way again. Very unsafe!
Fast forward a bit in the ride to the stop sign at Michelin Road. Our pace was showing around 19.0-19.1mph, so not terribly out of the advertised pace zone, I think we need to consider the overall pace to be a success to this point.
Once again, as we got on to Perimeter road the ride shifted into a 'every man for himself' type of ride. I actually like this a lot, but the group riding discipline really begins to break down. People really need to remember that it is a BAD thing to slow down as you are yelling 'HOLE'. I was really surprised we didn't have an accident along that section up to Ashmore Bridge Road. The best thing to do is to ride over the hole (or take a tip from the mountain biking crowd and bunny hop it) OR gently adjust your line and point to the obstacle so the rider behind you will be able to react. DO NOT MAKE A SUDDEN ADJUSTMENT IN YOUR SPEED! Even a slight adjustment in your speed has a very negative effect further back in the group. It is also important for the people up front to be the eyes of the group. They are the ones who are first to come upon the obstacle.
Another thing I saw along this stretch of road that is bad group riding form is allowing large (3 bike length) gaps to form in front of you. When you are the 6th rider in line, you should do your best to keep a good following distance. Another little issue here was some people riding in the 'third' lane. The worst part, this 'third' lane rider was riding to the left of the guy who was allowing the large gap. These two were just in front of me, so it prevented me (and / or others) from being able to fill that gap.
When the group gets out on Perimeter road, we should actually make an even more concerted effort to have a disciplined pace line. The pace picks up, so it becomes more important for the group to work together to maintain the higher pace. Two pace lines, or a single pace line with rotation up front, splitting into two for the main peleton. As I watched the riders in the 'third' lane, I finally decided to get out front where I feel it is actually safer.
I managed to pull a few folks with me, and we did a bit of a rotation for a couple of miles. Was it the best most disciplined rotation, probably not, but I think we were doing ok. There was probably four of us up there in the front, and we each did some pulling at whatever pace we were riding (pretty fast). It's important to remember in these pace lines not to pull for too long. There are several other riders behind you who are fully capable of pulling the group for a while. If you pull for too long, you won't be able to keep the pace when you finally pull out of the wind. This ended up happening to me. I got out front for part of that last hill, and found myself burning out again. I should have known to pull out of the lead earlier, but I'm a pig-headed SOB sometimes.
As I have seen for the last several rides, we managed to up our pace by about a half mph by the time I backed off near the stop sign. It really was a great ride despite my bitching. So, next week, I'll jump in with the C1b group and see how that goes.
2 years ago