Go Left!!

I’ve come to realize of late that I don’t post unless I have something to share training/racing/sport wise… I’m working on that. So I’ll do that after this post 😉

My off-season hasn’t had much rest. It’s been like that mainly because the training keeps me sane. I have enough anxiety (don’t laugh; it’s true) as it is without the added stress that comes from being sedentary. Not to mention that I’ve found that if I study while on my trainer, I can ace a test even if that’s the only time I study. And it usually is. Well with finals last week and today actually, I couldn’t have time off. Coach Tony’s rule for the off season? “No two hours in zone 4. Be smart.” I can do that; being an Endurance Concepts USAT certified coach, I understand. But I like to spice it up every now and again, so I hit up The Airport Ride in downtown ATL Sunday.

This ride has a reputation for being kinda fast. And everyone there, with the exception of myself and a couple members of the Georgia Tech try team I rode with, were pure cyclist. Or at most roadies who after years of riding had converted to triathlons. I say this with confidence because I didn’t see anyone with calves any smaller than my head…no joke. I figured since I need to get used to riding in a pack because I’m racing ITU San Diego in May that a serious ride would be in my best interest. So I chose to jump head first into it making this ride my first group ride.

Everything was going great. I can keep a line(though I wasn’t 100% comfortable in the pack), and even though this was only the fourth time on my bike in a month, I didn’t have an issue sitting in the 200+ person pack. (fun fact: drafting is kinda awesome when it’s allowed) Well when we got to the first nature stop, I took off my jacket because it’s still in the mid-60s here, which is AWESOME! It took me some time to get my jacket in my jersey pocket, so I ended up in the back on the pack. Not where I wanted to be…

About 30 minutes after the break you have to make the choice of going long (65 miles) or short (45 miles). Being in the back, and talking to another rider, I didn’t hear anyone yell out which route was which. So when I asked the guy I had been talking to, he said left was the short option. OK! Cool! Left we go, and I get to hammer for a minute to bridge the gap from you to the pack up there, which seems like it’s the 30 people who have been leading the whole ride! (red flag; right?)

So that’s what I did, and then there was a hill. I can climb great, but a pack moves faster up climbs because of aerodynamics and such, so the 10 second gap grew enough to let a truck whip out of his driveway. It was all I could do to white-knuckle the brakes and unclip to save myself from going over the bars. 10 seconds became 20 easily, and continued to grow. Then as I crest the hill I just catch a glimpse of the last rider’s wheel going down the winding descent. I attempt to catch the group…only at the end of the descent theres a 90* turn either way, and I have to choose because I don’t see anyone. Good thing I printed out a cue sheet… I knew by the time my phone had loaded that the pack was GONE…and had determined I was on the long route. …grrrr

I havent risen over 2:30 in….like 8 months. This was going to hurt. Add to that the fact that I have NO idea where I am…’Welcome to Coweta County’ Sweet… Well after about an hour I finally make it 29 North, and I know it’s ~20 miles straight up through College Park back to the GT campus. OK, no big deal. Unless there’s 15mph headwinds for the whole 20 miles. I’m a decently strong cyclist, and I was grinding out barely 90RPM in mid/high zone 3 going…wait for it…14mph. I was already getting signals from my legs that this would be ugly the next day (and yes, my legs are still a little sore). I figured, “Hell…I might as well enjoy going back.” So I sang ‘High Hopes in Velvet Ropes’ by The Cab the whole way back. And realized that riding through College Park alone isn’t nearly as fun as it would be with a pack. Though I did see a guy riding down the street on a Rascal, you know those driving carts from the grocery, and that made me laugh.

3:45 later, I’m finally back. I call my friends at GT that I rode with back, they called while I was trying to get back since I’d gone AWOL, and told them what happened. We all laughed, and I realized that I’m going to need to pay more attention next time. But I will be back, and I will get comfortable in a group. Practice practice practice!

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