Well, on Friday I had two choices for a Saturday ride:
Option 1: 50ish miles of gravel road grinding in the mountains with some cool peeps
...but start time of 8:30am..ouch.
Option 2: 90ish miles of road hammering with the who's who of road racing in Georgia..the Winter Bike League
. Also, 55nine Performance
was sponsoring this particular ride.
While Option 1 sounded like a hell of a lot more fun, I chose Option 2 so I could sleep in longer, and we were the day's sponsor, after all.
Little did I know that waking up for an 8:30 am ride would pale in comparison to the pain and misery I felt on the Winter Bike League ride!
So, here's my ride report:
My big mistake in these types of rides is always not staying close to the front where the pace is consistent and so is the effort. Riding at the back is an interval exercise. Brake on the downhill, hammer on the uphill..and this is no flat ride. Well, at 10:15 or so, they whistled "go" but for some reason the people in front of me were not going, while everyone else was riding away. Before I knew it, I was already pretty far in the back, knowing my task was to move myself as forward in the pack as I could. This wasn't easy, as there were a hundred or so people in front of me, tightly packed in.
The first couple rollers were ok, but then I started to feel the yo-yo effect you get in the back of the pack. Eddie was still riding next to me and I was confident that we could make our way up into a more "safe" place. Before I knew it, though, the pace on the hills was heating up, and the space between me and them was increasing. My heart rate was WAAAAY above my base zone where I was supposed to be, but I didn't care..I just didn't want to get dropped (at least not this early on). I silently hoped that my quads would soon start feeling like muscles again and not like two ton bricks. It takes me awhile to warm up (well hey, can you blame me? i'm an endurance racer after all)...so of course after no more than ten miles I felt it happening..I was falling back...back to where I did NOT want to be. We hit another steep hill and all of a sudden I started to panic. I looked up and Eddie hammered past me like I was standing still...and all I could think of was "huh? WAAIIIT!!! aren't we supposed to work together or something like that?"
Apparently not, since that was the last I saw of Eddie...
Several others started passing me, as well. Apparently they know the game and can warm up faster than I can. I felt them shaking their heads and looking at me pathetically, thinking "Wow, you suck", or "Wow, sucks to be you", or "Hope you brought a map!, See ya!" I wanted to yell at them and say "HEY! I AM A MOUNTAIN BIKER! I WOULD KICK YOUR ASS ON THE TRAIL! OH, AND I'M STILL IN BASE MILES!! HAVE A NICE DAY!" But I didn't. They didn't care, maybe it wasn't true, or maybe I just didn't have the breath in me to yell. It didn't matter anyway.
It was unbelievable...dropped less than an hour into the ride. As I was swallowing my pride, the SAG wagon comes up next to me and says "hold on to the door, I'll get you back up there".
"Cool" I thought. My savior. Until I held onto his door and he started speeding up. I'm not sure how fast he was going, but it was a roadie move I'm just not comfortable with. I just pictured myself wobbling, crashing, and being run over by the SAG vehicle. So, I let go and thanked him but told him to just leave me. Instead he accelerated and I snuck in his draft. Great! For some reason I was much more comfortable doing 30mph 6 inches from his bumper than I was riding next to his front wheel.
Drafting the car was OK for awhile until that even had my heart rate pegged and I just couldn't see myself holding that..for 5 hours none the less. Unfortunately the main pack didn't seem to be getting any closer either.
Luckily there were several others dropped and we ended up riding together for the next 3 hours. The pace was consistent and still brisk, but I was ok with it now since I was warmed up. Unfortunately, though, I was still carrying around two bricks for quads. I had three run-ins (not literally) with dogs, but one very very close call..in fact I saw my life flash before my eyes and thank goodness I have some skills because three crazy dogs basically ran at me while I was descending and shoved me off the road onto the grass..and unbelievably I didn't crash. I am a dog lover but when I am on the road, they turn into the devil.
So, that's that. My ride ended with coffee with some cool guys that I ended up riding with. They told some great stories and had me entertained most of the ride.
I ended up with 3 hours, about 55 miles, and a need for singletrack.
Sorry roadies, I know you'll miss me over the next year...(not)...but the dirt is calling.
p.s. I think I will just say that I'm done with base miles since this is the 2nd weekend in a row that I HAVE TOTALLY BLOWN IT. 139bpm? Ha, try 180. Whatever.