i bit the bullet & went on my first club ride yesterday. my cycling partners had gone on a couple of the club rides last week to test the waters; assess the group and see if i could hack it. and actually, my husband & i went on a ride last weekend & bumped into two women that he remembered from the ride -- we rode with them for a while & i realized for myself that i could totally hack it.
until that is - i got to the parking lot where everyone meets - at which time, i promptly wanted to throw up. the feeling of anxiety was not unlike my first big dog run. there were about 50 other riders decked out in snazzy bike duds. with snazzy bikes. and then there was me. runner girl trying to be a bike chick for a while. runner girl who can't even clip out of her pedals on time at every stop & has got the bruises & cuts all over her knees to prove it. in my bike shorts, with a running top on. on a 20 year old hand-me-down steel bike.
as an aside, i am looking at 20 year old steel bike as the equivalent to high-altitude training. i mean, jaysus - if i can get fast (eventually) on this old beast ... imagine what i can do when i get down to sea level on a snazzy, carbon somethingoranother bike.
so - ride starts, everyone heads out of parking lot ... i make my husband promise not to leave me .... so we're off & the 3 of us are in the back. i'll spare you the minutiae of every light ... there's a bunch of lights, a bunch of people in front, and i do just fine. we make it out to where we can really start to stretch out a bit & i feel more comfortable ... i hang way back - but am in the middle - there's another big group behind us ... at any rate, we get out to river road (this road parallels the ohio river & is so so so gorgeous) and i'm feeling more comfortable about making my way into pack more ... then i notice my friend paying a lot of attention to his back wheel - he's talking to my husband & there are weird hand signals going on about slowing down & having other riders pass us. i realized he had a flat - my husband was trying to get a tube out of his seat pack for him. th eother riders had passed us & i thought we had to sit on side of road to change a tire -- i thought my husband told me to stop. so i stopped. but what he said was to keep going. how i confused the two is beyond me because they sound nothing alike.
suffice it to say, we lost the group & proceeded on a 6 - 7 mile 22 mph CHASE to try & catch them. amazingly - we did catch the last two stragglers & kept going to see if we could catch the back group ... about 24 miles into this ride, we see the first (i.e shit-ass, crazy fast) group pass us going other way (it was an out & back course) ... we turn around in between this group & the slower group behind us. now - this is where it gets exciting. for me at least. that slower group behind us never caught us. so i am now in the middle group. i am the only chick. my husband says to the guys that its' my first time & i'll hang in the back. i am now in a pace line of 7 veteran riders & i am keeping up. we turn into a little neighborhoody area & there is a hill ... and I SMOKE THEM. ok ... granted, they rode farther than my husband & i ... and this was likely their "easy ride" day ... but i still went right by them all on the hill. my glory was very short lived because where there is an uphill, there are downhills ... and on the downhills - i f-ck up all my hard earned glory because i start to brake like a total wuss.
anyhow - we make it back home. in one piece. i didn't fall. i clipped in to pedals every time. i have a really big problem with the artificial gap that needs to be worked on (this problem deserves an entire post all its' own). i need to grow a pair. i did not cause any major 7 bike pile-up.
i had naively told my husband that i didn't think our 25 mile rides were doing it for me anymore. i felt i could handle more. i got more. i rode 33 miles and averaged 18 mph ... including a 7 mile 22 mph chase ... and i smoked a bunch of guys on a hill. i was drop dead exhausted when i got home. but i did it. i'm fairly proud of myself that i just jumped right in & gave it a try. i need to do a lot of work -- but the tuesday night rides are going to be my regular gig now. i am going to get over my issues & be good at this. all in good time.