i went on my usual monday night chicks-only skirt ride this past monday; but there was nothing usual about it. usually, we ride and do some drills - hill repeats or intervals, or we have a cornering and bike handling clinic and then a mock crit. usually, we ride and then collect at certain places to get tips and instructions.
we took things up a notch on monday - a big, quads screaming, lactate threshold burning notch. you see, there is a weekly ride in town that has become known as the tuesday night worlds' (a.k.a. TNW) - i have never been on this ride but hear all about it from my husband. the ride is comprised of local category 1,2 and 3 racers. it is a massive testosterone-fest of a weekly race; complete with attacks, surges, breaks and a whole bunch of other bike racy terms i am only just now learning about.
monday nights' ride was the skirt version of the tuesday night worlds'; minus the testosterone. thus, it was way cooler. we were pre-warned about the ride - there were going to be surges, there were going to be attacks, people were going to get dropped. we knew going in what it would be like - it was the skirt worlds'.
there were seven of us, a mix of seasoned racers, new racers and triathletes. i went into the ride with strict intructions from my coach (a.k.a my husband) on how to ride, what to do when and what not to do. my goal was to make it to the end without getting my ass handed to me. i knew going into this ride what my current limitations were. i do not have a huge bike base right now, i'm just using whatever is leftover from my running base. i'm not strong enough (yet!) to do any long pulls or attacks and hope to make it to the end in one piece. so, my goal was to ride smart. if i found myself on the front, i was to do a short pull and then pull off. i was to hang on to the breaks, push it and suffer through the surge knowing that it would not last. i was to save myself for the hill climb that would come when we turned off a fast & furious ride down river road. mostly, i was to get on a wheel, stay there and suck it.
for the most part, the ride smart plan worked. some of the surges and attacks i could hang onto. others, not so much. i fell off at one point -so much so that i was dropping f-bombs all over the place, hauling ass, sucking wheels and sucking wind trading pulls to get up to one person, to then get up to the group. despite this minor hyperventilating setback, it was a hugely successful ride for me. i did hang on to some attacks. i didn't burn up all my matches. i did short pulls. and while i was dying on some of the flats (i always am) i felt great on the climbs and had juice at the end of the ride. nobody handed my ass to me.
here's what i loved most: seeing when the attacks would happen. our skirt rides leader would literally annouce that someone was about to attack - it wasn't so much to ruin the attackers fun, but more so that we could learn. which was great for me seeing as in the three races i have been in, i had no idea what the hell was going on until it was far too late: i'd be off the back and the rabbit chase was on -- i would see them, through my haze of hyperventilation - riding slowly. slowly! i knew my recovery time was just up ahead, sucking someone's wheel. but now i know, thanks to my husbands' insistence that i join the club rides again and thanks to last monday nights' skirt ride, that if you can just hang onto that initial surge, that initial attack - it will. slow. down.
it is a great group of girls. i love the support they'll give to a newbie by saying "get on my wheel!" and the inspiration they provide when they are oh so hard to catch. with another skirt worlds' ride this monday, i am hoping that i will have learned a little bit more about riding smarter and will be able to recognize the attacks in next weekends' race and hang on, before its too late.