Friday, May 15, 2009

Maybe I'm fast

Last night's women's group ride was great! Having just put air in the tires and lubed the chain on my bike, I was ready for the 28 mile ride. When I arrived in the bike shop parking lot, I chatted with the youngest participant in the ride - a 13 year old girl who is getting into racing for the first time this year. Her dad is into cycling and encouraged her to give it a try. I wish I would have discovered bike racing when I was young. I think I would have liked to try it. I had no idea it even existed! But who says I can't try it now, right?

Then my mother-in-law arrived to ride with us. She's been trying to get me to ride in the weekly time trials put on by the Rapid Wheelmen, and I've been inviting her to the women's group ride. She's shown up for me, so I guess it's my turn now. To be honest, part of my desire to have her join us on the group ride was to see how I compare to her in biking ability. My in-laws do a triathlon every year, so they've been biking for a long time. I'm new to biking, but I've been putting in pretty good miles. So I was curious.

At 6:30 sharp, we took off. At a couple points, we all stopped to regroup then continue on. In this process, I discovered that I actually am faster than Mom and that I climb hills better than I thought I did. I changed how I approached the hills this week. Instead of shifting down to a really easy gear and pedalling at a high rate, I shifted down a little less and pushed a little more with my legs. That seemed to make me much faster! I had thought that I was supposed to maintain the same level of effort on flats and hills and use shifting alone to adjust. But maybe that's not the best approach.

After the regroup at about mile 12 of the ride, I started off at the back of the group. The fast riders took off and we all spread out a bit. Then I decided to see if I could catch up to the front group. So I pushed the pace and started closing gaps and passing people. I eventually caught the second group and decided that the lead group was still pretty far up, so I stuck with the 2nd group ladies for the last 6 miles. I wish I knew what my average speed was for the ride. Unfortunately, my computer started displaying strange alien symbols just prior to the mile 12 regroup point. It was a $20 computer. I guess I got what I paid for. Annoying.

So, making up so much distance over the ride and pretty much smoking my mother-in-law made me feel like maybe I could be a pretty fast cyclist. At least for a newbie. I think that if I started with them, I could keep up with the lead group. I'm going to give it a try next week! And if I can ride with women who are on race teams, maybe I should try racing myself! I'll probably be mediocre, like I was at running, but who knows. Maybe biking is my athletic niche.

Or perhaps, this is just like what happened to me in cross country in high school. I would run 20 miles a week all summer and come to the first day of practice in better shape than everyone who was lazy all summer. Then, they would all catch up, and I'd sort of burn out early and end up somewhere in the middle of the pack.

In any case, my list of bike related things to try now includes:

- mountain biking
- a road race

I'm doing the century in June, but I don't really think of that as a speed race. I just want to finish it. But what about something shorter? What skills do I need to do a race like that? Could be interesting!

I never imagined I'd be thinking about racing when I started casually riding my bike three years ago. But I guess I'm getting more gutsy as I get older. I endure more muscle burn, more fatigue. I've been through it before, so I know I'll survive. I've skidded on some pavement now, so falling over on a tight turn (though definitely a sucky thought) is less scary. And I'm told that at 29 I'm in my athletic peak. I should be lifting weights more - I need to put the increasing testosterone in my system to use! lol


  1. Boy, when you computer starts giving out messages like mine did on my last blog entry, then you know you're in trouble!

  2. It must be a great feeling to be faster than your mother-in-law. Good luck with your racing, you should do it.