Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Second "A" Group Ride...slightly better results

I went out for a second attempt at staying with AFC's "A" group for a 35 mile bike ride of torture.  My cycling computer decided to not work (the sensor was out of alignment) so I don't have speed data.  However, based purely on staying with the pack, I did a bit better.

This time, I survived the first hill and made it to the first area that they sprint.  I was stuck in the back, for some reason I never seem to stay in the middle of the paceline since riders are constantly rotating.  I guess I have to pay more attention to the flow around me.  There is certainly none of this in running!  Anyway, just before the sprint I was behind two other riders who fell off the pace a bit so I went around them and dropped the hammer just in time to catch up to the main group.

The actual sprint lasts about 1.6 miles.  It seemed like they were in a double file line with the leaders dropping back every so often to allow a fresh cyclist to lead.  I never did bother working my way up to the front.  It pretty much took everything I had just to barely stay with it.  My heart was pounding through my chest and I was breathing about 5K effort hard (some others seemed a bit more comfortable!).  My quads and hamstrings felt like they were going to explode out of my legs.

As we neared the end, the pace picked up to another level that I did not have and I slowly lost contact with the pace line.  However, I was certainly not the first to do so, as only a small handful of the rather large group actually made it to the end in the line.  We regrouped at the conclusion, and I was happy to still be with the group.  I had already improved over last week to last this long.  Not to mention that sprinting down the road with 10-15 other cyclists is quite the adrenaline rush...

The pace slackened as we approached the first decent hill climb...Lawyers Hill.  I don't know how long this hill is, but it certainly feels like it goes on forever.  Of course, I thought I was hot shit at this point, still being with the A group this far into the ride.  As we climbed the hill, I was able to stay with the group rather easily, especially on the steep part.  As the hill started to level out, I once again somehow found myself in the back.  One of these days, I'll keep myself in the middle!!  Some people started to drop and I was stuck behind them.  A gap started to form and I went around to try and close it.  However, I seemed to have very little left in my legs as that all too familiar feeling of getting dropped reared its ugly head again!

No matter what I did, the pelaton slowly rode off until they were out of sight.  Defeated by the hill!!!  A few of us had a rotating pace line going in an attempt to catch back up.  I also now finally know what to do in a rotating pace line (definitely still a newb here...).  It involves a continuous circle basically.  The lead rider moves left and lets the second rider in the line take over while he falls to the end.  Then after a few minutes, the new lead rider backs off and so on.  In this rotating fashion, everyone gets to hide in the draft to recover and the pace quickens.

Unfortunately it did not work, and I didn't know what I was doing anyway!  I went through the next section, the one true hill climb on the course and managed to out climb the 4 riders around me.  Just as I was cresting the hill, the bulk of the A group started going off, their rest complete.  I had two choices.  I could have gone after them with no rest after my hill climb or rested and dealt with either trying to catch them or hanging back with the other stragglers.

Since my heart was about to blow out of my chest, I decided to rest.  I went off in an attempt to find the A group but never caught back up.  It was irrelevant anyway, I had almost nothing left in the tank at that point.  Regardless, I was happy with the results, being able to hang on just a bit longer and being able to push myself harder to the point that I truly was beat.

Talking to one of the other riders, he mentioned my best bet was to just get as many miles in as possible and by the start of the next riding season, I should be able to keep up.  This was the last group ride of this season, so now I have until March to get my ass in gear.  Very much like running, just riding a lot should really help.  Clearly, I just don't have enough in the tank hit the number of hard efforts they make during these 35 mile rides.  With some practice on my own and some longer rides, it should all come together!

I found a triathlon club that does duathlon style brick workouts on Wednesdays, as well as another group that rides Tues/Thurs to hold me over for the remainder of the riding season.  I even found a group that rides during the winter (much more difficult than running in the winter).  Hopefully all of this will continue to develop my cycling skills and by this time next year, I'll be talking about pulling along that A group instead of holding on for dear life!  During the winter, spinning becomes a viable option for cyclists but honestly, I don't know if I'll be able to stand it.  After my experiences during March/April, I don't know that I could ever use aerobic exercise equipment again!

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