Yesterday I joined a group of friends by Yankee Springs for a training ride. The course is the one used for the Barry Roubaix. It is safe to say that there are a few hills out there. Seems like there is one around every corner....and every corner is uphill. Anyway, I have been invited for many weeks to do this training ride. I was apprehensive to go because I don't like to be the slowest person in the group. Being the slowest person in the group means that you are holding up someone and potentially ruining their training ride. I was reassured that it would not be a problem...and that I would get faster every time I do the ride. So....I went.
It was 37 degrees when I parked the car. Dan T. and April were the first people to arrive. Thankfully, Dan T. had a windbreaker that I borrowed so the wind didn't freeze me to death. Once everyone else arrived we headed out. Dan S. and I were first to go..and the rest of the group followed. We didn't make it very far before everyone passed me. Most passers told me "good job" or "keep going" as they passed. We reached one corner and everyone was there waiting for me. At this point...what I was afraid of most was happening....I was slowing everyone down...and we had about 25 miles to go. Ugh.
We took off again. Pat and Cathy caught up to me and my ride changed dramatically. Dan S. was waiting for me, as he said he would......and the addition of Pat and Cathy was a definite boost. We were climbing a hill and Pat came back to me.....he started offering me tips. Breathe....slow your breathing........keep going. That tip alone was enough to keep me going....because I was mentally ready to quit...and we were only 10 miles in.
Cathy always offers encouragement. She just says the right things....Good job...keep going....you're doing good....ect. A few hills later as she passed she told me these things. They always help!
On a MF'r of a hill Dan S. came rolling back down to me. He told me to drop into granny gear and just keep spinning. I don't like the granny gear....but I am really glad I had it yesterday. I used it on many of the hills because I just didn't have the legs to power of them. As I rolled into the parking lot everyone was standing there. Everyone gave some type of congratulations or encouragement. Overall....30 miles in just under 3 hours. Yikes. Next time will be better right?
I thanked everyone for the encouragement and for waiting for me. It was really appreciated that they would wait for me....know I am slower....and that I struggle with hills. They never complained once....just kept me moving forward.
One other rider had a bigger impact on me. He asked me before we started "do you realize how fast you are going to be when you lose more weight?"...and all I could do was smile and say that I could only imagine. He was not being rude....he was offering more encouragement. I asked him about it later that night because it stuck with me. He sent me a long message about why he said that to me. With all of the encouragement that I got from all of the people his message hit harder. He told me that guys like me are good for the sport. Guys like me? Middle aged slow fat guys? No.....middle aged overweight guys with a drive to do better. Guys that may be spit out the back of the pack....but keep going. Guys that are willing to ride in nearly freezing temperatures because someone thought it was a good idea. Guys that love to ride for the simple reason that we can ride.
Encouragement......pass it on.