Geographically speaking I am an outsider when it comes to my team. My team is nestled in Battle Creek and Kalamazoo for the most part but I live northwest in Allegan and work even farther northwest in Holland. Not really easy to drive an hour and fifteen minutes to join a group for a ride. Knowing there are many amazing shops in Holland I started looking for a group ride and my friend Chris works at Velo City where he sometimes leads a ride on Tuesdays. He invited me to join and Tuesday is actually the best night of the week for me to get away for some miles. I head about 10 minutes up the road and I arrive at the shop.
They have four groups of varying speeds. The fast guys are riding 40 miles. Smaller group, but not the one I choose. Medium pace, roughly 30 miles at a good clip, Medium slow pace...same route only slower, and then the easy rider pace. Chris was co-leading the medium pace group so I joined in, hoping to not get dropped. He promised I wouldn't get left behind so I was confident I could hang on.
Off we went. My first sign of "this is different" was the acceleration. Wow, boom off the front the group would go and I was trying to hold onto a wheel and would eventually catch back up and hold the pace easily enough. It was the accelerations from the stops that would cause me distress, but I learned quickly that I just need to blast right away too. This is one of my weaknesses so I was already getting worked. The pace was cool though. I was riding where I thought was the middle of the pack only to be surprised that I was last. Hmm, I am holding on okay, but I had no idea I was that close to getting dumped out the back. Eventually I did get dumped.
There is a climb that is about 3/4 of a mile or so and the group held its pace. I saw Chris and the the other leader Jeremy falling off the back of the group as well and I paced until they created separation as well. Climbing is my major weakness so I wasn't surprised, but I was surprised by the other two falling back. The group hit the top and disappeared around the corner....leaving the three of us on an island. No way to bridge and no way to hold the pace we fell into a comfortable rhythm and rode the rest of the route together.
We made it back. Solid ride. Legs were sore Wednesday, even though I wheel sucked for 29 miles. It was fun to ride with a different group and learn techniques such as positioning, braking, cornering, and fractures. Next week will be no different I am sure. Chris will be leading the medium/slow group so I am sure it will stay together better. All I know is that I am a cyclist......and I just wanna ride.
Custer Stampede in a few days!