Today I learned that maybe, just maybe, I do not suck at cycling as much as I thought.
I joined up with DC Tri’s Sunday group, which departs from Georgetown at 8:30am (at least until it warms up) and rides anywhere from 60 to 100 miles. I was nervous for several reasons: I’ve only ridden 60 or more twice in my life, I’m not awesome with groups, I’m not particularly fast and the temperature less than ideal. Here’s where I’m grateful to the boy who made me buy cold weather gear.
Anyway — when the group gathered I was happy to see a few other women there, but I was still uneasy about riding with 30 other people who likely were faster than me. We started up Wisconsin, left on Reservoir and out McArthur, the same route I did yesterday.
On the way out, the fastest guys took off and the rest of us got splintered into a couple of chase groups. Then we hit the hill up McArthur to Falls Rd., and I discovered I’m actually good at climbing. I passed a number of people ahead of me on the way up (see the first huge spike on the elevation chart) and hit our first gas station pit stop ahead of half the group and all the other girls. Well, maybe I CAN do this?
Then we took off together down River Rd. toward the lollipop loop and set up a nice paceline. Now, this is where I get nervous. Riding in a pack is hard because you get boxed in, but sitting right on someone’s wheel is even tougher because speed is really inconsistent and it’s hard to see what’s more than a few feet ahead of you. But I managed to keep up, stay stable and feel confident with the starts and stops. Plus, there were some decent climbs, and I was able to attack them with more power and speed than I was expecting.
Overall, it was a great ride, and I’m realizing that going out with a group is faster and more fun than doing it alone. I was able to hang with the guys without too much effort, get in the third-longest ride I’ve ever done and work on the hills, which I’ll definitely encounter in my races this season.
Now if only triathlons were draft-legal…
The summary: 58.44 miles (we took a different route back, which cut at least 1.5 from the plan, 3:17:28 total time (average pace 17.6mph, which ain’t terrible for all the hills) and 2,600 feet of climbing.
Do you like riding with groups or alone? Any tips for building confidence in this area?