If there was any doubt about my current biking abilities, my race performance last Sunday, showed I have a lot of work to do.
For weeks, I’ve been endeavoring to get out the door by 5:30 a.m. and check out the Blue Hills Cycling Club. Waking up at 4:45 is almost ungodly, but it’s been happening with increased frequency lately. It helps that the sun rises at 5.
But in addition to an ungodly wake-up call, the fact is that I’ve been scared to go to a ride. I know I’m not as fast as I once was, and I know I’ll probably get dropped. Cyclists can also be an overly competitive bunch and there have been times, even when I was in peak physical condition, that guys (it’s almost always a guy) have made me feel like I shouldn’t be there. Of course, this always just makes me get mad and motivates me to ride harder, but it also stinks and makes me not want to go back. I wasn’t sure what I’d find at the weekday rides, when folks are trying to squeeze in a certain number of miles before work.
The 6 a.m. rides start a few miles from my place, which means I can ride to the ride, and not waste time in the car/battling traffic. Dorchester between 5:30 and 6 is relatively quiet, and I made it to Milton a few minutes early. Six guys showed up, a big change from the NP workouts that sometimes exceed 700. Folks introduced themselves- a few of them had done the Harpoon B2B ride last weekend, an arduous 130-mile journey from Bedford, MA to Okemo Mountain, Vermont. This was to be a “recovery ride” for them.
We took off towards Quincy at a quick clip. I tucked into the pace line, but as soon as we hit the first hill I got dropped. We regrouped at a stop light and I managed to more or less stay with the group until we got to Quincy Shore Drive. “Go ahead and get on his wheel,” one guy told me as I turned the corner. But despite pedaling at 25 mph, I never caught the guy whose wheel I was supposed to get on. They were FAST. I’m sure that riding along the ocean was beautiful, and that the sunrise was really pretty, but the only thing I remember from this stretch is pushing as hard as I could and watching the group in front of me get further and further away. One guy, recovering from a lung infection, hung back, gave me a pull, and then told me what the next few turns were in case I got dropped again (I did). We turned at Furnace Brook Parkway and rode it to the end, and then I missed a turn, and somehow caught up with them on Willard Street. That was the last I saw of most of the guys. I’m a terrible hill climber, and it took me a while to make it through Blue Hills. The same guy came back for me, and we rode together the rest of the way at a pace that was fast for me (18/19 mph), but no one else.
We made it back to Milton by 7 and said our goodbyes. That guy could have left me at any point, but he didn’t and I was really appreciative. I was actually appreciative of the whole experience. The group could not have been nicer, and while I basically got dropped, I realize that everyone is out there to train hard, and I certainly don’t want to hold anyone back. I also know that pushing yourself to ride with people who are faster than you is a really great way to get faster. Maybe next week, I’ll manage to ride four miles without getting dropped. The next week, perhaps five or six… and so on. I always know where I am, I know how to change a flat and find my way home, so I have nothing to lose.
After the ride, I went online and joined BHCC. I want to endeavor to ride with them two or three times a week, and I figure if I’m taking advantage of the organization, I should pay for the $25 membership. Yes, I feel like I’m cheating on November Project. But I know what my body needs, and I’m not foregoing it entirely. My thought is that I’ll bike Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays, and do NP-related things Tuesdays and Fridays. If it rains, I’ll skip biking in favor of NP/running.
Speaking of running, I’ve had almost no pain in my hip since my race last week. Given that, my PT thinks that I can start incorporating some runs into my routine again! Or course, now I have to figure out when/how to do that, given that much of my time is now devoted to swimming, biking, and PT. But I’m looking forward to getting back on my feet again.
My PT has been taking up a good amount of time. I want to do it right, which means doing focusing on form and slowing down. I need 45 minutes to an hour to get through the whole routine.
My workouts last week looked like this:
Wednesday: Bike 14, 19 sections at Stadium, PT
Thursday: swim at Walden, PT
Friday: Bike 30, run 2, PT
Saturday: Run 3.5, PT
Sunday: Bike 35
Totals: run 5.5, bike 79, swim 1