Saturday saw me return to the local shop I’ve been riding with for group rides. I hadn’t given the ride too much thought throughout the week but it turned out being Awesome with a capital A. That’s why I capitalized it if you didn’t notice.

At the start of the ride we rolled out with about 15 folks. A group of about five took off pretty quickly so we’ll call them the A group. The rest of us kind of fell into a group of our own, at a slower pace, so we’ll call ourselves the B group. There were a few people in the group I hadn’t seen before so I don’t know if they were brand new or just hadn’t been out with us in a while. We had two ladies in the group. One who is a very experienced rider while the other is relatively new. We also had two riders from the shop – one of the mechanics and the shop owner. Both great guys. All-in-all a pretty diverse group.

After leaving the shop, getting past a stoplight, and then a stop sign, we got onto the main route and settled into a paceline at about 18-19 mph. I pulled for the first three or four miles before letting one of the ladies pull a bit. We stayed together like this for the next ten miles or so with each person in the group sharing the pulling although the pulls I took were quite a bit longer than most which I was happy to do. We eventually upped the pace to the 20-21 mph range.

As we neared the end of the ride and were in the final stretch I was sitting third wheel with the shop mechanic in second and the exerienced lady pulling at a pace of about 22 mph. I decided it was time to put a little something into it, pulled out of line and upped the pace to 25 mph. Initially nobody else followed but then the shop dude went by me. I tried to catch him but couldn’t get much past 27. About a hundred yards later we backed it down and took it back to the shop.

Why was the ride so Awesome?

Overall, it was a fantastic ride and one of the best I’ve had in a while. I felt great during the ride and just as good afterwards. After thinking back on it I began to speculate on what the factors were in me having such a great ride. Here’s what I came up with:

  • We had a great group. There were a couple of strong riders in the group (the shop guys and the experienced lady) but we all worked great together. Everybody shared in taking pulls and kept it safe.
  • I contributed. I mentioned that I got a lot of pull time in and that was no exaggeration. I got thanked afterwards for doing it.
  • I’m learning the route. When you start these group rides it takes a little while to learn the route. It paid off today when the shop mechanic flatted. I stopped with him while the group kept going. After a few minutes he told me to go ahead. Because I knew the route, I was able to rejoin with the group about 10 minutes later by paralleling them and and reconnecting with them. It took a good effort to make that connection and then I preceeded to pull again when we formed back up.
  • I stuck to my eating plan. All week I was religious with the new eating plan Kelli has me on. It took some getting used to at first but I fell into a routine by the end of the week.
  • I stayed hydrated. In conjunction with the eating plan I made a big effort to stay hydrated all week. Staying hydrated is something I struggle with so I have to force myself to drink water all day.

How can this help you?

How can this help you on your group rides? While you may not have much control on the makeup of the group you ride with, you can control the last three things. Take the time to learn the route your riding so you can reconnect with the group if you’re dropped or have a mechanical. Sticking with your eating and hydration plans are key and I think the two most important points. You can’t expect to ride great if you’re eating snickers and cheetohs everyday. Your body needs the right fuel in order to put out great efforts on your rides.

Tell me, when was the last time eveything seemed to click and you had an Awesome ride? If you haven’t had one in a while, what do you think is causing it?

PhotoC: TouroFNilgiris