Tag Archives: group rides

The Blessing of a Red Light

Author Wendy Mogel, author of  The Blessing of a Skinned Knee and The Blessing of a B Minus is on to something. The gist of her parenting books basically argue that it is acceptable for children to be imperfect and that we are doing a disservice as parents by removing obstacles and failures from our kids’ lives. It is healthy, natural and a blessing to experience some defeat. She’s saying, which is absolutely true, that the whole “Everyone’s a winner” mentality is not real life. So get over it. But this is for the most part, a bike blog; I shall now conclude  the parenting metaphors for the day.

I’ve ridden in many assorted groups, and I’ve come to the conclusion that there are two types of cyclists. One group, when approaching a yellow or red light, refuses to unclip and gently bobbles, balances and quickly removes the self-inflicted wedgies while waiting for the light change. The highest priority is the moment the light turns green they can haul ass, reassert themselves as alpha leaders and continue to surge and make those folks in the back feel like Duncan yo-yos.

The second group are my comrades and fellow bike slackers. As I approach a yellow light, a warm flow of relief encapsulates me as I know I can not only slow down and unclip, but chug some water and take some nice deep breaths. Because we all need a recovery, and I’ll take it wherever I can. On my club ride this week, I ride my 45 second pull at 22 m.p.h. as long as I obtain my 1 minute 15 sec draft. There were 3 riders. Now some of those red light haters might say, “I don’t need no stinkin’ recovery, and I can pull for HOURS.” I say baloney! It’s usually the people who say they don’t need it who quietly thank God and traffic they finally get a break.

While my Tuesday Night B Ride might qualify as a recovery ride for some, it is not for me. The ride gets drop-ins from guys who can recover with a 19.5 m.p.h. ride because they are Super Riding A Dudes. For me, it is an interval workout ride because 19.5 is really fast. This week, I finally felt that I had my first respectable ride so far. My first B ride stunk as my average speed was around 16ish. I could barely climb the faux flats at a decent clip and needed the group to allow me to catch up. It was more a D ride than any other letter, and I didn’t go home feeling like king of the pack. But this past Tuesday, I respected myself on the ride.

So really? It’s ok to breathe deep and drink water. It’s ok if you’re not the fastest person on the ride, and those red lights are allowing you to catch up. It’s ok to be a B rider rather than an A. Having realistic and attainable goals make those moments of achieving them really satisfying. I am happy with myself as long as I improve and don’t think the entire team needs an “everyone’s a winner” ribbon. Then again, I’m a Generation X’er. Are we still called slackers? I’ll let you know at the next red light.

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First group ride sucked, but the post ride nap was nice

“It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do not dare that they are difficult.”

Seneca
Roman Philosoper, Statesman

After much deliberation with both sides of my brain, we (I) have come to the conclusion that yesterday’s first group ride fail was not due in part to my legs, or lack of endurance or poor cycling. It was due to the angel and devil residing on my shoulders during a semi-pull into the wind. It was due to being intimidated by the other people in club, not knowing anyone very well, feeling like if I drop off then I’m a loser (I dropped off). It was my head getting the best of me.

Hindsight is a bitch, but literally removing myself from the pack and viewing the gap that formed behind me, was hindsight a little too late. I keep thinking I should’ve tried to stay on the back of the pack and I slowed down too much. Realizing I could’ve just created my own gap and someone would’ve eventually rotated over and closed it makes me want to kick myself in the pants.

How do you stop negative thoughts from taking over? How do you get yourself mentally to a place so you don’t screw up all the people behind you. People say cycling is an individual sport, but when you ride in a club, it is anything but individual. It’s all about communication, alertness, and having the stuff to keep up.

Oh well. There’s always next Sunday.


Aside

Bike bling. You know what I’m talking about. When you’re riding on a trainer indoors, and the person spinning next to you is going 3 times as fast (of course, neither of you are going anywhere, but I digress), with … Continue reading