Posted by: Karen | July 19, 2009

New for Me – Group Cycling

I realize that cyclists ride in groups all the time, but up until last week my triathlon training has involved just me and my bike out there on my own. There’s no true need for me to learn to ride with a group, as drafting isn’t allowed during triathlons anyway, but over the years I’ve benefited educationally and motivationally from running with a group; why not try cycling with one?

Tuesday after work I drove my car straight from the train to Bragg Creek, a little town close to the mountains. I met up with two friendly, helpful women from the Cyclo Bellas. They smiled when I introduced myself as “a runner with a bike”, and winced at the marks on my legs from my clipped-in fall the week before.

We rode out to Allen Bill Pond and back, which took us about 90 minutes (~25k) on beautiful rolling hills.

They gave me a basic lesson on drafting and pulling, because really? I had no clue how it worked. I really didn’t think it would make so BIG a difference to draft, but it did! Pulling is harder than I thought, not just physically, but also mentally because the leader has to keep a steady pace and signal to the followers about hazards.

I’m still not sure about pulling/drafting etiquette, like when I should offer to pull and for how long, etc., but I guess I’ll figure that out as I go along. I think I need to update my bike computer, to understand my pace and effort better.

Sometimes as we rode along there was a whole different language out there, as they talked about the TDF and Crits and gear. We didn’t ride really hard, except on the uphills. I didn’t want to go too hard because I wasn’t sure how I’d manage if I got tired, and I didn’t want to get too tired on my first ride with them, since I had the choice. As it turns out, I was tired enough the next day, when my muscles finally remembered to complain about the hills.

Since we were near (in?) a provincial park, we rode over nasty cattle gates. These had skinny strips of metal for bikes to use when crossing, but I had a hard time staying on the stupid little strips. We went over 3 on the way out, which meant 3 more on the way back. I didn’t get all the way across on a strip until the very last one. I just couldn’t stay straight on them, but I was elated the last try, when I DID!

It tried to rain on us, and we did get a little wet, but dried quickly. The cool breeze was nice most of the time. I’m looking forward to more group rides.

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