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First road group ride: The WMBC 100 KM “Donut King” ride.

Monday, November 12, 2012 by  
Filed under Daily Blog

November
12
2012
The "Donut King" route is just one of the many "We Must Be Crazy" cycling club group rides.

The “Donut King” route is just one of the many “We Must Be Crazy” cycling club group rides.

On Saturday morning I did my very first road group ride, and the experience was definitely something I’ll never forget.

I rode with a a local cycling club known as “We Must Be Crazy” (which I’ll call “WMBC” or “The Crazies” for the rest of this blog). I already knew a few of the Crazies because we’d been mountain biking together, but for the most part I was meeting the group members for the first time on Saturday morning.

My friends Mike Simmons, Daniel Cleaver and Paul Lewis were all there, and I’d estimate about another 15-20 riders participated in the ride. It was a good turnout.

The weather was absolutely spectacular: a bit chilly at around 49° (F) when we set off at 8:00 AM sharp (roadies are very punctual, which I like), but it quickly warmed as the sun climbed higher into the sky. We enjoyed crystal clear skies and temperatures in the mid-70s for the majority of the ride.

I met so many new people on Saturday and was a bit overwhelmed by all the new things I was experiencing; as such, many of the faces and names I tried to commit to memory became nothing but alphabet soup in my feeble brain. My apologies. 😮

The route selected for Saturday’s ride was a good one: a metric century (100 KM) ride with about 2,200 feet of climbing. This route is known as “Donut King” because there is a stop made at the Donut King shop at about the halfway point. Here’s the complete route and the elevation graph (click to enlarge):

The We Must Be Crazy "Donut King" Route, as ridden on Saturday, November 10, 2012. A total of 100 KM with about 2,200 feet of climbing.

The We Must Be Crazy “Donut King” Route, as ridden on Saturday, November 10, 2012. A total of 100 KM with about 2,200 feet of climbing.

 

My understanding was the entire group generally hangs together for the first 10-15 miles, and then would break up into smaller groups based on speed. I didn’t know where I’d wind up, but I’m a competitive person and so in the back of my mind I knew damn well I was going to try to stay with the A-Group.

When we set off I was feeling great, and the cool air was invigorating. As we warmed up I talked with some of the other riders, and tried to absorb as much information as I could. I carefully watched how the others interacted and communicated (both verbally and with hand signals), how closely they followed one another, how long the lead rider would pull–stuff like that.

My friend Mike Simmons and I had done a few urban assaults on our mountain bikes (as well as a road bike ride), so Mike had already given me a great primer on how roadies behave on group rides. This information was invaluable and, thanks to Mike, I didn’t feel awkward or like a complete newbie.

Of course I was, in fact, the new guy and–as expected–I took a fair amount of friendly ribbing as we rode along. Murphy’s Law was also in full effect, and less than an hour into the ride my rear tire flatted. The entire group had to stop, and I got to change my tube with a captive audience. Great. Of course with nothing else to do, the others thoroughly critiqued every aspect of my repair technique, tapped their feet, mock checked their watches… 🙂 I tried to hurry, and in reality the repair only took a few minutes, but it felt like an hour had passed.

Not too long after my flat we hit Sugarloaf Mountain. I charged the hill pretty hard and turned in a time of 3m03 seconds. I was fastest in our group, but my time was nowhere near my PR of 2m50s (which is 23rd out of 407 riders/1476 total rides). I think subconsciously I may have held back a little knowing I still had another 40 miles to go, and a lot more climbing.

I did turn in a new PR on the “Pre-Loaf” segment, which moved me up to 7th overall out of 412 riders and 1523 total rides. I’m pretty happy about that.

As we moved past Sugarloaf and into some of the other surrounding climbs the group started to split apart. I’d stopped to fill my water bottles after the Sugarloaf climb, but I managed to catch the leaders a short time later. As we rode along people started dropping off until just four remained in the lead group: Paul Lewis, Daniel Cleaver, Brian “Spidycus” Jensen and myself.

I already knew Paul and Daniel because we’ve done some mountain biking together, and so I knew they were both very strong riders. Brian Jensen races Masters, and is a monster. For example, I remember on a particularly tough climb I was focused, riding hard and panting like a dog when Brian appeared next to me chatting as if he were sitting in a chair out back on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Not only is Spidy a strong rider, he’s a real character! Dude had me cracking up pretty much constantly–at least until he dropped all of us. 🙂

When I was pulling (the lead rider) I had to work really work to maintain the fast pace Paul and Daniel had set. Once after I finished my turn up front I was hurting, and fell back a little too far. I only fell behind about 20 yards, but outside of the slipstream I was no longer able to draft and I had to work very hard to not fall further behind (I was determined to not lose the group!) Thankfully we hit a traffic light, which allowed me to catch up. After that I never let myself fall out of the slipstream again. Valuable lesson.

Paul, Daniel and Brian really pushed and inspired me on that long stretch where we rode together. There is no question that riding with the Crazies is going to make me a much stronger athlete.

You may recall that after last weekend’s solo 87 KM ride that I complained about pinching between my shoulder blades. I received some great advice from JSF member “abuseguy”, and that really helped. I was still feeling a bit of pain back there about halfway into yesterday’s ride, and Paul Lewis (who had read last weekend’s blog) had been watching me ride with that in mind. Paul offered some invaluable advice based on his observations: my elbows were still a little too flared (all those years of being in the MTB “attack position” has made this a habit), my arms were too straight and I needed to use more of my core instead of my arms to support my weight. I really focused on these things for the rest of the ride, and the pain between my shoulder blades never returned! Thanks to “abuseguy” and Paul for their outstanding advice! I can’t thank you both enough.

I set quite a few new personal records on Saturday: Longest ride (100.10 kilometers); most climbing in a single ride (2,184 feet); fastest speed on a bike (42.3 MPH); PR (7th overall) on “Pre-Loaf” segment; PR (2nd overall) on the Sullivan Rd segment; PR on the Hilly Junction segment; PR on the 561A toward Scrubjay segment; PR on the 561A Westbound Hill to Scrub Jay segment.

Here’s the complete ride on Strava.

I completed the ride strong, and had no cramping or fatigue/bonking issues. I’ve been experimenting with some different intra-ride nutrition products, and I’ll talk about some of those in an upcoming blog.

I want to thank the Crazies for such a warm welcome to their riding club! As a mountain biker, I never expected to enjoy road cycling as much as I do. Saturday’s group ride is definitely on my top 5 list of memorable bike experiences, and I have you guys to thank for that. I’m looking forward to many more adventures.

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