The A Ride

Photo by Masanori Nishihama

Photo by Masanori Nishihama

I just got my arse handed to me. It happens every Tuesday morning; I show up, hang with the guys as long as I can, get dropped, recover, catch up to someone who is hopefully a little faster than me so I can push myself and then finally meet up with the group at the end. I call it the A ride.

Up until recently I didn’t know anyone’s name. I knew the group by how they rode and how fast they were. I showed up at 7:30, waited around a bit, and then we were off. Not much talking and a lot of fast riding, at least for me. I’m always the only chick to ride, and most of the group do local races. The ride starts off easy enough for everyone to spin and warm up, but once we get to the first little rise it’s game on. The first few times I did the ride I blinked and the group was gone. These last few I’ve been able to hang on and not feel like I was going to keel over. Progress.

It’s always game over once we get to the windy sections of road. The fast guys stand and sprint them and I’m just happy to stay on someone, anyone’s wheel. Sometimes I’m able to pull awhile, but most times my heart rate is sky high as I’m clinging on for dear life. Past a windy section, a flat run through a village and another section of windy road we reach the final sprint, then around the roundabout and stop with the group to recover.

When I first started, I was dead last. Ride enough A rides, though, and you start moving up in the pack, so lately I’m not the slowest. The ride back is more of the same, easy to start and progressively getting harder. I pick a wheel and follow them until I can’t anymore and drop back to the next wheel. When the pain is over, all the guys go get breakfast and coffee. Generally I pass on this in order to get home and write these posts, but today I ended up joining them for a bit, and then getting my arse kicked some more on the final stretch home.

It’s time to hang up the fast wheels, though. I’m heading back to the states on Thursday, first to Tokyo and then home to Boston. I’ll be in snow-land for awhile, enough time to recover from the season and work on some base miles as well as get properly tired of the cold and want to head back. The cyclocross races are done for the year, and the Fat Bike racing doesn’t start till after I leave, so I have zero opportunities to be competitive, therefore the prescription is long, slow rides on my winter bike.

Riddle me these two questions:

  • Do you have a local ride that really pushes you every week?
  • How are you winding down from this past year and gearing up for the next?

  • Anthony Barr

    I too used to get my butt handed to me…not just on the A ride, but the B and C ride several years ago… we have a local group that has now split into 5 different speeds / abilities on Thursday evenings here is Carmel, Indiana at a LBS called Nebo Ridge Bicycles. I don’t race competitively but ride with racers on longer, albeit slower weekend groups…but they typically end up being hammerfests as well. I am now able to hang with the bottom of the A group or the top of the B group during out spring/summer/fall Thurs niters. Whenever I see a newbie show up to these rides, I try to pick one and give them a couple of pointers / lessons learned. Some racers look down up on these folks, but I will always remember where I came from and being “that new guy”. It can be tremendously intimidating as all well know. What some racers don’t get is that helping the new guy or girl become more welcomed to the larger groups as w hole can only help grow the sport locally and even nationally, bit by bit. Just my opinion.

    as far as winding down, I like to trail run and hike with my wife and our dogs…maybe a little weight training..

  • http://www.reasons2ride.com/ Joel Phillips

    We have different views of “The A-Ride” For me, it’s doing safety checks and airing up tires on my wife’s and my bicycle, then hitching the dog’s trailer up to mine. We head east along Bear Creek on the appropriately named Bear Creek Trail, a 5-mile gentle and subtle downhill ride with wildlife and waterfalls to steal your attention. Once we arrive at the Platte River we turn south, cross a bridge over the river and continue for another 8-miles on the Mary Carroll until we get to Chatfield State Park, which is in Littleton, Colorado. The pace is leisurely for this 27 mile round trip, with frequent stops to, “take it all in”! At the park, there is an off-leash dog park with a lake, which for my dog Charlie is pretty much heaven. We make a day out of this, enjoying the riding and the stopping. We’ll swing on the swings at the parks, scavenge for errant tee shots next to all 4 of the golf courses we pass, play fetch in the water with Charlie, watch a momma duck swim with her ducklings and simply sit and look at the mountains.

    To answer your questions; I teach a spin class Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings which pushes me to perform. I don’t really wind down, and to be honest I can hardly believe this year is almost over!

  • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

    Good job at hanging with the A group….and a great post as well. Have a good trip and I look forward to hearing more about your Malaysia riding when you return.

    In response to your question, there is a 3 mile loop here that is a constant incline and quite challenging. Up until a few weeks ago I had only added one loop to my ride, but then decided to do it twice in a row. I’ve done that a few times now, but today I did three loops for the first time.

    I don’t have an off season so I really don’t have a point where I wind down from one year and gear up for the next.