Saturday, January 17, 2009

T3 group ride is not so group

I'm supposed to be in Florida at a vet conference, but since I didn't get the scholarship and I didn't want to spend my own money on it, I'm here in Austin. I did get Saturday covered at work and so I have a Saturday off in town! Yay! And mostly what that means is I can go on the group long bike ride. This one was from Kiker Elementary to Fitzhugh, out and back, and for my training I was supposed to do ~25 miles, though the IM people were doing 50. And for this ride, the coaches are starting pace groups to help people ride together and spend less time alone and/or waiting if they need help. So if you plan on riding 17mph or less, you go with Gamma group that leaves at 8:45. 17-18 you're Alpha and leave at 9:00. 18-19 Beta and leave at 9:07 and 20+ Zappa and leave at 9:15. First of all my average speed is well below 17 mph. Probably closer to 12-13, and even slower if there are a lot of hills. Second, when did Zappa become a Greek letter?

I get there way too early and luckily K is there- one of the genuinely friendly people that knows my name and talks to me regularly at practices. We chat and she gives me advice and then all of the sudden the Gamma group is leaving the parking lot. So before we leave the parking lot I've already been dropped by my pace group! I do have the turns printed out and find a rhythm and am surprised it takes about 30 minutes to get passed by the Alpha group. It's chilly- about 45 degrees and overcast, but I'm sweating buckets inside my cycling jacket, especially struggling up the hills, and then going downhill I get chilled. I think next time I'll leave the jacket and just wear an extra layer or two of thicker technical shirts. Close to my turnaround, I get passed by the Beta group and then two people who I assume are the only Zappas.

I'm tired and chilled, and so I cut short the turnaround by a mile and head back. It's much, much easier on the way back- I was warned about this, but aside from two large hills, I'm back to the car in 45 minutes when it took 1:05 to get out to the turnaround. Everyone else is still finishing their 50 miles, so I pack up and head on to the Farmer's Market, another thing I don't get to do when I work every Saturday.

So overall, the group ride was a good experience. I found a new route, and I pushed myself. But really it was not a group ride at all, as I spent less than 5 minutes out of almost two hours riding with any other cyclist. And that's a good lesson because I get all weirded out by having to ride by myself all the time. Really, even on group rides, I'm still going to be riding by myself. The only way to fix that is to plan rides with S more, and/or get faster so that I can keep up with the Gamma group. And really I just need to ride more in general. And now that I know more of what to wear so that I don't have the excuse "it's cold", I'm totally going to do more!

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