So about a week ago I decided I wanted to try my hand at bike racing - you know, the kind that isn't preceded by a swim or followed by a run. In talking with my bike racer friend, he suggested I come out to this weekly ride to get a feel for riding in a pack, drafting, etc. This little weekly ride is the aforementioned "Tuesday Night World Champs". He assured me there'd be plenty of riders who would break up into packs so I wouldn't have to worry about hanging onto the fast guys. Because we BOTH knew that wouldn't happen.
So, I met Steve at his house last night around 5, then we headed to the rendez-vous point where he and his brother wait for the ride to roll around then jump on. As we are waiting, we see three riders screaming down the hill to our left. At that point, I see fear in Steve's eyes. Three riders?? That was not good. Then another pack came down the hill, but it was only about 10 riders. And that was it. Steve had warned me if it was a small group, it would be a fast group. And, of course, I was the only female. Wonderful. Can I just go home now? Please?
Well I didn't go home...I jumped on the back of the group and proceeded to head out of town with them. Once we got out of the city, the speed began to creep up. I kept looking at my bike computer - 24, 25, 26 mph. Holy hell. I held on to the back of the pack. (Although it turns out not close enough, according to Steve) Steve had said if I could make it up the Saylorville Dam hill and not get dropped, I could at least make it to Ankeny with the group. The hill was coming. I was getting nervous. 26, 27, 26 mph. I was working pretty darn hard to hang on. These guys looked like they were out walking the dog. ARGH!
Then there it was...the hill. Not a huge hill by any means, but a hill nonetheless. And the one where the women get dropped. I wanted so bad to hang up that hill. Those guys hit the bottom of the thing and they were up out of their saddles attacking it. Me, in my little triathlete mindset of spinning up a hill, reacted a bit too slowly and by the time I was out of the saddle attacking, they had opened up a gap. I was a goner. Absolutely NO chance of bridging that sucker. Damn it!
After the hill, I saw them up ahead and they were just putting more and more distance on me. Then we hit a spot on the route where there were several roads you could turn on...and since I couldn't see them anymore, I had no idea where they turned. And then I also realized I had no idea where the hell I was. I finally stopped at a little park to look at my notecard with directions on it. And then it started to rain. Are you freaking kidding me???? At that point I considered calling Greyt to come pick me up...but I wasn't even sure I could tell her where to pick me up. *sigh* So I did the only thing I really could do...HTFU, woman! I got back on the bike and headed north.
I finally found my way into Polk City and as I was heading in through town, I hear this guy yell behind me. It was Steve. YAY! I somehow managed to get back in front of the group and now had some people to ride with for awhile. That is, until the fast guys caught us a few miles later and Steve and the others dumped me again so they could get back on with the others. Those guys motored past me like I was standing still. Unreal.
Will I ever go back to TNWC? Um, maybe. After I've spent more time riding and have gotten stronger, perhaps. I didn't dislike the ride, and what happened was exactly what I thought would happen, so it's not like I was terribly disappointed or anything. And the point of me riding with them was not to hang on the entire ride anyway. It was to give me a feel for the pack riding dynamics and get some pointers from Steve for Saturday's race. I learned a lot in the 30 mins I hung with the group. And I'm excited to race the Cat 4 women on Saturday. I think I'll do ok....
2 days ago