Saturday was another great off-season training day:
I have not had a chance to go on the Pay'nTake group ride for a few months. I am usually out on the roads by myself trying to stick to the plan. Not today. Today my motto was:
Hang On or Bust!
Usually half of the group is dropped by the time the fast guys get to mile 25. I have been able to (more or less) hang with them until mile 35 but never longer than that. That was going to change today. At least I was going to try. Try my hardest and hang on to the wheel in front of me with all I've got. That was my idea of fun today! If I ride with them at all during the season, I am either too tired by the time Saturday rolls around or I don't want to kill myself because I need to run off the bike. Today was the day.
(Why not next week? I am afraid that in another 7 days I will have completely lost all fitness and gained 10 pounds.)
I showed up on my tri bike. Yeah. I know. The blonde girl + tri bike combination is never a good one when dealing with a whole bunch of lycra-clad males. But, seeing how I have not ridden my (old) road bike since the spring and my bike mechanic has been slightly busy, I did not have much of a choice. So I just decided to proof to them that I can, indeed, ride a bike.
The group was much smaller than usual and just the right size. Everybody always takes it fairly easy until we get to The Mailboxes. Quick pit stop. All the guys pee. Back on the horse. Faster pace until we hit The Steps. This is where the fast guys take off and sprint to the top. Not a chance but I try and don't fall back too far. Luckily we all regroup at The Turn-off. By now half the group has been dropped and turned around. On to Mormon Lake Lodge, the half-way point and re-fueling stop.
Have I mentioned that I love riding in a (well-organized and smooth) double paceline? It's one of my favorite things to do! (While looking up if paceline is one or two words, I found a great article on cycling etiquette. Read it here. I love the author's sense of humor.) We had quite a good one going today, especially on the way back and it was so fun! My Garmin shows that my fastest speed today was 46 mph! This is not ridiculously fast or anything but I don't usually go this fast anymore now that I have kids.
It was fun to meet some new athletes, including a retired pro triathlete and a brand new ITU pro who will be racing professionally for the first time in 2 weeks. This town has a plethora of amazing athletes. I love it!
On the way back is where it gets really interesting. With 2 steep and rather long hills right at the beginning, I was already about to lose it/them. Nooooo! I was just hanging at the back of the group trying not to fall off. Fortunately, I ended up next to a kind guy who said just the right things and forced me to stay with him and even take a few pulls. Yikes! Those were the longest one-minute intervals of my life! Then it happened. Around mile 45. Another break-away. There was jut no way. I was already at my limit and there was no way that I could go any faster. I busted! But I did not give up hope. I just stayed in my aero bars and kept pushing.
Then, seemingly out of nowhere, this lady on her scooter wearing a bike helmet shows up next to me (and some other stragglers) and indicates that she is going to pull us back to the group. What? Did someone hire you? So I tuck in behind her scooter and off we go! Who cares about the exhaust in my face? I've always wanted to paced by a scooter! So fun!
Anyway. With 10 miles to go, the fast guys slow down and I eventually catch up and we ride home. Maybe this was not the smartest thing to do while dealing with a head/chest cold. I was about to lose my voice at the end of the ride and am still dealing with a bad headache but - who cares? If I don't feel like working out on Monday, I won't. No big deal.