Confession: I’m a slow cyclist.
Okay, that’s not really much of a confession, I’ve admitted to that fact several times on the blog before. Actually, I’m pretty sure I mention that every time I take my bike for a ride. Cycling is quite frankly my biggest weakness during a triathlon and it’s my least favorite component to train on. Those are facts I’m not shy to admit.
At one point I felt the same way about swimming… or I thought I felt that way about swimming. It was hard to convince myself to get in a pool and I wasn’t sure how to pick up speed. Then I started training with XP Multisport a few months ago and that all changed.
I’m still not a very “fast” swimmer, but I’ve learned to appreciate the sport a little more. Now I have teammates who are there rooting for me, and wanting me to succeed. Their constant coaching has turned me into a semi-decent swimmer and I’m no longer avoiding swim workouts at all cost, I actually find myself enjoying them.
When those same teammates invited me to go for a ride with them, my initial response was no. These are fast cyclists! I was afraid they would leave me in the dust and I’d be left on my own. With the pool, it’s different. We’re in separate lanes and workouts can easily be tailored to fit both of our abilities, while still training side by side. But on the open road? Gulp. Not so much.
Luckily, Jessica convinced me otherwise. After I voiced my concerns with my speed and abilities for the ride, she told me not to worry. They would start with an easy ride out at my pace, then have a staggered return with intervals for the way back. That way everybody wins.
Alright. I could do this. I could overcome my fear and maybe learn a thing or two in the process.
We all agreed to meet at 10:30 this morning, which – even thought I knew it would be HOT – I didn’t mind. Meeting at 10:30 meant sleeping in and enjoying my morning. I was not complaining.
Maddie missed the we-can-sleep-in memo. She had me us at 7:00am, begging to be taken outside. Then she found her toy and decided this morning was going to be a play morning. Why, Maddie? Why?! She’s lucky she’s cute.
Being up early wasn’t terrible. Once Maddie was done with fetch, I was able to get a good amount of work done before i had to be out the door. I was able able to toast a leftover cornmeal waffle with almond butter and fresh berries for breakfast.
We all met at Jess and Felipe’s place and followed them to middle-of-nowhere Florida for our ride. Gotta love the back country roads of Florida, we went out 20 miles and saw maybe 10 houses, one vineyard, and a teeny, tiny gas station our entire ride. However, we did see a lot of cows and even a few pigs.
I should have asked how far out we were going ahead of time. My last ride was 14 miles and that was a couple of weeks ago. Jess had promised an easy ride, so I didn’t think much about it. I brought two water bottles (one filled with Gu Brew), but forgot any fuel. Rookie mistake! That would come back to bite me in the butt later.
As promised, we started out in a pack for the first half of the ride. Since the roads were empty, we rode two-by-two and really never had a problem with cars passing us. When we first started I was afraid that the team’s “easy pace” would be my hard pace and I would struggle to keep up beyond so many miles, but it really wasn’t that bad. I’m sure staying in the back and catching the drag helped, but I couldn’t believe how great I felt holding 18-ish mph for the ride.
When we reached 16 miles? 17 miles? (my watch died and I wasn’t really paying attention), we started our stagger returns for individual interval sessions. Since I was the slowest I turned to go back first, then the team rode for another mile and the next person turned, then another mile and the next person, and so on and so on.
Our intervals were supposed to consist of 10 minutes hard and 6 minutes easy, but as soon as I left the group, I wasn’t feeling so hot. I didn’t have the lovely drag anymore and the heat was killing me. I also realized I was in desperate need of fuel I didn’t have.
I tried to ride hard for the first 10 minutes, but ended up taking mini breaks in the middle. I never realized how LONG 10 minutes was until the interval started. I kept looking down thinking so much time must have gone by, only to discover only a couple of minutes had passed. Whoa.
The battery in my watch ended up dying in the second hard interval, which was also the point where I lost my interval motivation. I proceeded to “guess” what 10 minutes was, but – who am I kidding? – I’m sure I wasn’t even close. Plus, I was getting really hot and tired at this point. I was done.
Even though I left long before everyone else did, I kept expecting them to come up on my tail at any minute. The entire ride back I kept looking over my shoulder, but there was nothing. Worst case scenarios began to enter my head. Did I make a wrong turn? Did someone get hurt? Where are they?!?! We all had our cells on us, so I know if something major did happen, they would call.
Finally, right when I knew I was getting close to the car, I heard Stephanie come up by me. Turns out Felipe had a flat tire and they had to turn around to help him. I knew something was up!
We took a short break together and Stephanie shared some of her shot blocks with me. She guessed we were about 6 miles from the car at that point, but it ended up being more like 2. As soon as we hopped back on our bikes we reached the final stop sign and made our last turn to the car.
I *think* I did a total of 35 or 36 miles. Since the rest of the group went out a little farther then I did, there’s really no way of knowing.
After our ride, the group headed to the closest gas station for food.
Did I mention we were in the middle of nowhere? The $4.99 cuban special sounded just fine to us.
Not the best Cuban ever, but it got the job done.
I couldn’t believe it when we returned from our ride and it was already after 2:00! Time sure does fly when you’re having fun.
I’m so glad I didn’t chicken out and skip the ride because I was afraid I would be holding people back. My teammates are great and I should have known they would never do that. Now I can’t wait to ride with them again!