Saturday, November 3, 2012

Tipping Cows (and Cyclists). And Maybe I Need a Team.

Fun group ride today! This was the biggest group I've ridden with - we started with eighteen people, I think. A few people turned back along the way. There was one woman, very nice, who you just knew was not going to be able to keep up with the group. She had only had this particular bike a couple days, she was used to riding a big "cruiser" or "comfort" type bike (like my old bike, below). The new bike, sort of a hybrid road/comfort bike, made her nervous. She was wearing a HUGE backpack. It didn't bode well for her, I thought. She ended up turning back later in the ride, she was super upbeat about it, but we had all gotten to a park and waited for about fifteen minutes for her and the guy who was "sweeping" her, so I was glad she turned back. We were only twenty miles or so into what would be a 48+ mile ride, and you both didn't want to wait for her and didn't want her to feel badly about being waited for (which, if you may recall were my exact fears about starting group rides!).  I totally empathized with her, but she was sweet.

My original bike: the comfort bike. Do not try lifting: very heavy.
Today's ride was a blast and it brought me into a couple areas I have been eager to try: riding in Seattle (we went to Ivar's on Lake Union) and most especially, riding the south end of Lake Washington. Now I can expand my own "home" ride to include the south end of the lake, rather than just riding back and forth across the bridge because I don't know where else to go. My confidence is increasing: I'll be branching out more and more on my rides now that I know I'm a total biking badass and I can conquer the big hills and such. But these pieces of real estate I've picked up on the group rides: those are important for confidence building! If I weren't feeling so lazy, I'd give you a pictorial of the routes.

Here's how I first started riding on my own. It's an 18-mile out and back.

Here's my Wednesday night typical ride now. See how I added in circling the island? This is about 22 miles.

And here's today's route. See how we went both across the bridge, as I started out; then around the island, then around the south end of the lake? This experience gives me versatility in where I can ride by myself (because I am a self-acknowledged chicken). This was 48+ miles (it was the first time this group ride had been done, we went a few miles off course, haha.)

SO FUN!! Oh my goodness, do I ever love cycling. You know, it's a wonder why you ever stop these things. When I was a kid, I was so in love with my ten-speed, and I was zipping around our block like it was a velodrome. :) That is exactly how it makes me feel now, although I keep my hands on the handlebars, haha.

I think I need a team, though. Or, if I don't need one now, I will next spring. I really like riding a lot, and I want to ride fast and consistently. I want to get really good at group riding. These group rides, they'll let any schmo, like me, into them. You've got your slower-downers, like the girl who turned back today. You've got your weavers, like the guy on his first group ride who DID NOT want me in front of him but couldn't pedal a straight line to save his life.

And...the callouts. I am not experienced enough with cycling to know if the teams do this, but I suspect they do it much less. "HOLE!" "CAR BACK!" "RUNNER RIGHT!" "CAR RIGHT!" "CAR UP!" "LEAVES!" "GRATE!" "CRACKS!" "SLOWING!" "STOPPING!" "ROLLING!" "GLASS!" "BIKER UP!" "CAR PASSING!"

So noisy. Now, granted, I got 50 miles of it today with a big group. Up and down the line, everyone yelling. And granted, this was the second "mentorship" ride for a woman who wants to be a group leader, so shit was being done per the rules. And granted, there were a LOT of group leaders on this ride, so this is just what they're used to doing, perhaps (although my other group rides have not been like this).

Shhhhhhhhhhhh. It's supposed to be a peaceful sport.

I think if I had a team, I could learn to ride face, ride well, and be a good group rider with other skilled riders. And I think we could prioritize when we yell. For instance, on a 12-foot wide bike path, I do not care if another biker is heading toward me unless he is wielding a machete. At red lights, I expect to first SLOW and then STOP, followed intuitively by ROLLING at the green light.

But I had a stinking blast! :)

Also, this was the first time I rode with clipless pedals, e.g. my feet locked to the pedals. I was scared! But I did great, and it really does make the hills easier, as everyone had told me. It is a little claustrophobic. I'll get used to it. And I wouldn't really say that I fell, exactly, but cow-toppled. Twice, both at the top of very steep short hills. Both times, the (inexperienced) rider in front of me balked at the top. Nice buddy, I'm glad YOU made it up the monster hill but I am still behind you on said hill and you should get the FREAK OUT OF MY WAY. (topple)

A very slow-motion, low-impact fall.
Here is the group, they were wonderful:

And here's me with my new clipless pedals:

You've come a long way, baby.


  1. Love that you are loving biking so much!

  2. hehe... love the cow tipping analogy. :P And I would be so skeeeered to clip in. nuh uh. No way. You are bad ass!