Dropped, on a no-drop ride

Yes, you read that correctly.

There is a local bike shop (not my usual LBS, but still a pretty good one) that has Tuesday and Thursday morning rides. When I asked about it, I found out that it’s just women. I thought that would be good, since men tend to ride faster than women, and especially faster than I do. I also asked about their normal pace, and was told around 15-17 mph, after an easy warmup on the bike trail. My recent rides have been in the 15-16 mph range, but my speed is not very consistent. I was afraid of holding up the group, and was told that it’s a no-drop ride:  if you can’t stay with the group, someone will wait at turns to make sure you’re going the right way.

I didn’t make the connection that “if you can’t stay with the group” is essentially being dropped. It’s not intentional dropping, but the pace is determined by a few riders, not the group as a whole. I had never done a ride like that before: pace has always been mutually agreed upon in my groups of friends.

There’s the key… I almost always ride with friends. In large group rides, I have always found similar riders that are willing to buddy up for the ride. I enjoy riding with others, but today was a different experience. I was up early anyway, so decided to give it a try.

I was a bit concerned that this would be a group of women who don’t have to work because they have husbands with high-paying jobs… confirmed by the Cervelo and custom Madones…

I was concerned that this would be a group in which the women were friendly with each other, but new riders would have a hard time getting into the clique…confirmed

I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to keep up….confirmed

When I got to the shop, a couple of women said hi to me, but they weren’t overly friendly as a group. Uh oh, I knew that was a bad sign. One of the women hadn’t been riding much, and she was actually friendly, so we talked while we started “slow and easy.”

Right.

My definition of slow and easy = about 13 mph, spinning at a high cadence but low gear, just to warm up my legs. A couple of miles of this, and I can increase speed and gearing, and end up at the proposed 15-17 mph. I’m not fast, just half-fast 😀

Their definition of slow and easy = ack! The one time I glanced at my bike computer during the first mile or so, we were doing 16.5 mph. Other than that one time, I couldn’t look, because I was concentrating too hard on trying to keep up. As Suzanne asked me later, “In what Universe is 17 mph slow and easy?”

I was off the back of the group immediately, as there were four women riding in a group at the front, pretty much ignoring that there was anyone behind them. I held with the woman who hadn’t been riding much until we got to a hill, then I fell behind. I have noted before that I don’t do well on morning rides, and today was no different. By the time I had gone just shy of three miles, the group was out of sight. At that point, I realized that the ride was not going to get better. I quit. I turned around and headed back, but I wasn’t upset about it. If nothing else, I have learned my limits this year: I can push myself, but only so far.

They didn’t intentionally leave me behind, they are just faster, more competitive riders than I am. It was a good learning experience for me, and makes me appreciate my regular biking buddies more than ever. I still have hopes of one day actually being “athletic,” but that time is not now. Not yet.

It will come.

 

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