I figured...ya know...second group ride ever, I might as well do the "A" ride. Wow...what a difference, I must say. I even traded pulls at the front....there were 10 of us, and when I didn't get spit off the back on a long climb (happened once), I was in the front half of the group.
Got dropped hardcore twice....first time, the first 5 guys just tempo'ed us off their wheels while getting ready for the town line sprint; I didn't realize what they were doing - I was sitting behind some tall dude for awhile, and looked around him and saw the front 5 guys about 200 yards up the road. They were moving right along, and there was no way I could bridge, as I had just earlier finished up a pull through a hilly section. Second time, I was leading the group, and the ride leader was debating which way to go....I thought he said turn right (so I did...which started going downhill) and the group went straight. Unfortunately, this was at the start of a brutal climb, I was in my big ring, and I had to catch back up (was about 150 yards behind). I caught within 40 feet or so of the front guys by the top, and just totally blew up....spent the next 5-10 minutes in between the front 6 guys, and the 3 guys a few hundred yards behind me trying to bridge between 23 and 38 mph (lots of rollers and downhills, with some short uphills). And trying to recover. That killed me.
Fortunately, I never ended up last, so I guess that was good. Since it was an early season ride, the really fast guys would stop at the next stop sign and re-group. The group is a pretty good group of guys though...they stick together and make sure everyone is accounted for at regroup sections.
I got in on the town-line sprints on the second to last one....I didn't really realize they were doing this, and the ride leader told me about it at that point....I think I got second on the first one (it was either second or third), and 4th on the second (last) one. Managed to hit 37 mph on the last sprint, but started too soon and ran out of gas a good 100 feet before the sign. Probably would've gotten second had I timed it better, but at that point of the ride, I couldn't really see straight so I just went for it when 2 other guys did. I'm not a very good sprinter, so I was pretty happy with my speed...and then watched the two hammerheads fly past me as I coasted.
I got in, and felt like I wanted to die. This was probably by far the most intense ride I've done to date that I can remember. We only did 35 miles (well, I did...I rode a couple miles to the shop rather than drive to get a little warm-up in first), and the average speed on my computer was 17.2 mph. Granted, the first 10+ minutes I didn't get above like 12-14 mph (easy spin to warm up), so the actual ride was probably closer to 18 or so. It was pretty damn hilly....so that kept the overall average below 20 mph, but on the flats we were anywhere between 21-27 mph. Like most people, I used to be "consumed" by average speeds...up until last fall. Now...it's a nice number to look at and all, but as was CLEARLY evident today....doesn't tell the whole picture. The ride was pretty damn hard. Unfortunately I took the "race" bike today, which doesn't have an altimeter on it....but I would say we climbed at least 2,500 feet (being conservative)...and anyone familiar with this area, that's a fairly brutal ride. That means lots of steep climbs.
Well....I guess I got initiated. I even got kudos for being the "new" guy and hanging in. It was brutal, and I spent a good 10 minutes sitting on the toilet after getting in the house trying to recover and not feel like I wanted to die. But...I was pretty proud that I was able to spend multiple times out front and pulling the group for a few minutes at a clip.
My first race is this Saturday. I hope I don't get dropped. It's a dead-flat crit course. I will do a fairly easy/moderate ride tomorrow, and probably take Friday off.
Can't wait 'till next Wednesday.