Well, it was about time I got grounded in true reality. Yes I have come pretty darn far from when I started in July last year. I have gotten better at miles, average speeds on the flats, better at hills, and lost a little weight. Commute to work now 3-4 times a week on my mountain bike commuter, thinking of squeezing in a short tour this year and ride a few more organized rides.
So with that said, I decided to fit my big head through the door this morning and make it to a group ride with BCP. Cold and wind didnt stop me. Dont really care about those things.
I have been eyeing this ride for about two or three months now:
"Sun February 26, 2012 - Valley Forge Winter Ride - Sunday Edition.
Level B, 14 mph, 35 miles. Meet at Valley Forge National Park - Betzwood Picnic Area (by bathrooms). The ride leaves at 9:00 am. Every Sunday thru March for a ride from Valley Forge to Harleysville. Indoor coffee break at the Hennings Market in Harleysville. Plan is to be back in VF by noon.
Leader: (personal information removed by moderator)
Dont know Richard at all. Talked with him a few times. I was thinking I could do 35 miles and perhaps keep an average of 14 mph. I know he gives cue sheets so that was good for me just in case. I have not been out to Valley Forge since August and forgot a lot about it.
I know I was in trouble when I was about to the meeting place. All the hills in every direction. Getting a little nervous and having second thoughts but what the heck. Its a nice day out.
Got to the meeting place and met the four other guys who were getting ready. All were skinny, fit, expensive bikes, knew each other well, etc. The ride leader quickly briefed us and said it was going to be some good climbing. I think I crapped my pants a couple of times right then. I told him and the rest that I am slow and not to wait up for me since I had the cue sheet.
Off we went. On the flat we were pushing 19-22 mph and that was tough for me to keep up. The first hill and the rest after that I could hardly see them. Richard, the ride leader hung back and waited for me but I could not keep the average at all so I told him to go on. We lost someone a few miles back. He turned around because his hands were freezing (it was cold and windy). Luckily I had the cue sheet to get back.
I learned a few things:
1- Yes I have gotten better
2- I still suck
3- I need to work on hills more.
4- Please read number 3
5- Please read number 2 and then 3 and then 4.
It was a great reality check for many reasons. I walked away feeling defeated but as I was sitting in my truck, I thought about what I learned and I came away with a few things to continue to work on.
Also realized that perhaps I will never fit into the main stream club style cycling groups. I have been "fighting" this feeling for a while. As I have talked with many of my friends who I have cycled with since I started, the always saw that group rides are ok but smaller friend and solo rides are better. I never understood those comments until today. Don't misunderstand me. Today was not a negative day and I am not being negative, I am being realistic and it was a gut check for me. Sometimes knowing how far you have come and what you have to work on is the byproduct of challenge which might result in failure. I couldn't keep up but thats ok. I learned a lot.
Thanks for listening!