Please bear with me as this may get long!
First the background: In the end of March 2011 I upgraded my cell phone to a fancy smart phone. At that time I was riding a Schwinn hybrid about 3 miles a time several days a week. Right after getting the smart phone I found RunKeeper app and started tracking my rides, a feature of the app was it posted to Facebook. Over time that alone resulted in motivation not only the part about feeling accountable to my friends but also the support that I received from them. My distance did not really increase until July last year when I rode what at the time was what I thought was long. From then on my mileage increased dramatically. I started commuting nearly daily and taking longer rides home after work. I kept riding going into last winter and even purchased a trainer. Early December a friend made me adeal that included me building him a custom kitchen that netted me a new road bike, him getting a better part of the deal.
By December I was well known by name at the LBS due to needing parts and occasional service on my Schwinn. They helped me choose a road bike and of course made sure it fitted me properly. Then sometime in February I went to my first Thursday night spin class at the LBS. It was a great workout as well as fun. Then I went to another and another and....... Soon the weather was good einough that we started riding outside rather than the spin class. I was making friends slowly but none the less. After a couple of months of group rides I tagged along with the faster group, which any more it seems is all there is and sure enough they dropped me. However they also waited several times to regroup and not a whisper of complaint did I hear about that. Since then I now go to both week night group rides and ride with the fast group, but there has not been a choice. I still get dropped only to catch back up at a re-group but I also spend my time occasionally in the front. Enough of the background if you are still with me I'll give the ride report now.
The plan was to meet at the LBS and drive to Leavenworth for a ride to Lake Wenatchee up the Chumstick highway. One of the other regulars from the group rides sent me texts on Friday with the final plans and confirmations but also the news that I'd probabaly have to drive myself if I was going so I pondered going or not. I finally made up my mind Saturday morning. The meet time was 9 AM but I also that morning needed to stop by my clinic and see the vampires for a fasting bloodwork. So I quickly load the bike, a change of clothes, gels, water, deoderant, towel, helmet and gloves. Go get my blood drawn then head to Starbucks for a cup, saw another rider that was going and let him know I was a bit behind. Promptly burn the roof of my mouth because the coffee is too hot. Then off to jack in the box for a breakfast sandwich and have to wait in line for 20 minutes or more in the drive thru; not doing that agian! Across the street to gas up then finally off to the LBS. A quick conversation and one of the LBS emplooyees is also going but has to stop by his house first. We all agree to meet at a Safeway in Leavenworth. I leave town, driving like I'm in hurry but I really was not. I get about 7 miles out of town and realize that I forgot my riding shoes. I turn around calling my wife to have my daughter meet me at the gate with my shoes, another water bottle and something else that I do not remember what it was. I get back on the road, now I was in a hurry, darn it. Ten or so minutes later I get a text from a rider that went up the night before with her husband with the meet-up info for there. I pull over and reply along with I was running later than those in front of me. I quickly but also safely made the trip to Leavenworth. Once I arrived the husband and wife that went up the night before had already started, turns out it was his first ride on a road bike. I get ready and we soon leave. There were also two other guys and a lady riding. Of them Jordon, works at the LBS a few years ago was trainging with Apollo Ono until he was injured is a fast rider. Ken also a fast rider has years racing experience, and also Carrie, a fst rider that has done tri's and CX. And there was me, a clyde with lots of miles behind me but still a clyde and not exactly fast by any means.
We leave Leavenworth at a pace near 15 mph. The first 12 or so miles is all uphill. It starts out at about 1-1.5% for about 8-9 miles then steepens to about 2.5%, then the last mile is much steeper above 4%, I think. I stayed with them until the grade steepened the first time. We re-grouped right before the grade became steep, where we met up with the other two riders, Julie, a faster rider and her husband Darren who until this ride had never been on a road bike, but otherwise he is in good physical condition. I Julie and Darren take off because we are all much slower at hills than the other three and me being a bit faster and stronger than Julie and Darren I soon drop them. That's right fellow clydes and athenas I drop other riders on a climb! Soon I get freight-trained by the faster three. Once agin we re-grouped on the other side of the climb after a great descent of over 6% with some hairpins; what fun that was! After a re-group I once again stayed on until the next small climb where I was dropped. Leading to yet another re-group. Somewhere in here I jumped out front and did my first pull on this ride, oh and by the way we had also picked up the pace due to it not exactly being uphill any more. We came to a good descent and I led that as well until Jordon drops me. Then there is an upgrade of about a half mile at about 3% IIRC followed by another regroup where we wait for Julie and Darren. We all go the last couple or so miles to Lake Wenatchee State Park.
Due to high temps, lower 90's the cmap ground at the park was full as was the day use areas but we still stopped. There is a small c-store at the park where we purchased beverages and they all purchased food. I finished a Cliff bar and bought some water, cold water! Right after which someone pointed out the drinking fountain, oh well. Due to the crowded beach we choose to instead stop at a creek on our way out of the park and wade, splash, or dunk there for a bit. After about 30 minutes or so we got back on the bikes and headed out. I was once again in the lead. We would take a straighter and mostly level, or nearly so route back to Plain ( a little village at the base of the only real climb we went over on the way up.) We picked up the pace to about 20 mph, yup with me leading for a ways. then rotating out and finally getting dropped once again. Once again we re-grouped before the steep climb. I was quickly dropped going up but I was still in front of Julie and Darren but they caught me when I stopped to suck down a gel and drink some water. There was a hair pin 100 yards farther up the hill where Darren had to stop; what a trooper he was on his first ride! After the big turn Jordon was coming back down the hill to check on us other three. He cheered me on and then cheered me on again as he passed me again right near the top where we did our last re-group as it turned out. After the re-group we started back down towards Leavenworth. The descent was not real technical altough there was a good curve at the bottom. I was dropped going down but soon passed Carrie. After the stteepest aprt we regrouped and formed a paceline riding in the high 20's. We kept that up taking turns pulling all the way to Leavenworth. At one point my turn the road not only flattlened but then started to slightly climb and I gave what I could and then rotated to the back. With about one mile to go I finally ran out of steam, not exactly a bonk just had given all I could and dropped off. In total we rode 45.28 miles. I'll link to the garmin data later but since I forgot to hit resume several times the numbers are slightly off.
Lessons that others can learn from this are several. Rule 10: It never gets easier but you do go faster! Lots of miles and lots of Rule 5: HTFU has got me to where I am. It is possible for Clydes to find riding partners that although are much faster and stronger will wait for them. Given the right conditions and conditioning Clydes can maintain speeds well in excess of 20mph in a paceline and can even take turns leading same! I still get dropped but I also now sometimes drop others. Thanks for hanging with me through this long post hope you enjoyed the read. Sorry but I did not take any picson this trip but I did have a great time!