I guess there are good days and then there are off-days. Due to work considerations combined with a poor attitude, I hadnít been on my bike for nearly a week. Yesterday afternoon I joined our Club for our weekly Thursday afternoon ride. We generally meet three times a week for rides. Tuesdayís are the ďhammerĒ days when everyone rides as fast as they can along a set 25 mile loop. Thursdays are usually more of a group ride at a more reasonable pace. Saturdays are longer, more endurance-type rides.
At any rate, yesterday I broke free of work and joined everyone for the ride. Apparently, the Tuesday ride got fouled up and several of the group decided they would do a ďhammer-festĒ. Always up for a challenge (as well as being a bit irrational), I decided to join them. In the back of my mind, I didnít feel prepared. I hadnít had much to eat all day, didnít bring any energy gel, and just didnít have that fired-up attitude. I should have listened to my body.
Within the first quarter-mile we were hitting 24 mph. I stayed within striking distance, just waiting for them to burn off a little of their energy. I wasnít really warmed up and I also knew that shortly we would be hitting a series of hills that would slow things down a bit. Sure enough, I rejoined the group halfway up the first hill. I stayed in for the next 7 miles or so hitting a wind assisted 27-28 mph. When we turned north, it was my turn to pull. Against a steady cross wind, I was doing a decent 22mph up a long grade. I was struggling as we topped the grade and I pulled over to rotate back to the back. (Out of consideration, I donít like to end my turn at the front at the base of a climb). By this time, Iím really digging deep and wishing I had brought some gel. It was at that point that the pace picked up and I got dropped.
Try as I might, I just couldnít close the gap. I did manage to keep them in sight for the next 4 miles or so, but eventually they were gone. The next time I saw them was in the parking lot for the post-ride for the post-mortem. Even with being dropped, I still managed a respectable 19 mph average. A year ago, I would have been delighted with that number, but somehow I felt disappointed in my performance. Donít get me wrong, I had a great time. I was tired, but I felt like the cobwebs had been cleared. I hadnít been dropped in quite awhile, but it was probably the best thing that could have happened. It re-lit that fire that makes you want to get back in the game. A little better pre-ride prep (as in food and attitude), as well as a bit more riding-time and Iíll be better than ever.
As they say, even an off-day on a bike is better that not riding at all.