I normally post in Foo, so I'll put this here.
South Bay Fun Ride
Oh, where do I start? The ride started off with 30 or so people--my biggest group ride yet, other than the Corporate Cycling Challenge with its literally thousands of riders. Everybody today was so friendly and welcoming, probably more so than they are in Omaha.
We started off on a bike path that went along the ocean (gorgeous... don't see much of that in Omaha
). We regrouped at a restroom, and I decided I should probably use it. As I was crossing the bike path, I didn't even think to look to make sure nobody was coming. We just don't have these heavily-trafficked paths in Omaha. So I didn't see a cyclist coming at me until he was practically on top of me. Oops.
I saw some hand signals I've never seen. Like the one for slowing/stopping is to put your hand on your back. In Omaha, they normally put their hand to the side and kinda motion front to back. Weird.
At the end of the bike path trip, we went up an incline, and I stood in the saddle for the whole thing (okay, so it was only like a block long, but still
). I'm the kind of rider that normally just powers up a hill in the saddle, so I was oddly proud that I stood up for so long. After that, we rode up a fairly steep hill, maybe a half a mile long... or longer... not sure. I thought that was the beginning of the climbing. Hahaha... not even close. Anyway, I felt I was doing really well so far.
We went a little farther on the road. I still can't get over how many cyclists there are. In Omaha, it's like, "Hey look! A cyclist!" Pretty rare to see one on the roads, and our "bike paths" (I use that term very loosely) are just the shoulders of the roads, which aren't kept clean like the ones here. So, again, we started up a climb, and I thought once again that this was the beginning of the climbing. Still not even close. Dammit. I was having fun though!
We regrouped at the top of that hill, and went through some really nice neighborhoods. We stopped at the 7-11 and I choked down a banana and some Gatorade. Luwin1026 had a blue slurpee and turned his tongue blue. Yes, I made fun of him. I can't help it. Hope I didn't embarrass him.
Now it was on to the real climbing. About five miles of rollers, including some sketchy roads with jarring bumps. And lots of traffic, but at least they're accustomed to seeing cyclists on the road. Most people were pretty forgiving, and let us blow through stop signs. In Omaha, you're lucky if they give you a second thought... actually, most people speed up to stop signs to try to beat you so they don't have to wait.
So after the rollers came the PV climb. I don't know the stats for sure, but if I remember right, it's about 5-8% for 2 or 3 miles. Jason and a few others chased after some other riders at the beginning of the climb, and I rode with ME for the majority of it--thanks, Mary! She’s an awesome person to ride with. Every word that comes out of her mouth is positive and encouraging. We rode up PV at around 7-8 MPH. After getting up part of the PV climb, we regrouped at the start of Ganado Rd. At that point, I was pretty tired from the longest climb I’d ever done, so I immediately said "HELL NO" or something for the Ganado climb.
April: I'm out for Ganado.
Jason: Well, we can just ride to the bottom of the hill so you can at least see it.
Mary: And you know, you can always just try it out and see, and if you can't make it, no big deal.
April: (Hashing it out through her brain.) So, what if I can't make it? Do I turn around and come back?
Everybody: (As everybody looks around at each other.) Hm... [encouraging, huh?]
April: Well, I'll just try it and see.
So, we rode down Ganado, turned a corner, and I nearly fell off my bike after seeing what was in store. I think my exact words were, "Oh good God." I followed Mary's technique in tacking, and it actually helped quite a bit, but I was still struggling like crazy. Thanks to Jason's bike and the magic fairy dust he must have sprinkled on it, I made it up. And damn was I proud!
After picture taking, we went up the rest of Ganado, including a part that got even steeper. Finally made it to the top (woohoo!)... but we still had MORE climbing to do!!! Not much more, and Ganado made the rest of the climbing pale in comparison, but my legs were pretty shot by that time. A little more climbing, and we made it to the top.
Of course after an hour or whatever of climbing, the descent took about 2.3 seconds. The cornering got a little tricky, and I actually had to watch the posted speed limit signs to make sure I slowed down enough around the turns. Can't say that's ever happened in Omaha. I was starting to get pretty tired by this time, especially since I was having issues relaxing in the descent. We stopped at a Starbucks/Subway, and I choked down some peanuts and a cookie. I just can’t eat during a ride--I feel like I'm going to puke!
The rest of the ride (from what I can remember) was pretty uneventful. We rode what I consider to be a relatively busy road. Lots of stop signs/stop lights, which was probably good for me considering I was really starting to run out of energy. We got back on the bike path for a few more miles, and finally back to the cars!
All in all, this was probably the most fun I've had on a group ride. It'll be hard to go back to Omaha, but hopefully this will give me a little more of an edge and not get dropped so often on the hills. Hopefully.
Thanks to Joy (Happytime) for organizing this ride. And thanks to ME and Jason for riding with me, and everybody else for showing up!!!