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Old 06-08-10, 12:26 PM   #1
paulypro
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organized century ride this weekend ... person I'm going with is slooow...

Big organized ride this weekend.. Over a thousand entrants I believe... Course has options of different lengths, but the century route we intend to do consists of several decent hills.

Not that I'm that fast, but my riding partner is on the beginner side of intermediate: still fine-tuning shifting technique & general bike handling is not that polished. I'm extremely comfortable on the bike in all conditions & have been riding for over 20 years. This will be both of ours' first large organized ride.

In general our paces are on opposite ends of the 'average' spectrum. I tend to unintentionally drop her even on flat ground when I think I'm spinning easily. Hills? Forget about it. I usually end up cooling off completely if I wait at the tops of hills... Which I do anyway because I'm a gentleman...

As a clyde, I'm pretty slow up hills but I've found how to tackle 'em is by being real stingy about not giving up momentum. I use 'determination' to get over the hills. I can usually hang with the (other) fat and old roadies...

My riding partner doesn't have the same level of 'determination' to crest a hill & often will end up her lowest gear, even stopping midway to rest & stretch (I think?). Since I don't have a 3rd ring up front I usually just ride the hill at a 'gentler than I normally would' pace and wait at the top...

I'm a little concerned about how this is going to go. I could probably finish the ride in under 6 hours, maybe 5 with some pacelining, but I worry about this taking 8-9+ hours to complete, with me cooling off completely about 10 times at the tops of hills.

There's a part of me that wants to 'just go' and challenge myself among the groups of riders all around, but there's also the part of me that feels responsible to encouraging my friend along who's gonna be hurtin' for certain. I guess I worry that if I A) ride at her pace all day, or B) ride at my pace and wait at hilltops, that I will be TOASTED & struggle the last couple of hours after a very long day in the saddle.

I guess my question is something like "What's the etiquette in this type of situation?"

Do people normally leave slower riding companions behind under the assumption that the collective masses 'have them covered' or do the faster of us valiantly slow our pace to our riding companion & accept a full workday in the saddle? This is not a girlfriend or SO situation if that matters.... In fact, she's half looking to meet boys doing this type of thing, so leaving her behind could be more conducive to that...

Anyway... Opinions??
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Old 06-08-10, 03:55 PM   #2
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Have you talked to her about it? Have you asked her if she would like you to stick with her or if she would mind if you each rode at your own pace?
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Old 06-08-10, 05:59 PM   #3
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Another option: Borrow a fixed gear bike. That will level the playing field a bit.
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Old 06-08-10, 06:26 PM   #4
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What I do is ride next to them on the climbs and put my hand on their back and gently help them up the hills. You see this done in Europe on club rides a lot. It gives the stronger riders a work out and keeps the group together. It will make you a better climber and your friend as well. You'll also have a faster time and be able to stay together better. I do this on brevets occasionally to help out riders struggling at the back. I also used this technique to help my 9yr old son, his friend and family on RAGBRAI (I should have charged). The only thing you, and your friend, have to be able to do is ride in a straight line. If either of you start weaving you may touch wheels and if that happens, you'll end up on your head. It helps to practice a little before the ride if you're uncomfortable with your riding skills.
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Old 06-08-10, 06:52 PM   #5
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Your choices are to fully accept riding her pace with a smile on your face the entire time, or telling her you are going to ride your own ride. You can certainly be diplomatic about this, but don't make it a question, make it a statement. She's a grown up, right?

What you should not do is ride with her and be irritated about it, because she will know and it will ruin the day for both of you.

Since you are asking this at all, I would opt for separating.

I rode a 10 hour century with my really slow friend, her first century. I stayed with her the whole time, because she is my best friend. I did the whole event for her. If I had wanted something out of it for myself, other than seeing my friend meet her goal, I would not have stayed with her. Since I knew the event was going to be easy for me, and there was no weather related reason to hurry up and finish, I just rode slow the whole time, it was fine - I was a little sunburned by the end, but that was the only damage from being out there so long.

I guess you could say you were starting with her but you will probably go faster later, but please please do not say "it's too hard for me to ride this slow" - that will just make her feel bad.
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Old 06-08-10, 08:05 PM   #6
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it is good karma to let her set the pace.
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Old 06-08-10, 08:07 PM   #7
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Here are some things to try

1. Don't go ahead. It's a trap. Don't do this.
2. I tend to sprint up the hills so I'm winded enough to not mind the wait
3. I'm always in the wind
4. Pushing them up hills is a fun technique building exercise if your riding partner doesn't mind
5. Ride up the hills inefficiently. You can work your way up the hills in a bigger gear with a lower cadence
6. Work on cadence drills on the flat ground. I try to hold 120RM for a few minutes.
7. Ride a mountain bike with big tires
8. The A riders who lead the C group rides will sometimes ride with loaded panniers.
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Old 06-08-10, 10:33 PM   #8
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Sounds like this is just another ride for you but will be a big deal for her. Personally, I think it would be more rewarding to be a part of her first century and be there when she crosses the finish line (she could probably use a little encouragement along the way) than just riding a little faster. There will be plenty of other long rides to do after this one.
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Old 06-08-10, 10:41 PM   #9
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On a 100-mile century with a 1,000 entrants, riding 8-9 hours or more will leave her riding a lot by herself- people get real scattered out at the tail end.

All the athletic boys will be at the front, where she's not, and all the fat old men will be where she is. So not a good boy-looking spot, really.

I'd consider what makes her a "riding partner". From the description, I'd say just ride her speed, don't run ahead, and stick with her. But that's kind of hard to judge from the outside.

I've ridden with people faster than me. If they want to ride my speed, great, I enjoy the company . If they want to head on, that's fine too, I don't mind riding by myself. But can't say if that's the case for everyone. I wouldn't mind slowing down a little to ride with someone else. I wouldn't mind slowing down a lot for a special occasion, but wouldn't want to do it all the time.

Any possiblity of renting a tandem?
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Old 06-09-10, 01:59 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Homeyba View Post
What I do is ride next to them on the climbs and put my hand on their back and gently help them up the hills. You see this done in Europe on club rides a lot. It gives the stronger riders a work out and keeps the group together. It will make you a better climber and your friend as well. You'll also have a faster time and be able to stay together better. I do this on brevets occasionally to help out riders struggling at the back. I also used this technique to help my 9yr old son, his friend and family on RAGBRAI (I should have charged). The only thing you, and your friend, have to be able to do is ride in a straight line. If either of you start weaving you may touch wheels and if that happens, you'll end up on your head. It helps to practice a little before the ride if you're uncomfortable with your riding skills.
I have to say, as a tentative hill-climber, I would not like this at all.

I'm not comfortable with climbing hills. It is not something I'm good at (yet). And when I climb hills, I don't want anyone anywhere near me.

-- I want to be able to stop and rest or stop and walk at a moments notice. Quite often I'll be pedalling along thinking, I'm doing OK here, and then all of a sudden, in a split second, I'm not doing OK, and I feel compelled to get off and walk.

-- I want to be able to wobble, because when you're doing something between 4.5 and 6 km/h, there's a lot of wobbling going on. Riding in a straight line is very difficult at that speed. If I have someone riding right beside me, I don't feel free to wobble, and I tense up, and when I tense up climbing becomes that much more difficult, breathing becomes that much more difficult, and all of a sudden I may be compelled to stop and get off and walk.

-- I want to be alone with my thoughts, I don't want to run the risk of having to reply to someone. I'm struggling enough to breathe, I don't want to talk as well ... or even to think about a response. I need to focus.

Just some things to keep in mind when riding with hesitant and tentative hill climbers.
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Old 06-09-10, 04:28 AM   #11
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Would this century ride happen to be Flying Wheels?
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Old 06-09-10, 06:31 AM   #12
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so she's your "riding" partner, not your "partner". then drop her like a lead balloon. heck, YOU might meet someone! perhaps someone who can be a riding partner AND a partner! you might both make out in spades
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Old 06-09-10, 08:38 AM   #13
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I'm a little concerned about how this is going to go. I could probably finish the ride in under 6 hours, maybe 5 with some pacelining, but I worry about this taking 8-9+ hours to complete, with me cooling off completely about 10 times at the tops of hills . . . guess I worry that if I A) ride at her pace all day, or B) ride at my pace and wait at hilltops, that I will be TOASTED & struggle the last couple of hours after a very long day in the saddle.
.
If you are truly fit and experienced enough to do this century in 5 or 6 hours, you won't suffer any damage by taking 8 or even 9 hours to do it. You just won't get as much of a workout, comparatively, as she will.

I have some friends who are bona fide monsters on bikes. Compared to them, I'm a 6-year-old on a tricycle. They slow down for me when I ride with them, and none of them has ever been remotely close to "toast" as a result.

I'll echo two other posters: (1) Talk to her, and see what her expectations are. (2) If you decide to ride with her, go into it with a smiling face, and keep it that way all day.
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Old 06-09-10, 10:27 AM   #14
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Wow! Thank you all for your feedback! It's pretty amazing to get such quality replies from total strangers!! (I guess I've been poking around the Singlespeed/Fixed forum too much where quality replies are all too rare!)

Aye, this is the Flying Wheels century ... Several 'good' hills and a bunch of littler hills... I guess about 4000 gain feet for the day?

I have a fixed gear that I commute on.. I thought about it, but I don't think I'd be able to do the ride fixed due to the hills. If it were a flat century I'd likely go for it. I just don't think I'm quite there yet fitness wise... I'd probably be walking it up some of the steeper hills.

I'd also considered the whole 'push em up the hill' idea, but again her handling skill & confidence would likely make this a stressful experience for her as Machka described. She's not quite riding a super straight line yet. I also think she wants to 'earn' her way to the finish, so this would be cheating kinda.

I think that her expectation is that I will be there for needed encouragement over some of the hills along the course. I don't really have any expectations for myself aside from finishing the event, so I do think I'm going to try to ride it at her pace & give her the support I think she's gonna need. A tandem would have been sweet if we'd planned a little better!

Valygrl, your post spoke to me in particular. This event is all about her meeting a goal of her's and I am tagging along for support with no real expectation for myself. She's not my best friend by any measure, but I do want to help see her reach her goal. I'll be sure to pack extra sunscreen along!

See ya on the road!
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Old 06-09-10, 10:39 AM   #15
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re: "I am tagging along for support with no real expectation for myself"

then I rescind my earlier suggestion ...
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Old 06-09-10, 01:22 PM   #16
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Hi,
have you thought about a tandem? It works for me and the woman I love. There are ways to slow your self down a little: Fixed gear and Single gear comes to mind (you can simulate the latter without any changes to your bike). As one who is often left in the dust I much appreciate when people wait for me but have not yet felt offended when they decide to push on. I try to be happy for the time we have together..........

Cheers
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Old 06-09-10, 07:18 PM   #17
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I have to say, as a tentative hill-climber, I would not like this at all...
Just some things to keep in mind when riding with hesitant and tentative hill climbers.
The wobbling shouldn't be an issue because instead of going 4.5-6kms/hr you'll be going more like 10+kms/hr! I would guess your (most people who don't want to be helped like that) objections are more along the lines of "how embarrassing" more than anything. That's understandable. It's interesting that you don't see this a lot in N. America and people who ride alone a lot may be more uncomfortable with it because they are not used to riding in groups to begin with but it is very beneficial for both the strong and weaker rider. I've done a number of club rides in Europe, some with Pro level guys and it's much more common over there and it's not a big deal even for a Pro to be "helped" up a hill in the interest of keeping the group together. It's not as bad as you think Machka. Believe it or not, I've been on the receiving end myself. It got me though a bad time on a climb and kept me with the group.
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Old 06-09-10, 07:47 PM   #18
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Since I've been playing at this three speed nonsense I've discovered a whole other world of bicycling. Intentionally putting yourself on a "slow" bicycle can be extremely rewarding. It does require a completely different mindset. I spend my winters mountaineering and find the "three speed" mindset is much closer to that than to the typical bicycling mindset: I'm not there to go as fast as possible, or even worry about speed/time at all. I'm there to enjoy being there. Whether you are forced into going slow by your choice of riding companion or by your equipment, if you can relax and forget about all those people passing you, you may find the experience absolutely delightful.
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Old 06-09-10, 08:56 PM   #19
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The wobbling shouldn't be an issue because instead of going 4.5-6kms/hr you'll be going more like 10+kms/hr! I would guess your (most people who don't want to be helped like that) objections are more along the lines of "how embarrassing" more than anything. That's understandable. It's interesting that you don't see this a lot in N. America and people who ride alone a lot may be more uncomfortable with it because they are not used to riding in groups to begin with but it is very beneficial for both the strong and weaker rider. I've done a number of club rides in Europe, some with Pro level guys and it's much more common over there and it's not a big deal even for a Pro to be "helped" up a hill in the interest of keeping the group together. It's not as bad as you think Machka. Believe it or not, I've been on the receiving end myself. It got me though a bad time on a climb and kept me with the group.
It's not an embarassment thing ... I just don't like to be touched when I ride. I feel out of control if another rider so much as lays a finger anywhere on me or my bicycle. Whether it is the case or not, I feel like I'm giving over control to another cyclist and that I can no longer do what I want to do out there. I have had previous cycling partners suddenly grab my handlebars or saddle and scare me half to death, which has only made matters worse.

And for whatever reason I really tense up when a cyclist rides right behind me or right beside me when I'm climbing a hill ... which makes climbing that much more miserable than it already is. I need my space!! I do have a very large personal space bubble in general, but when I'm climbing a hill, or doing any task which I find challenging, my personal space bubble doubles or triples in size.

I'm like that when I'm working on something complicated on the computer ... I hate it when someone hovers over my shoulder and watches me in action. For me, that's the same as having someone cycling close by on a climb.
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Old 06-09-10, 10:42 PM   #20
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There 's nothing wrong with needing your personal space Machka. If you're not comfortable with something you certainly shouldn't do it. Someone grabbing my handlebars would make me very nervous too. That is likely to lead to a crash!
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Old 06-10-10, 07:33 AM   #21
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This sounds like you are asking a simple question. Do I ride for my friend or myself? Either way may be correct for you, you just need to think about what your goals are.
Do you want to fast fun ride you enjoy? Is riding with your friend important to you, or perhaps I should ask, is making your friend happy by riding with her important?
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Old 06-10-10, 11:18 AM   #22
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" I worry about this taking 8-9+ hours to complete, with me cooling off completely about 10 times at the tops of hills."

OP, what's to worry about? ;-) You're cool at the start of the ride and that certainly doesn't degrade the rest of your performance. If you don't want to cool off, ride back to your friend, adding some easy miles to the adventure, while keeping her company for at least part of the time.

As for taking a few hours longer to complete a century, why rush through such a fantastic ride in five hours? Why rush through the pageantry, the color, camaraderie, the drama of 100 miles? When I pass a century's finish line, I'm always a little sad the ride is over, as well as elated at my accomplishment.
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Old 06-10-10, 12:37 PM   #23
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My suggestions largely echo the ones already listed, but here goes...

1) Talk to your ride partner, make sure she understands the situation, that you will probably just go ahead and climb hills etc.
2) Taking it slower is going to be a lot easier on your system than going too fast for your pace. So, just take it easy and enjoy the scenery.
3) I'd also get a "bento box" or a cell phone holder and put your phone in an easily reachable spot. That way, if your partner gets completely left in the dust, she can contact you.
4) Just man up and pull her the whole way.
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Old 06-10-10, 06:03 PM   #24
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Some really good replies above. I'll add:

1) Climb the hills twice. Kind of a middle-ground approach. Rather than wait for her at the top, descend and then re-climb the hill at your own pace. I wouldn't do this unless she was totally cool with it, lest she think you were showing off. If you're both on the same page, and you do it right, though, you reach the top together and you both get a good workout in. (Do not ever make her wait on you!) Mrs. Octopus and I did this on a number of centuries before we got a tandem.

2) Ride the fixed-gear. If you're experienced on it and talking about a 5-hour century on a geared bike, then you'll be fine. Put on something in the mid- to low-70 gear inch range and go have fun. Be prepared for her to drop you on the descents, though!

3) Ride something else less than efficient. Take out the cyclocross or mountain bike.

4) Climb at her pace and chalk it up to a good workout at a low cadence. Practice bike handling skills while climbing at 4mph or less in a huge gear. It'll be good practice for when you do start doing these things fixed.
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Old 06-10-10, 07:50 PM   #25
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I registered for the FW100 yesterday afternoon and my number is somewhere around 2650, so with walkups on a perfect (74 degrees/sun) day, the number of riders will top 3000.

Sounds like your partner will be walking up some of the hills; let her know that she won't be the only one doing that, but it is important to try to stay to the right as she stops to dismount.

If worst comes to worst, there are several times you can cut the ride short, and return via Redmond-Fall City Rd./SR202.

Good luck, you both might be pleasantly surprised at what she can do.
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