Riding with the VeloBrew crew   Leave a comment

VeloBrew is one of the local cycling clubs. I’ve kicked around the idea of tagging along on one of their rides for a while now…. But… being that I’m kinda shy and antisocial by nature I’ve always found an excuse to *not* ride with them… I know that riding with a challenging group is a sure way to improve my cycling so this week… I was once again going to try and coax myself into participating.

It helped that they were going to ride a route that I was familiar with… had not done in quite some time… and that I was anxious to do again.

The “B” ride was supposed to leave at 0715… towards that end I had gotten to the gathering point at 0645… I don’t think anyone else showed until just after 0700… in fact I was just before going home and doing a solo ride…

As anyone who has showed up cold for a club ride as an outsider can tell you… roadies don’t exactly rollout the red carpet… I introduced myself to a couple of folks who showed up.. no one was anxious to give me an overview of anything… or introduce me to anyone else… so I just stood around in the proximity and waited.

At about 0725 I asked someone if there was going to be an A and a B ride… He looked at his watch and said… hmmm it’s 0732… I guess there isn’t going to be a B ride today…

FORK! Now I have been lurking here… looking like a dork for 20 minutes… carbon fiber and fit looking roadies everywhere and now… no B ride…

Now I have no particular aversion to getting dropped… but… I have not ridden in a truly fast paceline in… well… a decade… I just don’t want to be a Fred… Much easier to avoid Fredness in the B group… It’s easier to ride than it is to pack my s3!t and leave so off we go.

There are about 30 riders in our group… we picked up a half dozen or so more in the first couple of miles… guys I guess who lived or parked a little further south… about 4 miles in we reached South Ponte Vedra Beach and most of the traffic/intersections were behind us and the boys at the front started whipping up the pace…

I stayed close to the back… not wanting to be in the way… but careful to hold my line and the wheel in front of me. We were up to 24 mph in no time and I was not really sure how long I might hang.

About 5 miles in we reached the 210 bridge over the Intracostal… a major hill for us flatlanders… I was poised and ready determined to not get dropped this quick…

I was quite surprised to find that the group splintered apart like it did… I found myself passing 6 or 8 people and covering a gap to get back with the group… they weren’t really nailing it tho… so I found myself safely tacked on the back at the top…

Of course we went screaming down the other side and hammered for a mile or so until one of the super fit looking dudes in full team kit turned around and started riding back… I figured out later that he went back to the 6-8 dropped riders to see if any of them wanted a tow back to the group… he came back with one guy.

We picked it back up to 24 or 25 once they got back. I still had no idea how long I could hang with these guys and was steadily moving up the paceline (still about 25 strong) to the front.

I made it to the front about the same time as we met a train headed the other way… no it was not coming directly at us but it was only about 35m away running parallel to the road. It basically generated a headwind where none had been before… I got the bit between my teeth tho and put in a respectable pull for 2:30 at 24… then a flick of the elbow and I drifted left and got a chance to watch the bunch go by…

Feeling pretty good at myself and beginning to gain confidence that I might yet finish with these fellas, I decided I needed a snack and a drink right quick while I was at the back again… I did and when I went to put mu bottle back in the cage I missed… aaaugh!!!! What a stupid Fred move.

I slammed on the brakes… and turned around to get my bottle. It was a nice Polar bottle or I might have just let it go.. Once I retrieved my bottle I got a good look at just how far ahead the group had gotten… I was still trying to recover from being on the front and now I was going to have to chase…

And chase I did… after about a minute I saw the tam kit dude headed my way… he offered me a tow… I hopped on and he pulled me at 26-27 for a mile or so until we caught up…

We stopped a few miles later and I thanked the “Dude” who pulled me back and generally tried to recover a bit and take on some calories… knowing that with my (lack of) handling skillz I’d probably do best to eat now… and just steer and pedal later.

After we left the store.. still 24 or so strong we were met with a nasty crosswind… and since we were on A1A… right along the beach we had no protection… the speed went back up to 24 anyway and in just a few miles I was already beginning to feel the effects of the effort… I’d been spinning along nicely most of the morning in the 39 but decided to shift to the 53… Remember this is only my 3rd ride on this bike… well.. I slipped my chain… I immediately pulled out of the line and waved everyone through…

The Fast dude came by me and told me to shift and pedal slowly… I wanted to tell him that I *knew that* but this being at least my 2nd major Fred move of the day I just said thanks…

I had fallen almost all the way to the back with my shenanigans and when I got my s#!t back together and got a chance to look up the road again… the group had split… and I was on the wrong side…. I was not sure whether or not my mechanical problem had been part of the cause… no matter… I moved up to the front of my little group… about 6-8 of us and hit the gas… I was hoping to pull the group back across the gap.. and in so doing perhaps I could redeem myself… if only a little

I was making progress back to the main group… thinking we were probably going to make it… then I looked over my shoulder and I was alone… halfway across the gap… and all by myself.

I sat up for a few seconds and thought about going back for them and trying again… I did the calculations in my head and surmised that If I waited for them… they (and me) would not make it back to the group… so I got back in the drops and just concentrated on making the gap smaller… it took a mile or so but I finally closed down the gap. When I got back on… the guy in last wheel asked me if there were any other back there. I said that there were and he and the Dude went back for them… 5 minutes later only the Dude returned.

Although I was back in the group I was pretty fried…. It was all that I could do to hold onto the wheel in front of me… I did take another pull… and another 6-8 riders dropped.

I knew that as soon as we got back to Ponte Vedra that we would slow down and soft pedal the last 3 miles… I was never so happy to see a stop sign as I was the first one in PVB…

For those guys… it was a group ride … in my Walter Mittyesque mind it was more like the Tour of Flanders… and I finished in the group of 12 out of the 36 we started with…

today… Thursday the soreness is finally beginning to leave my legs.

I can’t wait to do this again.

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Posted July 23, 2009 by cowartm in Uncategorized

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