Yesterday, having to stay in town for the holiday weekend, I needed some different riding pals since I just did not feel like doing a 3 hour ride on my lonesome yesterday and many of my training friends were out of town. I heard about a 67 mile ride to Lake Anna and back with a large group and some of my tri pals I had cycled with over the winter. There were around 15 of us and it was a mix of road cyclists and triathletes but mostly road bikes in a very welcoming "no drop" atmosphere. The mix made for an interesting environment and at times I was honestly a little concerned about communication in the group, or about riders staying too close to the yellow line, but mainly all these different types of athletes coming together was great. People were open to communicating during the ride, respectful of each other and really it was a great opportunity for everyone to learn to become better riders because of the diversity. I enjoyed watching that happen as people worked together on the ride. I loved it. I had to ride upright since most everyone had a road bike... unless I was closing a big gap or pulling on the lead, then I went in aero. Our route was rolling terrain on a hot day with a mix of sun and shade. I met a ton of really cool people and talking to some of these road cyclists about their racing and experiences really gave me some new perspective about the sport and all the opportunities to enjoy endurance sport. There were some really tough athletes on this ride and some inspiring endurance sports stories as well which I always like to hear.
After ironman, I could work on my cycling and maybe do more cycling specific events. I'm definitely going to dust off my road bike now, especially since I want to use her for Gran Fondo Garrett County in June anyway. I noticed on this ride that I'm really more of a steady state rider currently (typical triathlete) and all their hammering up the hills, cruising the descents and constant surges was tough for me to go back to, but it definitely kept me on my toes. My favorite part was this one road racer teaching me and another triathlete to take 30 second strong pulls to close a very big gap on two triathletes who had "broken" away and were sailing in their aerobars. We had so much fun chasing them down and working together made it so much easier to catch those guys. We all had to wait quite a while at the next intersection for the others to catch up.
I've never thought about the "strategy" piece of bike racing since I've never had a true interest in racing in my formerly weakest link... but this was really cool to learn about. I found out all sorts of tricks from these bike racer types. They were saying a lot of it is working with the group, responding to others moves, having good luck and well timed surges along with who is strongest. That part was really interesting. The chance for a wreck though, is too great for me to try it now. Sometimes lead riders cause wrecks by hammering fast then quickly reducing speed from what I've been told which kind of scares me. I also almost got talked into attempting a mountain bike race, today, but quickly realized I am not ready and its not worth the risk.
Also, on another topic... I always lean my leg against my bike by accident when I'm tired at a stop sign and they were calling it a "Cat 4" tattoo and teasing me. These means Category 4 which is beginner women's road racing. This was my category when I did that time trial. I get this mark on every ride... but now that I know it makes me look like a newbie to these roadies I'll TRY to keep my leg clean of grease. We'll see how that goes.
The best part was the recovery lunch with ice cold Beer. My Sam Summer never tasted so good. Oh, we earned those beers.