This weekend, I attempted something I never thought I would be able to do: I rode 50 miles in one go. This ride was a bit different: It was my second group ride. That fact really made a difference.
To start, I got my bike fitted at Landry’s Boston. A new seat, stem, and handlebars made such a difference. I felt like my pedal strokes were translating to more distance, and I could feel myself going further with each stroke. I still had some tingling in my hands and feet, but seeing as my gloves haven’t been replaced in 10 years, I’m thinking that could be the issue.
Onto the ride itself: This was my second group ride, and I’m always super nervous I’m holding people back because I’m not fast enough. Seeing as my average for my last solo ride was about 11.3 mph, I think my fears were valid. After a rather fast warmup (that I really couldn’t keep up with), we broke up into a faster group, a fast group, then us. We were 3 people and a ride-leader from Quad Cycles.
It started with us thinking about a 20 mile ride from the store, then we extended it to a 30 mile ride including going up Strawberry Hill. The scenery was absolutely gorgeous, and completely worth the horrible hills.
I learned my mantra for hills is “head down and breath through the lactic acid,” as well as “this hill will end.” But seriously. The best way to dash my hopes on a hill is to look up and see how much longer I have to go.
My average speed for this ride was 15.4 mph. Despite a cramp in my left calf for the last 10 miles, I managed to ride a 50 mile loop averaging 4 mph faster than my previous 40 mile loop. I felt more powerful with people to support me, to stop at the top of a hill for a water break, and to chat with on the flat sections. I owe this increased speed to the people I rode with. They challenged me as I started to slack off in the last 20 miles, they helped me with strategy for the hills, and they gave me sugar as I started to cramp. A group ride really does make an incredible difference.
Next weekend is another group ride: “Blazing Saddles” with North Shore Cyclists. I’ll be attempting a metric century (100 km, 62.5 miles), which is exactly half of what I’ll be riding on September 19th. Stay tuned for the update from that ride next Monday!