Home > Mailing In a Post > Some days you get the bear…

Some days you get the bear…

GRCC

Last night’s ride sucked!

I should qualify that statement a bit.  1) I’m really glad I went.  2) I have several takeaways to make future rides better.  3) I’m then gonna chalk this one up to a crappy ride and a good story, and close the book on it.  No discouragement.  Some days you get the bear, some days the bear gets you.

Last night I had my second ride with the Grand River Cycling Club.  Monday nights are a routine 43km easy ride (or recovery ride).  Looking back at my race log my 40km bike split is often in the 1:25:00 to 1:35:00 range.  Last night 43km took me 2:03:00!!!  The previous and first ride I did with the club was just over 2 weeks ago, the Sunday morning “touring pace” long ride, which we did 73km that day.  That ride went reasonably fine.  Yesterday went terrible.

Let’s pause there for a second: 73km touring pace went fine, 43km easy pace was a disaster.  What the hell happened?!?

I knew this was going to be tough for an “easy ride” right from the parking lot – a chilly 5°C – where every other rider had riding tights, shoe covers, and other warm riding gear.  Here I was, looking the part of the newbie, in my shorts, breathable summer cycling shoes, and a light spring jacket.  Earlier in the day I was in a running shop buying a few gels for tonight’s ride (foreshadowing: right now would have been a great time to take one of them.  Strike 1) and I saw some clearance runners tights on sale.  I thought about buying a pair, but cheapness frugalness prevailed.  Those tights would have been really nice right about now!  Strike 2

I pulled my bike out of my car and started to get it ready: put the front wheel back on, which I wrenched on there pretty tight, and dug the half full water bottle out of my swim bag and put it onto the bike.  The ride is heading out from a park, so there was nowhere to fill it back up.  Should have brought it into work in between for a fill… whoops.  Strike 3

The ride set out and was uneventful for the slightly downhill first half of the route.  We were a large enough group to ride 2-up, so I had some great chatter with a few other riders, one of whom was at last week’s “easy ride” and told me the group this week was really pushing it relative to last week.  It felt a hair slower than race pace to me – something I shouldn’t have a problem sustaining for 40+km, but at times was hardly easy.  It probably took more energy out of me than I realized, and should have popped a gel right around here.  Strike 4 (starting to see the problem yet?)

The first sign of trouble came around the 2/3 mark.  Riding on a reasonably flat stretch, I was near the front of the group, when I started to fall back from the bike in front.  I tried to close the gap, but I couldn’t.  Riders from behind started to pass me.  I moved from the front of the group, to the back, to behind very suddenly.  I couldn’t catch up.  I was working hard, but not making up ground.  After a few tough km, one of the other riders looped back to ride with me (very nice of him).  He commented that my chain sounded a bit loud, and maybe it was sapping some of my energy efficiency.  I felt like I was laboring, no matter what gear I was in.

Then I heard a sudden loud pop.  My chain ceased briefly, after which I couldn’t switch down out of my big cog.  Something broke (and I’m still not sure what).  I was now limited to the heavy half of my gear options, and the ride home was almost fully uphill.

By the 3/4 mark the clouds were parting and the sun was coming out, and so was the headwind.  A few flags we past were blowing stiffly against us.  By now it was close to 8pm and distinctly colder than when we set out.  I was tired, cold, and starting to get very hungry.  I was thinking back to the morning’s 3,600m swim, to the food I’d eaten during the day.  To the gels I bought, but hadn’t taken yet.  To the running tights I could have bought, but didn’t.  I was falling apart.

My buddy rider stuck with me all the way back, over 2hours to ride 43km.  My hero!  He looked like he was coasting – barely going fast enough to ride a straight line while I was pushing for all I had.

I threw the bike in the car, cranked the heater, ate 2 gels, and drove home to warm up.

I think a few things conspired to make yesterday’s ride a complete shit show:

  1. First, I think I need to point a bit of a finger at the engine (aka my early season lack of fitness).  While the first ride may have been okay, I’m still getting my legs back, and did spend a week in between eating and drinking and sitting on my ass in Cuba.  It’s not lost on me that the engine needs some serious work!
  2. This was my first crack at a Masters Swim in the morning on the same day as a Club Ride after work.  I had swam 3,600m earlier that day already, which itself is an amount I’m still getting used to.  I need to figure out how to manage my energy and calories better on Mondays if I’m going to keep doing both
  3. Unless it warms up quickly (and I really hope it does), I need to invest in some warmer cycling clothes!
  4. I need to take my bike into the shop.  The shifting needs to be fixed, but something wasn’t right before that – not sure if the chain just needs to be oiled, or if something’s rubbing against a wheel (is it possible to put the front wheel back on too tightly??).  My bike was working against me – it needs some TLC!

Yesterday’s ride sucked, but there’s be others soon (as soon as the bike is back from the shop).  Some days you get the bear, some days the bear gets you.  Next week I’ll come back stronger!

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  1. April 28, 2015 at 4:52 pm

    Your optimism as always my dear, is inspiring. 🙂

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