So I am sitting (or rather lying) on my couch writing this. Rob and I just got back from a 130km ride with the Neworld bike store crew. We finished it, and in this semi-comatose state with my legs killing me and my head feeling like I drank 13 beer last night, I am reflecting on why I love endurance sports so much.
I felt, going into the ride, that it was not going to be my day. This was largely based on my observations of the turnout for the ride at 9am this morning. There were about 30 riders and as they arrived at the store I noticed two telling details. One, they were all men, and two, over 80% of them were wearing the Neworld jersey, which meant that at some point they had parted with a fair amount of money to be a member of the club, usually a sign of a serious rider.
So, off we went in a double paceline, taking it in turns to ‘pull’ at the front. The trick to road riding in a group like that is to keep up with the main group because draughting behind, or in the middle of, a group allows you to travel at speed with less effort than if you were riding by yourself. If you get ‘dropped’ it takes a gargantuan effort to catch up, because, not only are you having to play ‘catch up’,Â you are doing so without the benefits of the groups collective speed. Even once you are dropped, if you have to ride home without the group it is a much slower and more draining ride than if you hang in with them. So, get the picture? You don’t want to get dropped!
I can’t say the 3 hours and 50 minutes was easy. In fact, including all the adventure races and mountain bike races I have ever done, my legs have never been so tired before. I think it is because it’s so early in the season and spending so much time in Gabon takes it’s toll on my endurance. At two points in the ride, just after the half way point, I got dropped. On both occasions with a little help and encouragement I was able to rally and come back strong to finish the ride.
Jeff who owns Neworld took the trouble to come back for me on both occasions to ‘pull’ me back to the group. Jeff is a phenomenal cyclist, he rides with Elite riders, I rarely go out with his group. There was no reason for him to do that for me, people get dropped from those rides all the time. But as he left me to go off and do a bit more herding, he said that he was so impressed by my ability to hang in there that he wanted to give me a fair chance. That meant so much to me that I dug deep and hung on and ultimately finished the ride with the group, reduced to about 15 riders by the end.
This post would not be complete without paying homage to my wonderful husband who rode with me all the way andÂ even when he was tired and hurting, gave me a little push up the hills at the end when I was almost in tears with frustration at my fading power and my aching legs.
And that’s why I love this sport. It is about the people you meet and what they give you when you most need it. I hope I can get good enough to be able to return the favour at some point in the future, or at least pay the good deeds forward to those who find themselves in need.
But for now I am planning on how I am going to make up for all those expended calories…I think tonight is going to be a curry night…