Tuesday 1 December 2009

Sometimes it's just better on your own

It's been a while!

With it being the off season there's not much news and with the weather so bad there've been very few miles done. All in all that doesn't leave much to write about.

Thankfully this weekend the gales did die down and the rain stopped for a bit. Long enough to get a spin in anyway.  

Suitably wrapped up, complete with new overshoes and thermal gloves, I headed for north County Dublin on Saturday morning, intending to do a 35/40 miles. Enough to stretch the legs and still get home for the ballet run in the afternoon. My daughters the dancer by the way, not me :)   There was the prospect of an Ireland-South Africa rugby game involved too.

Anyway, heading around the Malahide estuary I caught up with two guys heading my direction. I got chatting and decided they were going pretty much my way so thought I'd tag along. Now I should point out that I had an ulterior motive. I've been back riding almost a year now. Apart from one or two exceptions I've been sticking pretty much by myself. That's been partly due to time constraints but partly down to confidence.  I know the level most groups are at and I've not felt that I've been at that level just yet.

Lately I've been tossing that one over and have been on the verge of calling a relative who said I can tag along with his Saturday morning chain gang. But each week I've chickened out. It's not the miles that I'm nervous about, it's the climbs. I'm still carrying a lot more weight than I should be and I feel like I'm climbing like a stone. I don't want to be the one letting the wheel go on the first ramp of the first climb of the day.

So when these two guys were heading my way I thought this'd be a good chance to test my legs. That was my mistake! Now, non-cyclists might not get the rest of this but anyone who's been out for a steady winter spin will understand.

The two guys turned out not to be cyclists as such. They were relatively inexperienced tri-athletes. And it showed!

I tagged on the back as we hit a major roundabout, and then some lights, so the three of us were all over the road at that stage. But after a half mile or so we hit the lanes and the chance to get a steady rhythm going. Out of courtesy I went straight to the front on the right (no wheel sucking from me!). One guy was on the left, the other behind. We pedalled along like that and after about five minutes I started to think I was already feeling the pace. I was a bit gutted but upped the revs and tried to keep talking as if it was all fine! It was only then I realised this guy was half wheeling me. OK, I thought, go with it as we'll be rotating soon and he'll drop back behind. So I waited for him to indicate he was dropping back. And I waited. And I waited.

Next thing, matey boy behind goes shooting past and takes up the lead by himself moving right across to the left hand side! What should I do now? Catch him up and take up on HIS right or let the other fella go up to him? Thankfully a junction saved me having to make that call. We turned right and got back in to formation with me and attacking boy on the front. The road started to rise a bit but I was feeling comfortable at the steady pace we were doing. Until the other guy decides to "attack". Off the front with him, up the rise opening a ten yard gap.

So it flattens out again and we form up yet again. At this point I'm starting to think about how I can take a turn off and leave them to it. But I stuck it out. After another couple of miles we get to the Nags Head and I'm hoping they'll keep it steady, so I might have a chance of getting at least some of the way up on the wheel. As we approached I felt the pace was picking up. My breathing was starting to labour now and the legs were starting to hurt already. Then I noticed why. Head number one had decided to go onto the big ring!

Good luck, I thought. I let the wheel go and watched as the by now thick fog swallowed them up on their race to the top.  By the time I was halfway up they were long gone.

I carried on alone and had a grand, if very cold, spin after that. Another 40 miles notched up.

But where does that leave me confidence wise? I can do the distance no bother. I could even match the pace on the flat without too much trouble. But I had no legs for the climb. Then again he was on the big ring. So does that cancel it out?

I'm going to have to bite the bullet soon. It's the best time of the year to tag along, while everyones taking it a bit easier.

Maybe just one more on my own first.....

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