Tuesday, 16 October 2012

More group riding

Another exhausting week but Sunday dawned as a beautiful day, and having seen an email about another "beginners'" ride with the tri club, I couldn't possibly not go out.  In retrospect, I should probably have gone for a gentle potter with Mr Tuna...

The ride didn't get off to the best start when I wheeled my bike out and remembered that Mr Tuna had fitted toe clips onto it.  If I hadn't had such a stressful week, I might not have forgotten and found half an hour to practice with them.  Cue considerable wobbliness that nearly made us late for the ride.  We got there just in time to set off, which meant that I couldn't nip behind a tree to get rid of my large mug of peppermint tea, nor get rid of an extra layer.  Whilst it was cold enough for our cars to frost up, the sun actually made it quite a lot warmer and I was too hot with an extra light jacket.  Finally, the ride leader said in a jolly manner "I hope you're not going to hold us up on the downhills this week".  Whilst it was kindly meant, in the low mood that I had, it immediately dented my confidence and I was glad for wearing sunglasses to disguise the fact that I spent at least the first fifteen minutes in tears.  Things didn't get much better as we set off, as trying to get my feet into the clips meant that I was immediately left behind and didn't get the chance to catch up for those fifteen minutes of tears.  The ride seemed a lot harder than the week before, it was more "lumpy" (i.e. more up and down), and I seemed perpetually to be dropping out of the back due to the toe clips and the hills.  The worst bit was right at the end, when I tired, and the group had disappeared into the distance after a hill.  On the last ride, I never got left alone, but this time even Mr Tuna had gone too, and I was left riding along a busy road by myself which made me feel really vulnerable.  Eventually, a rider came back to look for me and that enabled me to speed up and get to the point where Mr Tuna and I were to leave the group.  I cried and cried afterwards as I felt that I had held everyone up and was just failing dismally on the bike.

But of course there are some positives, even if I feel I have lost my confidence with going out with a group.  As I said, it was beautifully sunny, and I do love the chance to explore the lovely Oxford countryside in a way that you just can't do in the car.  The route that we went on is one that I'd like to do again with Mr Tuna sometime.  In the few sections where I was in the middle of the group, I managed to keep up ok.  My new legwarmers which are long enough to go from sock line right up to my shorts kept me cosy.  And, by the end I was getting better at the toe clips.  According to my new cycling app (Strava), I averaged 11.8mph, including the various stops, with a top speed of 24.8mph, and we had hit exactly 30mph when we got home.


  1. Oh, gosh, that was a really unfortunate thing for the group leader to say right at the start, they maybe should have thought that no one wants to feel they are slowing everyone down, especially new people. And you had all the technical things to cope with, too.

    This is why I don't go out with running clubs - the local one is friendly, I am allowed to chat on their fb page, but I went out with them a couple of times and lagged behind, too slow for their "slow group", felt horrible about it, had a cry on the way home ... and I'm afraid to say didn't go again after the second go.

    I'm sure there'll be people stopping by with better more encouraging stories than that but, well, it's OK to be better training alone, at your own speed; I still managed to improve my speed and stamina doing it that way.


    Liz x

  2. I do enjoy the group riding and as there isn't too much time before I have to tackle 56 miles in 4 hours I need to be pushed outside of my comfort zone as well as doing my own thing. I think I'll put it down to combination of unfortunate with my own low mood....

    1. Don't you hate it when there's someone with that attitude. You WILL be able to do the 56 miles well within that time. Just keep going and you will find your riding skills with a group will improve so much.

  3. Sorry you had a tough ride, Verity. It's difficult to get used to clipping in and clipping out, and I would've been totally overwhelmed with that plus the ride leader's comment. (Heck, four months later, and it's *finally* starting to feel somewhat natural.) When I first got clips, I spent 45 minutes or so practicing in an empty parking lot, which helped a lot. Hang in there, friend! If it were easy, everyone would do it.