Friday, May 14, 2010

Back of the Pack

Well, this isn’t a race report…or anything that I would normally want to blog about. I felt so compelled to share this, so here I am.

I’ve been cycling a couple of times a week to try and supplement my running with some non-impact exercise. Pretty much every time I get on the bike, my legs are already dead. I’m not a very strong cyclist, though I think I gave myself even more credit than I deserved.

Last night I went for my first group-ride with the Reston Bike Club. There were about 80 people lined up with their bikes hoping to get in a good ride. They had 5 levels, 1 being the hardest and 5 being the easiest (you know, the slow-pokes). My neighbor had been hounding me to come out and ride, but he thinks I’m some studly athlete or something. Yes, I run…but that’s about the extent of my non-dimensional “talent”.  I signed up for group 5, as they advertised their average pace to be 14-15 mph. While I typically ride a little faster than that, I didn’t want to risk being dropped. My lovely neighbor harped on me pretty bad and convinced me that I’m definitely level 4, if not level 3. I told him it was my 7th workout in 3 days, and I really didn’t feel like I had a good ride in my legs for the night. He introduced me to a woman who rides in the 4s, and she said she would stick with me. I grudgingly switched to the 4’s, which was the stupidest decision I could possibly make.

As we all filed off, it was evident that the 4’s were the biggest group. With well over 40 people, the average speed was SUPPOSED to be 17-18mph. We took off going well over 20, and I tried my best to stay level with the back of the pack. For those who aren’t familiar with the accordion effect, I spent 2 miles being the end of a slinky continually trying to catch up with the main pack. I was going 24-25mph on the flat areas, and struggling like crazy going uphill. At last, it happened. The group made it through a light and I did not.

I was feeling completely defeated as I made my way through the intersection. I peddled around for a few minutes, feeling the tears start to well up in my eyes. I got dropped. I was alone. I had no idea where I was, and I had this ridiculous “cue sheet” that supposedly tells you the route. What the hell is a cue sheet anyways? I start to peddle back the way I came, and the heavens opened up and a shining light descended over 3 lone cyclists heading towards me. Ok, that’s not entirely accurate, but I was very happy to see them. They were group 5. The slow-pokes. The 5 hour marathoners (if you are a 5 hour marathoner, I mean no offense. You know that you’re slow).  I spun my bike around and joined their group. I explained that I got lost, and was mercilessly dropped. One of the girls said that group 4 always rides fast, typically well over 20 mph.

I spent the next 20 miles laughing, grunting, cursing up hills, and laughing some more. We had a great time. I have never been so happy or so proud to be riding with the slowest people in a group. I will be back next week, and I will proudly take my place at the back of the pack. 


  1. F those 4's. And your neighbor too. And the chick that said she'd stick with you. Maybe you should ask her to run with you, tell her you'll run with her at a normal pace - 8 minute miles - and then drop the hammer with a few 7's and keep pushing it 'till she drops.

    Seriously though, cool you met up with the others and ended up having a good ride.

  2. Too funny, and nice to know you're human. :-) Poor sweetie, so glad the Level 5 angels came to save you when they did (those cue sheets would totally leave me lost, as well).

  3. That's awesome! I've been there, and it's not a good feeling, but it's really great when someone decides to stop playing "elitest." :)

  4. Bah, those 4's are the worst! Just keep it up and soon enough you'll be the one dropping them! Great blog by the way! Looking forward to seeing your write up on the North Face race! Of course we should probably run it and all first... :)