Death By Group Ride

The riders who showed up for the Utah Velo Club group ride tried to kill me today. Sure, they played it cagey by being all friendly and chatty at the shop. I was talking with some guys as we rolled out and noticed I'm on the back. Then the group got out of the city streets and into the farm roads and the pace picks up. I stop talking as I finally figure out this is a fast ride. Seems like there were plenty of guys taking the lead and pushing the pace. It wasn't like this last ride, but that was a hilly climbing route and it seems there are lots of sprinters in the group so it was a more mellow ride, but out on the flats today these guys were having a hay day.

Lest you think I'm just going to complain, let me state that I'm being fascitous and exagerating a bit here for effect. I was hoping for a good, fast ride today so I did enjoy the flogging I got, but I was surprised by the pace. I considered hitting the RMR crit tonight for a similar all-out effort, but I'm glad I chose the group ride.

Before I go on let me say I enjoy good group rides. When you ride with a group of riders who know what they're doing and go fast, it's really fun. Going fast is fun all by itself, but in a paceline it's even better. And a group ride lets you try things and goof around. Like taking a pull on the front, bridging up to latch back onto the lead group, drafting, and sprinting for the "sprinter points" at various landmarks along the way. A good group can elevate road biking, conversely a bad group ride can be a miserable experience. Happily for me, I've had overwhelmingly good times riding with the Utah Velo Club - just a good buch of guys (and sometimes a few girls) to ride with.

OK, back to the ride.

We're motoring toward Saratoga Springs and I'm just hanging on the back, still a bit stunned at the pace, but enjoying it too. We meander through the streets of Saratoga Springs and as we get close to the end (turnaround point) the pace picks up - it's a race to the end. I've done this before and it's fun. I usually go off too early and get caught, but this time I stayed behind Stan, because he's a good tactition and when I saw him go I went with him. I stayed on his wheel as he went off the front and up the final little climb and coasted to the turnaround.

We regrouped and headed north to Thanksgiving Point. There was a steady breeze coming out of the north. I hung out up front behind Matt and Stan. Along a north bound road the speed pushed over 20 mph into the wind - I was glad I was drafting, but it was still a workout.

Most of the riders stopped at a park for water, but I had plenty so I rolled on with Matt. He's a strong rider and it was fun to ride with him, especially when I drafted off him the majority of the time. We did a good pace up the Jordan River trail to the bridge (turnaround #2). Since we couldn't see the rest of the group Matt invited me to do the climb on the other side of the river. I should have said no, but I went anyway. I was pretty worked, but at least I had enough sense to go slow. It still hurt. We started back down the paved trail. We passed the rest of the group and stopped at a junction where the group would split off while Matt headed down the trail to head home.

Back with the main group they kept up the stiff pace and I mostly hung on the back. At times Mike lead off and ramped up the speed beyond what I felt I could sustain so I dropped off, usually with a few others. We had a tailwind now, but my legs were aching and I just couldn't push 30 mph.

It was a good push to get back to the shop. I talked with Josh and Mike for a while and then headed home. I enjoy the variety of cycling and road riding in a group is one of my favorites. Thanks Utah Velo Club riders!


Andy H. said...

It's funny how roadie "group rides" always turn into unofficial races. Fun but still funny.

KanyonKris said...

I wouldn't want it any other way. If I want to poke along I can ride solo. But I agree it is funny.

MOCougFan said...

My biking partner and I always have "sprint points" at designated areas. We've done it so many times it is an unwritten rule. We might be talking and just rolling along, but I always know when we start getting close the chatter ends and the tactics start. So fun.