Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Lessons from the Road

With the holiday weekend I got a good deal of time of the bike (I also got a 13 mile run in).  On Saturday morning we met at Winn Dixie.  The group was on the smallish size just being 5 including me. 

I have made the decision to work a little harder and go for it more often.  I also need to be smarter when I pull or try to break away.  When I get to the front or try to create a gap I go all out – unfortunately I can only sustain this effort for a minute or two.  Then I have to give it everything that I have just to grab the last wheel.  I watch my heart rate continue to climb and climb after the pull. 

Well, on Saturday I took a couple of really good pulls for me – I stuck my heart rate at a solid zone 4 and gave good pulls of a mile plus.  This is what I need to do.  The first half of the ride and we were averaging 21 + MPH.  When you consider all of the chit chat and slow pedaling that 21 + means there were points that we were really moving.

Lesson 1:  During the second half of the ride I was drafting about third in line.  It was a rolling selection of road and I we were going into a slight head wind.  I moved just a hair to my left to gage the wind.  Butch told me that during a race it would be easy to edge me out into the draft.  He effortlessly inched forward and had taken my place in the pace line.  Just like that I was working much harder.  Butch let me back in but in a race I would have had to drift all the way to the back of the pack.  Remember to keep it tight and hold the wheel close.

Lesson 2:  Towards the end of the ride I was feeling strong.  We were on another set of rolling hills.  I had forgotten that this was the beginning of a tough couple of miles.  I made the mistake of passing on the down hill of one of the rolling hills and hammer up the next.  Well, when I passed the entire group jumped on my wheel and waited for me to get tired going up the next hill.  Then they passed me like I was standing still.  I was huffing and puffing and just could not grab the wheel.  The pack was just out of my reach and continuing to pull away.  The group was soft pedaling as we reach town when I caught back up.  Ed told me of my mistakes.  He said that he was on my wheel and just started to smile.  He said that I could not have set it up any better.  It is just too easy for everyone to follow on the down hill – even if it is just a dip before the next hill.

Lesson 3:  This was the Sunday ride.  It was another section of road that has a long steady climb.  We were riding steady trying to chase down another rider.  We were closing but I was impatient.  I jumped out of the third position and sprinted ahead.  I charged hard and reached the rider.  Actually, I flew by the rider and tried to keep the pace.  I started to slow but Butch was on my wheel.  He jumped ahead of me and it took just about everything to stay with him.  He then slowed but started to attack every few minutes.  I was able to counter and get back on the wheel but it was taking its toll.  There was no need to jump in front of the group.  I could have stayed in the pack and conserved energy and then attacked at the end.

These were good lessons and an even better time riding.  All in all a great holiday weekend.


Matty O said...

Sounds like the biggest lesson to be learned is that there is NO EGO on the bike? It is more of an intellectual move than a pride move huh? I think I would fail miserably at any bike race haha.

I love reading about your bike stories, I have learned A LOT and yet again the "better way" of doing things is completely the opposite of my initial thoughts. Go figure.

Nice job man, you are definitely going to become one heck of a biker with all this riding!

Jeff - DangleTheCarrot said...

Great weekend of rides James!

Love the stores, as I have much to learn on the mental side of the group rides as well.

BUT after reading #3 I thought to myself, "...and that is why he is a triathlete!"

Emz said...

YAY for a great weekend!!

That's a lot of riding ---- even I know that! ;)

Mike Russell said...

Good suggestions. Race strategy has so many intricacies that you always have to be on your toes. It is nice to have someone who will mentor you like that.

Big Daddy Diesel said...

All your example is why I suggest forming a small little team, switch roles every race, work together to get the poduim spot. Racing alone is tough.

Kirk (MyBestTri) said...

Those are all great lessons for road cycling. Coming from a mtn biking background I'm still learning the group dynamics involved in road cycling. There is a lot more strategy and planning involved in attacking (or not) on the road. I learn something from every group ride.

Caratunk Girl said...

Love reading about your thoughts on training. I wish I had someone to ride with that could mentor me like that, you are lucky for that for sure!

Aimee said...

Thanks for sharing your lessons learned. I have never ridden in a group before because I'm actually terrified of the whole drafting thing. Maybe some day I'll find a group to ride with who will teach me the ropes!

lindsay said...

Boy you kind of make me nervous for serious bike riding! Right now I just go out alone or with Josh and he's faster cause his bike is lighter (my excuse) so I am
usually alone/never drafting and such. Sound like some good rides though, and the only way to get better is to learn such mistakes. Better in practice than race day!