Those old guys are quick up the hills! How do they do that?

Based on my last triathlon experience I realised that I need to train on my road bike (which I have only ridden about 4 times in the 2 years I have had the bike!) and not my favoured mountain bike.  The only problem is I’m not a big fan of cycling on the road and the wheels are so thin I don’t feel particularly stable, so when I get the motivation to go out on my bike I choose my trusty mountain bike with the nice chunky wheels that handle the mud and bumps.    This made me realise that I can’t do this on my own – I need others around me – I get my motivation from interactions with other people rather than just on my own.  So I decided to find a local cycling club.

I looked on the internet and managed to find a local club that just so happened to be having their monthly “Come and Try” ride that weekend.  I decided to go and try.  Now I come across as a confident person – you need to in my line of work – and on one on one interactions I am – the situations that terrify me though are when you are new and everybody else knows each other.  This could be at an industry specific networking event or joining a new club.  This was no acceptation.  I had that little voice in my head telling me lots and lots of negative thoughts like you are not going to know anybody, you haven’t ridden a bike for nearly a year, you are going to be too slow, you’re not good enough etc.  But I managed to diffuse these thoughts and still go along but it didn’t stop the butterflies in the stomach when I turned up – which was stupid really because apart from the leader everyone else was new too – so yes they were more experienced road bikers than me (not hard really is it!) but I could keep up quite easily.  Ride was about 40km long and we stopped at a tea shop for cake half way round (I was very pleased with myself as I managed to resist the homemade cakes – which was incredibly tough!). 

I had a few issues with the gears on the hills – apparently I need to learn how to spin as it will save my legs – problem is I haven’t quite worked out what this means yet other than going slower and my tires need to be at 100bar pressure and not the 60bar which I had them at – you live and learn all the time.  I was encouraged to try a proper club ride and was told I could probably manage the medium pace group but should stick to the easy one until I can work the gears – sensible advice. 

So last weekend I went along to my first proper club ride.  I had expected to be really nervous about turning up there but for some reason I wasn’t – I guess it was because I knew that I could handle the pace.  On the way there I bumped into someone at the traffic lights in the club top so got chatting and it meant I didn’t turn up at the group on my own.  What I arrived I was greeted by the membership secretary who had his arm in a sling from a recent bike accident – not the best confidence booster I have to admit but he seemed friendly enough.  There were a lot of people milling around but it turned out to be two groups – the ‘super quick, take no prisoners, we are not waiting’ group headed off and we were just left with the nice easy paced social riders – there were about 10 of us.  Among them was one of the girls who I had met on the try ride the week before which was good.

Off we set for out 30mile ride –which according to my cycle computer thing was near 36 miles but who is counting.  Pace was quite steady and everyone was happily chatting away.  Seemed to be a mixed bunch mainly guys and 5-6 of them were retired in their early 60s – I think the oldest said he was 68.  But everyone seemed very friendly.  The idea of the easy ride is to be very social keeping to the pace of the slowest (tends to be about 11-12mph) and if one person has a problem like a puncture we all stop and wait.

On the flat and on the hills I was fine – easily keeping up with them – but the ride was quite hilly – I didn’t think I was going that slowly on the hills (there were people slower put it like that) but on each hill suddenly these old boys seemed to come into their own – I would be there pushing hard not really going anyway and they would come shooting past me appearing to do it with ease!  How on earth do they do that?  I need to learn that trick!

I guess it all comes down to experience and muscle memory – they have been doing it for years.  I think I am going to join the club purely because I want to learn how to do that!  Plus it might help me motivated to keep fit though the winter.  I don’t like not being good at something and I admit I am a complete novice on my road bike but I can only get better.  When I got home from the ride I ordered myself some new cycling shoes (triathlon type ones that one have one strap for easy access), clippy pedals so I can get rid of the damn toe straps I keep getting my feet stuck in (may also help on the hills!) and a new women’s fit saddle as apparently mine was a men’s one and that may explain some of the pain I was having.  They have just arrived so I’m off out now to play with my new toys 🙂


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