Friday, June 01, 2007


That's what they call them anyway. Last night was the first one I have participated in. I knew the meeting place, and thought I knew the ice cream stop but was wrong about that. I was also wrong about the pace we would be going.

We met right after work at the trailhead, for what I was told would be a "ride to Ravenna for ice cream." Since I didn't remember any ice cream shops in Ravenna, a small country town with no traffic lights, I mistakenly thought of the one ice cream shop I knew of, about 7 miles out. I knew we would still do the ride to Ravenna, 13 miles out, but figured we would hit the ice cream place when we were in the last part of the ride.
Six people (including me) showed up. It was hot, hazy, and windy, and there was a small threat of rain or a storm, but we figured we had time to get a decent ride in before anything happened. I knew without a doubt that I would be pushing hard regardless of who showed up, since I am always the one trailing behind. Just before we started out, the guy who cleans the porta-johns out shows up and starts that process. The smell was enough to get us on our way quickly. No more dawdling.

Our starting out pace was relaxed, slow actually. I started wondering if riding at 12.5-13 mph would do me much good, regardless of whether we rode 15 or 26. There were 3 men and 3 women, and within the first 2 miles, the men went slightly ahead and road together gabbing away. That left us 3 women behind them, chatting some. But eventually, the girls started getting bored with the pace and decided we had to pass the guys. This was decided without warning to me, so the other two took off and once again left me in their dust. And that was all that was needed to get the guys going too.

I started pushing then to at least keep a reasonable distance between us. They seemed to be going at 18-19 mph, and I was struggling to hold 16. One of the guys hung back with me. He said he hadn't been out much yet but was doing Ragbrai, the ride across Iowa ride in July, something he did every year. Good thing he was starting to build his mileage a month ahead, huh? I wasn't fooled by him though, because I knew what he was capable of.

So the pace was pushed to the 7 mile mark and the others stopped for us "lollygaggers" to catch up. Their idea of resting though was as soon as they saw us coming they headed out again. That was okay, since I didn't really want to waste time stopping when we didn't need to. At this point, the women rode together again, and the guys went way ahead.

The bugs were horrible--it sounded like they were playing ping pong off my helmet. And it was hot and sticky, but windy too, so at least we didn't sweat too badly. But I kept getting bugs in my mouth, and it felt like they were flying into the vents in my helmet, so I kept getting that crawling, itchy sensation on my head the whole way. I'm trying to learn not to complain about anything though, because no one else does--we all deal with the same conditions, so I figure I just need to suck it up.

I am having a hard time understanding, however, how I can be as hopelessly slow as I am. I did see some improvement last night, and I suppose it does require getting my bike legs back, but even when I rode at my best, I still could not keep up with any of these people! Its amazing though that it always seems so hard.

When we finally reached Ravenna, the half way point approximately, the others went off trail and through town. Good thing someone waited for me, or I would never have found them or the ice cream shop--at least not right away. The town is small enough that eventually I would have come upon it.

I am not the biggest ice cream person, so should have just ordered a baby cone, but I went with the small and it was HUGE! It was the size of a medium or bigger. I could only imagine how eating that much would slow me down on the return ride! And somehow, everyone else finished whatever they bought faster than me, including one of the guys who got a shake and a barbeque after I started on my cone, and were ready to roll again before I even got mine halfway finished, so I just gobbled most of the rest and threw out the last part of the cone, the part I like best. (sniff) Then I had to quickly get my gloves and helmet back on. The others had already gone through the "major" intersection before I even got clipped in, so I was forced to wait for the 2 cars coming through. It was just enough time of course for me to fall behind. So once again, I pedaled my guts out to catch up. This will eventually pay off, right?? Right??

One of the guys, Steve, the one with the OLD Trek 10 speed, hung back and waited until I caught up. It was really only about 3/4 of a mile to the trail, but once again I seemed to be the only one to encounter any problem. Like I said, I have NEVER seen any traffic on the road that the trail crosses--until last night. Then there was a car coming in each direction. I had thought I woukd be clever and cross to the opposite side of the road so I could get to the trail before the one car came by me, but that didn't work, and I was forced to get on the shoulder, in the gravel, and wait until he passed. But he didn't pass. He kept waiting for me to get back on the road and go to the trail. So we had this impasse, where neither of us knew what the other was going to do. I do not argue with cars, so I had to wait him out. This put the others almost a mile ahead by the time I did get back on the trail.

Steve nicely had circled back and waiter again, so I had someone to ride with and play catchup. I knew he could drop me in less than a minute, but he stayed with me until we caught the others, which took almost 6 miles to accomplish. They were hauling! By the time we left the ice cream shop, it was getting windier and windier, and it looked like a storm was imminent. So we rode hard, to hopefully outrun the storm. It took me a couple of miles, but eventually, I got up to about 17.9 mph and held it there pretty much until we caught the others.

When we did catch them, we actually had ridden out of the potential storm, and it was a little calmer now. Sue, who had also ridden Monday, was in her usual last part of the ride slowdown. She rides hard and fast, but usually slows down the last few miles, whether intentionally or just because, I don't know. But it gave me a chance to hang with her and even get ahead at the end. It was almost 8 pm by now, and while it wasn't dark, I would have liked to have taken off my dark glasses, if not for the bugs, so I was also glad to have someone who would check for traffic at the cross streets.

It was a nice ride. I felt like I had gotten a good workout and hopefully will be able to do this again. I am also hopeful that the next time I will get a little closer to keeping up with everyone!


bunnygirl said...

Ooh, I hate buggy rides! Especially when the little you-know-whats end up down my shirt!

You might want to think about getting some of those yellowish sunglasses for dusk. They'll still keep the bugs and wind out of your eyes, but you'll be able to see.

And don't worry about your speed. You'll get faster. Do you do Spinervals? Getting a trainer and some of Coach Troy's videos made a huge difference for me.

Ice cream rides sound awesome, btw!

Lisa - Slow & Steady said...

You are such a trooper. You deserved that ice cream, too bad you had to toss the cone!

Shelley said... are WAYYY faster then you give yourself credit are WAYYY faster then those people who have never even tried..:-)) Good for you!!

Phoenix said...

I wish I could ride with you, Vickie - it sounds like we'd be pretty well matched. You are getting faster - and like shelley said, you're faster than lots and lots of people out there.

Anyway, as long as its fun, who cares?

Flo said...

I would ride 13 hard miles for ice cream :)

TxTriSkatemom said...

Vickie -- thank you so much for your support -- I finished today, and a lot of it is because of your cheerleading over the last few weeks. I *really* appreciate it!!