On a whim I decided to sign up for the 50 mile ride for the Fletcher Flyer. It is a local mass bike ride with 4 route distances… 30, 50, 62 and 100. The course is described as “relatively flat”. Somehow in my optimism I translated this to mean FLAT. When you live in the foothills of the mountains there is not a lot of flat at all so anytime that word makes an appearance I get happy. It seems like a lot of the cyclists I have met over the past few months love to “climb”…. ride hard up a mountain. Not me… I love gently rolling hills.
I did see that in the area there were no “climbs” so I felt pretty good. Per MapMyRide, to be considered a climb the grade must be “For any climb to be rated (receive a climb score/category) it must be at least 500 meters in length with an average grade of 3% or more.”
I would bet there several hills on this ride that fell just a bit shy of that definition! Nothing I couldn’t handle – in fact I did my very best to attack every hill.
The first 25 miles were the most difficult. There were a lot of turns, lots of little hills and a ton of people. There was not a lot of room to move. Plus, there seemed to be an inordinate amount of new riders (haha… listen to me!). Seriously though, I do not how to hold a line and ride my bike straight. I know that if I brake going downhill (which I really didn’t do too much today for once) that I should move to the side. I know that, just like walking, if riding side by side with one or more people I should be aware of the space I am talking up and allow people to easily get around. Now, since I am new too, these are issues for me. I am sure more advanced riders just go around. For me it is just stress.
I just have to share the experience I had with two women cyclists. They were in front of me for a while talking and not maintaing a good line or a consistent speed. I could never get around them because of other cyclists and traffic. THey were annoying. At mile 6 they were already complaining. They were pushing a big gear, too… which means they where pedaling slow and hard all the time. No cadence AT ALL. (Again, who the heck do I think I am :))…
I FINALLY get around them, then a few minutes later they are back in front of me. Seriously, just like those annoying drivers. They got in front of me and slowed down again to talk. I wanted to scream.
I go to pass them and say to the first girl, who was falling behind the other “passing on your left”. She moves over. Next the other girl – she is riding the yellow line so to pass her I will have to go in the other lane. “Passing on your left”, I say, hoping she will move over. She doesn’t move. She laughs and the other girls says to her, “you are so bad”. She giggles.
But, I get around them again and have a clearing so I go as fast as I can to get some distance. Which, isn’t far since I hit another pod of people and we are getting ready to go uphill and make a right hand uphill turn. This is hard enough as it is, but in a crowd it is even hard. I am focused and maintaing a good cadence of about 90 RPM’s. I am preparing for the hill and the turn.
I hear a voice to my left just a bit behind me, “you are pedaling to fast”. I see it is one of those girls (the one that giggled), but I assumed they were talking to each other. She gets right next to me and looks at me, “You need to get in a bigger gear – you are pedaling too fast and you are not even going uphill yet”. I was so shocked that she said that. I really didn’t even know what to say. I wanted to make a smart comment but we were not even 10 miles into the ride and I really didn’t want to deal with this all day. I looked at her for several seconds, and not in a friendly voice said “thanks” and sped up.
The hill was upon us. I was not going to let her pass me. I really had nothing to worry about it. About half way up she was done.
I spent the next several miles riding as fast as I could to get some distance. I did not want to spend the next 40 miles dealing with them and it work. I never saw them again.
The rest of the trip was nice. After the 25 mile mark the crowd really started to spread out and I spent a good amount of time riding by myself. I was sunny and beautiful outside and I enjoying tackling the hills and going fast downhill. I made four scheduled rest area stops. Three of them were very brief – just enough time to fill up my water bottles and shove some food in my mouth. At the rest stop at mile 30 I took a few more minutes so I go to the bathroom and stretch. It was the break I needed to finish strong.
All in all I had a great day. I really love riding with the large groups (after they spread out!). I love the support at the intersections and having a marked course. There was a good bit of traffic, but I have to say the cars did a good job getting around everyone.
I have been saying that one of the reasons I like cycling so much is because it is so much easier on my body. I still believe that, but I have to say that 50 miles is not without some pain. Surprisingly, the most pain is still my feet! I thought that I would not have foot pain on my bike, but I do. Before I do any significant distance again I am going to have to figure out what to do about that.
Total riding time: 3:53
Rest time: 19 minutes
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