I've been riding a lot lately, getting ready for what I'm not really sure yet. The season is starting to wind down although 'cross is right around the corner. It's going to be hard getting myself to train hard and prepare for 'cross knowing there is no chance in hell I'm going to Nationals.
Lately I've been hitting some of the local group rides, more for motivation than anything. Sometimes riding by yourself is good, other times it's not. Last week I hit the Tuesday Princeton ride leaving from Columbia. I rode over figuring to meet up with the group as they crossed over Rt. 108 onto Homewood Rd. I ran into my friend Trey and we cruised towards the shop to meet the ride where some Indian woman decided she thought she had the right of way coming across the road making a left hand turn and I was in her way. Fortunately for her she didn't hit me.
The Princeton ride is what I would call a "Fred" ride, lot's of hairy legged guys wearing Pro Tour team regalia or bright mono-colored jerseys riding deep dish wheels and clip on aero bars. The loop is loosely based on the Columbia Triathlon course and is fairly rolling and hilly. On the first climb guys were scampering like cockroaches when the lights go on for the wheel in front of them trying not to get popped 10 minutes into the ride. I wasn't feeling all that great as I recently started up my strength training regimen on Mondays and my legs were a bit tired and sore from lifting the day before. On the second climb Trey went off the front and had a small gap so I decided to stretch the legs and make a hard acceleration to close the gap without dragging anyone with me. This was my undoing. I caught Trey but went totally anaerobic in the process. We crested the climb and descended only to start the third climb, a long gradual stretch about a mile long that kicks up at the end. Mike was on the front setting a strong tempo and before the little kicker, I got popped. I figured the group would wait at the circle at the top but they kept rolling, TT time. I ended up finished with the "B" group. Somewhat embarrassing.
This week was a bit different, the group was a bit smaller as the rain may have scared some people away. When I rolled into the Princeton parking lot, the first thing I noticed out of a group of 60 or so cyclists was some kid in a full LiquiGas kit. I know it's somewhat arrogant and elitist to say this and falls under the "typical roadie mentality", but we all do it, on the road or on the dirt. It's a form of self motivation really. I told myself he was the sacrificial lamb, I would give all it took to make sure he didn't make the selection. As we started the ride we were somewhat disorganized as people trickled out on their own unsure of the rain but as we crossed over to Homewood Rd., about 12 riders formed what would be the main group. Of course, at the front was LiquiGuy trying to set the tempo up the first climb. I sat back gauging the rest of the group and could tell the pace wasn't as hot right from the start as the week before. As we rolled down the backside there were about 4 guys on the front when I realized they were all riding the brakes, too scared to descend in the rain and not realizing grabbing handfuls of brake on a wet decent was a sure fire way to cause a wreck. I decided pulling them was better than having one take me down so I rode to the front and started to pull us towards the second climb. It was there I decided this was where LiquiGuy would get dropped after hearing one Fred say he didn't think the pace was that hard and that he's usually struggling to stay on by this point. I set a hard tempo up the false flat and the steeper first half of the climb and when I moved off to let the group pull through, no one came by me. I looked back to see the closet guy 10m off my wheel. The group finally caught up, minus LiquiGuy and we were off to climb #3. As we topped the third climb, we were down to six. Again on the descents through the reservoir no one would get off the brakes so I hammered it on the series of rollers until we were down to 3. Of the 12 or so that started it was just myself and one other guy at the end. Ahh, sweet redemption.
The Wednesday Race pace ride is another one I've hit up recently. It heads out through Marriottsville and has a few nice climbs on the route. There are only two regulars, Mike and Dan. The first time I rode it I realized these guys only like to attack the hills so the past two weeks I rode my fixie, to their surprise and somewhat dismay of being able to keep up and set the pace at times. I'm probably bailing on the ride tomorrow as my legs are super sore from lifting. I'll probably pay for it since riding the fixie and spinning out on some of the long descents usually helps loosen them up and get the soreness out.
Saturday was a long hard ride out in Myersville with Bryan. Hard climbs, empty roads and good company. Sunday Nystrom and I hit Avalon where I proceeded to break my chain climbing up the waterbar trail. You can read about that debacle of that here.