Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Riding with the Big Boys

I took my bike back to the shop on Monday to see if I could solve the burning feet issue. I guess this can be normal during long rides and it's actually called "Hot foot". I was told to wear thinner socks not my beloved Thorlos, which I have preferred for running. I also got a new Tri seat and bike shop owner moved my cleats back just a smidgen. I was all set for the Tuesday evening group ride.

On the Tuesday evening group rides, there are two groups: slow group(usually women) and fast group(usually men). The fast group is saturated with testosterone and at the end of the 25 mile loop, they "balls to the walls" race to the finish. My husband has tried to talk to me about changes that will happen as I train and improve. He said training friends are going to come and go in my life. As I improve, I need to train with people that will challenge me that may mean not spending time with friends. If they are real friends, they will understand and encourage me to push myself. Since the group rides started last week, my husband has been bugging me to ride with the big boys. Yesterday, I threw myself into the testosterone driven pack.

I rode my bike for about 90 min. before the group ride to try out the new adjustments. I didn't have any problems with burning feet. Hurray! I made my way to the bike park and met up with Jessica and some other friends. I said before we started out "I am growing balls and I want to try to keep up with the fast group." I saw the lead group start to pull away so I knew I needed to quit screwing around and REALLY RIDE the bike. No more chit-chat, I put my game face on! I tried to catch up with them because I knew I needed to be in their draft. I left my comfort zone, the friends that I have been training with for several months. I left Jessica and worried about her because she hadn't ridden the course before. I didn't want her to get lost. There is a shift that has occurred during this training, I used to worry what others would think of me too much. In the past, I wouldn't push myself because I didn't want others to judge me. I didn't want them to think I was showing off or a bitch because I left them. I don't really care now, I train to reach my goals.

I could never catch the very first group of men but I caught and stayed with the second pack of men almost the entire ride. It was pretty funny when I started passing the guys. Mojo and Clifford, they'd do a double take. I think I hurt their pride because that's when the second pack formed behind me. I passed the four men in the second group they all filled in behind me, so I tucked myself down in my new bars and tried to keep a steady, 21mph pace. I was starting to breathe like never before on my bike, kinda panting like when running. Finally, the man right behind me said "I will lead for awhile". (This is when I feel like a blond) Remember, this is only my second "big group" ride and last week, I stayed with the slow group. The big boys have a totally different way of riding. No sex life stories or swapping recipes, it's shut up and ride the bike or be left in the dust. I had no clue what this guy meant by "he'll lead for awhile". I thought he was going to go around me and lead me, so I kept pumping my legs to keep the 21mph pace. After a couple min. he said again louder, "I said I would lead for awhile". I was like "Okay, dude go ahead!" and I expected him to pass me. No skin off my back because I could draft. He still isn't passing me and yells at me "I SAID I'LL LEAD!" Finally, I realized I wasn't doing something right so I ask him what I'm supposed to do. He tells me I'm supposed to fall back to the end of the line. After that, I understood the game that was being played. We all took turns leading and the leader would fall back and we'd go around in circles. It was fun and it challenged me.

With five miles to go, I got dropped. I watched them leave me and I felt defeated. I so wanted to keep up with them the entire ride. I watched them pull farther and farther away from me. I tried my best to keep them in my sight so I wouldn't get lost. I felt alone. I felt scared when the three, frothing at the mouth, polar bear dogs were chasing me and nobody was there to help. I survived and screamed at them "No!NO!Bad Dogs!" trying to sound like Satan. I kept thinking to myself what doesn't kill me makes me stronger. I was the first woman back to the bike park.

The men that left me were really nice to me when I got back. Probably because they still had their pride because they did leave me. They told me I did great and I was strong. They said if I hadn't lead the group for so long, I would have been able to keep up. They also didn't know I had done a 90 min. ride before we ever started. Next time, I won't ride before the group ride and see if I can stay with the pack. My goal is to one day is to not only keep up but race them to the finish line and give them a little dose of estrogen.

Then, I worried about Jessica and the other girls. Did they get lost? Was she going to be upset with me for leaving? A little while later, she and another group of men and women pull into the park. Jessica said she had a great ride too and pushed herself hard. She gave me a ride home and stayed to drink a few beers and eat some Mexican food I'd made before the ride. She told me she was happy for me for trying to keep up with the men. With that statement, I knew Jessica is a true friend. She only wants the best for me and there is no jealousy between us. So we laughed and ate Easter candy. A perfect ending after a hard workout.


At 10:33 AM, Blogger nancytoby said...

YOU GO GIRL!! You're flying! "Poor" Jessica is going to have to learn to grow balls too if she wants to keep up! Otherwise - tell her to bring a map next time. :-)

At 12:36 PM, Blogger Flatman said...

What an awesome day for you! Way to keep up with the big boys!!!

Thats' funny about the guy yelling at you to let him lead. He probably thought you were a serious badass for not letting him pull! (and you are.) :o)

At 1:25 PM, Blogger backtodirt said...

Endurance athletes, especially, cyclists and triathletes: take interest in Mojo's blogs. She is learning, developing and synthesizing new information relative to her sport at a rate far faster than most newer endurance athletes. Athletes at a similar piont in there competitive endeavors could adapt faster also by following along with her.

Don't just limit your observations to her athletic exploits. Her lifestyle adaptations relative to her endurance lifestyle can help teach the wiser of her peers.

At 1:30 PM, Blogger Miss Jenny said...

I love it when women show the men what's up. You make me proud!

At 2:30 PM, Blogger Jill said...

GREAT JOB!! I can keep up with the fast riders for a while, but eventually get left behind. But I am getting left behind further along the ride each time! That is a good sign. Last Saturday my cycle coach said I have improved quite a bit with my speed!! One of these days I will be able to keep up with Patrick - our team's Lance.

At 8:36 PM, Blogger tarheeltri said...

Great job not just keeping up, but getting out there with a group in the first place. It seems like there's so much etiquette to riding with a group I've always gone it alone... but sooner or later I'll have to get over it and learn the ropes!

At 11:26 PM, Blogger Jessica A. Freas "Freeze" said...

Girl, you did awesome and I would expect nothing else from you! I will grow balls one day (well, not really), but will try to compete with the boys next time. I do believe that training with people that are better than you really do make you better! Why do you think I like training with you? You push me to go hard and you really do teach me a lot no matter how long I have been doing it! I am amazed by your abilities! I hope you realize how good you really are! Keep it up and don't worry about leaving me behind! I will find my way and if I don't, you know that I always have my cell phone on me! By the no matter what, just think of me cheering you on at the MAP race! No matter where we are, race or no race, I am ALWAYS cheering for you!

By the way, thanks for the dinner and the beers!

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