So, today was my first go at riding with the You Can team. Last week I rode, but it was just me and the staff since, apparently, the possibility of afternoon rain is scary enough that no one wants to come out for morning practice. Lame-os.

I was really looking forward to riding today. It was my cookie for an entire week of reduced mileage. I knew I had trashed my legs for too many weeks in a row and that I really, really, needed to give them some rest when even a single flight of stairs was winding me. I tried really hard and by Friday I had only ridden one half of my typical mileage. I was really proud of myself. In the end, it turned out to still not be enough rest, but at least I was better.

Pikuro's New Headlight
At least Pikuro got a new addition of Pink today.

I showed up for the ride all raring to go (with the noodley excuse for a pair of legs that I had) and I was really excited to see that I would be riding with two other women and two other guys. The one guy was on a fancy-ass time trial bike, too, so I figured he was either experienced, or wanted to be. I figured I was in good company. The woman who was in charge of our group wasn’t wearing a team jersey. She had on a pale blue jersey with riding capris so well worn that you could see the moon through them. She was also incredibly soft in the middle. I underestimated her because of her look. She has twenty years of bike experience under her, admittedly large, belt. She was a steady lead and a confident descender…

and she was fucking annoying. We start riding with me in fourth position. Every single stop light I have to slam my brakes and then sprint to catch the fuck up. By the time the people in front of me signaled that they were going to stop, I was already slowing down because you could see the red light halfway up the road. Do you still have to signal when it’s bloody fucking obvious? And then when the light would turn yellow and they still weren’t signaling I was like, “are we taking this light? Shit!” ::slams brakes:: I’ve never ridden with a group less smooth.

I chalked the start up to weary legs. I figured the stops were whatever and the starts were because my tired legs just weren’t accelerating right. I did my best until we got to the first climb near Sagami lake. I had ridden this particular route before with Thunder so I knew what I was in for. I still got dropped pretty quickly, but this I’m used to. What I wasn’t used to was an old man on my tail saying “You can do it. Nearly halfway. Don’t worry, it doesn’t get any steeper. Two more turns until we crest…” SHUT UP ALREADY! I KNOW! I’VE RIDDEN IT! I’M NOT AN IDIOT, I’M RIDING ON TRASHED LEGS!

The rest of the ride was just a constant barrage of people (mostly the frumpy lady) telling me what to do intermixed with the old man telling me the climb ahead is almost over.

“Don’t brake in the curves” I know this, bitch, there was a fucking car headed right for me on the wrong side of the road. You want me to ride into it?

“Use your hamstrings to pedal. It’s more efficient.” You think I bought these fucking clipless pedals so I could enjoy falling over at stoplights?

“Stop at the intersection or else you will get lost!” Yeah, I know. What I don’t know is why you’re braking at the top of the goddamn hill. Isn’t bike practice about getting faster?

Why the fuck doesn’t anyone want to ride fast?!?!!!

Seriously, I felt like I spent five hours riding with a bunch of washed out putzes.

When we got back to the shop their super fast and really chill mountain biker turned road racer was there. He asked how I did. I told him it was rough and that my legs weren’t healed. The frumpy lady told him I did well on the flats, burned out on the hills, and on the descents made everyone pump their pedals the whole way lest I overtake them. That last bit made me proud. I’m not a good descender and I still panick and tense up, particularly if the road is new or busy, but it made me happy to know I could put a rider with twenty years experience on guard. They discussed my bike and my gears and decided it wasn’t my fault but the fault of riding a cyclocross bike at a road practice. I would like to say that no fault can be found with Pikuro and she is a perfect bicycle just the way she is (love her!), but after I saw the weights on some of the new frames available at the shop (did you know an entire fucking frame can weigh in at under 800g now?), I concurred that Pikuro’s weight could be keeping me down. She’s just a tad over 10, maybe even 11 kilograms. A new carbon bike with good quality components can come in at under 8 easy. Two to three kilograms of weight would be a great savings to me on a hill.

So would stronger legs.

Then they discussed my group riding manners. She wasn’t pleased with me. I wasn’t pleased with her. Mountain-bike-turned-road-racer dude was very kind. He suggested that perhaps I was just inexperienced and still not able to anticipate the movements of the group fully. Thank you, Mr. Mountainbiker Man!

All in all it was an exhausting day. In contrast to the usual serenity that cycling alone brings me, riding with this group not only muzzled my beast, but stole my attention and sucked all of my energy. Between the choppy pacing of the other riders, the streets busy with traffic, and the frumpy lady with all her unwelcome advice on how to ride, my brain was ready to short circuit.

Frazzled brain, trashed legs, loss of my dream for finding like minded people to ride with.

It was a hard day.

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