Riding for a Reason

Changing the world, one mile at a time

Gear-Grinder team ride and Lessons Learned (Doogie Howser Style)


Today was my first ride with the team I just joined called Gear-Grinder.  I noticed them at the Tri-ing for Children’s Triathlon and they seemed pretty fun and were a very good team, so I decided to join to improve my own performance and meet some other fun people.

I was getting ready to leave work and head over to the Highland House in Mequon where we were meeting.  One last look at the website and something caught my eye.  They have some world class athletes on the team!  Just about every race that the team enters, there are people finishing on the podium for them.  It’s pretty impressive.  I thought nothing of it and went about my business. 

I was planning on this being like the Monday ride I had with Beans & Barley.  A solid pace at about 25ish miles total.  I arrived and introduced myself to some of the other team members.  Really one of the most friendly groups that I have ever met for a workout, I was quite impressed from the beginning.  People just kept showing up, which again impressed me.  I started talking to a couple of the guys to get a feel for what the ride was like.  The girl that sent me the registration info was the one that told me about the ride.  I neglected to ask any further questions.  In the parking lot I was told that the ride is usually “about 50-55 miles”… Let me say that again so you don’t think I stuttered… “ABOUT 50-55 MILES!!!!”  My first reaction is that he was just giving the new guy a hard time, but I paused to wait and see if he laughed and to my dismay, no laugh followed.  I had a mini-panic attack until I reassured myself that I could do 50 miles, heck I just did more than that a couple weeks ago (ignoring my mind screaming that the ride was over 8 hours and included breaks and lunch).  Then I started talking to another guy and asked what kind of pace we ride at.  Surely going that far we would have a somewhat moderate pace.  The answer: averaging about 25 mph… sometimes getting up to 30 mph for periods of time.  What have I gotten myself into?!?  I assumed that this ride was a mix of tri and some of the cyclers, whereas we would have two groups, a faster group and a slower group.  Not quite the case.  I figured, what have I got to lose, let’s do it!  That and I didn’t want to be that loser that showed up for a bike ride and then left because it was more than he can handle.  I’ve stood up to every physical challenge I’ve had in this journey so far and I’m not going to turn back now!

The Ride

We started at at a decent pace, about 18 mph.  We had two lines riding with about 20+ riders so I just tried to catch a draft and save as much energy as possible.  At about mile 10 I was still cruising along with everyone.  A couple of casual conversations here and there with the other guys as we rode next to each other.  I was one of the few who didn’t have a Gear-Grinder jersey on, so it was easy to point me out as a newbie.  Probably a good thing in this case.  We get to mile 15 and I hit a wall.  My legs were going as fast as they could, burning with lactic acid and the pack was separating from me.  I got a friendly push from another rider to help get me back in the draft, but it was no use.  I pedaled as hard as I could as I watched the pack quickly distance themselves from me and disappear.  Panic started to settle in.  I had no idea where I was.  I settled on the plan of action that I would re-trace my route and use the sun for guidance as to what direction I was going.  Disappointment came over me as I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to make it.  I decided I would turn at the top of the hill.  As fate would have it, as I came to the top of the hill, there was the entire pack stopped because a couple of guys had flat tires.  I got a nice breather and felt releaved.

After that point, I pushed through as best as I could.  I got some pointers from some other riders and took a few shortcuts with others to keep pace with the group.  I learned that a lot of the riders actually get dropped from the pack when they first start riding.  In fact, this is one of the faster, longer rides that you can find in the area.  That gave me a huge vote of confidence.

Towards the end I began to burn out again.  Klaus and Brendan stayed back with me and lead me through an alternate route.  I greatly appreciated the help and owe both of them a beer.  By the time we arrived, the rest of the guys just about had their bikes packed.  They were heading into the restaurant for a drink.  I took a pass on it this week because I was exhausted.  I stood there loading my bike feeling both defeated and victorious at the same time.  I had thoroughly gotten my ass kicked on the road tonight, but I completed 45.77 miles of the ride at a pace of 18.9 mph.  If you asked me if I could do that this morning, I would have laughed in your face.  Again, my body is capable of much more than I give it credit for! 

Now for our lessons learned section.  I find that it can only get the dramatic attention that it deserves by serving this up Doogie Howser Style…

.:Cue up corny Doogie Howser theme music circa 1992:.doogie

August 12, 2009… The best way to keep improving in athletic activities, such as cycling, is to practice with people who are faster than you… In doing this tonight I learned several valuable lessons: The only way to keep up is to stay in a draft… I am going to be sore tomorrow… Gear-Grinder kicked my ass tonight… And perhaps most importantly… NEVER ASSUME…

Will I do the ride again… You bet!  Next time though… I’m taking a map so I can find my way back until I can keep up


August 12, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , ,

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