Sunday, February 15, 2009

Riding With the Pros Part 3 – OMG!

So Karen and I waited at the staging area and watched the riders arrive. We were told that the bank needed a couple riders from the employee team to ride with the customers and make sure they were ok. We figured we were here for the casual riders who even though they’re only “Weekend riders” didn’t want to pass up an opportunity to ride with the Rabobank professional riders. We had yet to see one of these riders.

Everyone was in top shape (even though it was the beginning of February and there was no light past 5pm). When are these guys riding enough to be so … Their bikes were high end and legs shaved that’s how serious these guys were about biking. I mean I had the hairiest legs out there of anyone! And I’m a girl!

Speaking of which. There were no other females than Karen and I. Except two others and one was a nurse that was hired to ride in case of emergency. What the h*ll!

Coach Bill arrived and after introducing myself, I immediately shared my concern with the un-marked route. Bill’s been coaching biking for the Team In Training for several years he’s a veteran. And as luck would have it the Salinas/Monterey area was an old stomping ground of his.

“Don’t worry. I know how to get to Monterey from here. We’ll be fine.”

So we all assembled, had pictures taken and we were off.

We set off through Salinas neighborhoods on our way out of town. It was great! We had 50 riders in all and most of us were in the bright orange Rabobank cycling jerseys. We must have looked serious because as we rode by, people out in their yards waved and cheered us on. Cars would honk and passengers would hang out the windows and cheer us as they passed. It was fun!

We were going at a good clip and I was able to keep up. But I knew I was fresh and we were on the flats. I do pretty well on the flats. But I knew I couldn’t keep this pace up for long. I knew I should slow down. But I was having fun.

We got out of town and onto a piece of highway that rolled past farm fields. Much like the roads I’m used to in Santa Maria. Then we hit a head wind much like I’m used to.

In Santa Maria it seems like the wind blows from all directions at the same time. When we are out riding into a head wind we can’t say, “Don’t worry, we’ve got a turn coming up soon.” Because when you make the turn, you’re going into another head wind. Not sure how that works. But that’s just the way it is in SM.

So this was not a problem. The problem came when we hit our first hill.

It was a decent hill. Not particularly long or particularly steep. Just pretty long and pretty steep. But it was definitely not the worse hill I’ve had to climb. But I was instantly dropped.

I suddenly was watching every other rider sail up the hill as if they had all turned on their rocket thrusters at the same time. They were quickly becoming a dense group of small specks in the distance.

My bike club in Santa Maria has “No Drop” rides. This means that weaker riders are not “dropped” or left behind. But at least one or two riders stay back with the slower rider and the rest of the group will “stop and gather” at pre-determined points on the route. So everyone re-groups along the way.

Here, “No Drop” means you will not drop off the back of the group. You will stay with the group.

Malcolm X style –

By any means necessary.

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