Finding my Power in Numbers

I have a magnet on my fridge with this quote from Eleanor Roosevelt, and I look at it nearly every day in the morning without a second thought. But I finally faced one of my many fears yesterday. I rode in a group! Having heard stories from my boyfriend, who has way more experience than me, and also watching Tour de France for the last couple years among other high profile races, I was a pretty scared about riding with a bunch of other people.

This was my only frame of reference, so naturally I was a bit freaked out!

This was my only frame of reference, so naturally I was a bit freaked out!

I didn’t want to join a group that was going at a leisurely pace. I can do that on my own, and do every day when I commute, just fine. I wanted a challenge but I was scared about getting spit out the back or worse, causing a crash because I don’t know how to conduct myself in a group. On top of this, my positioning on my road bike is wonky and I have too much weight on my hands. So its a struggle letting go of even one hand to signal a pothole. I’m much more upright on my commuter bike, so I can signal just fine….but the bike is probably 30ish lbs so I’m not going to be taking her on any group rides!

Last week I went into a bike shop I had heard great things about. I liked how one of their fitters and co-owners is a woman, and I knew they had lady specific rides too. So I walked in, and ended up scheduling a bike fit almost immediately because I just got such an awesome vibe from them. I also enquired about their rides, and promised I’d make an appearance yesterday.

And I Did!

I drank an extra bold Dark Magic coffee, downed a bunch of water, ate a cliff bar, and headed to the ride shaking like a leaf and nearly peeing my pants.  I had been told that the ladies rides had been getting really big, and they were splitting into 2 groups: a slower group and a faster group lead by some of the bike shop’s road cycling team ladies. I planned to stick with the slower group, but knew I’d get competitive and try my luck with the faster group.

But as it turned out, the group was small yesterday, which I think worked in my favor because I wasn’t overwhelmed with people. It was 2 leaders, 1 sweep, and 5 of us riders. They were all so very nice, I felt very welcomed, and they seemed genuinely interested in not spitting me out the back. Best of all, I was probably one of the stronger riders in the group. It was super empowering for me to hear the leader say to me and another young lady “You guys can go ahead and hit this segment hard since you seem to have the energy!”.

But we decided to take it easy the rest of the time, because there were a couple stragglers and I felt bad getting too up ahead of them. After all, it was my first group ride and I was going into it afraid that exact thing was going to happen to me.

IMG_0109Overall, we hit a few hills, I PR’ed on a couple strava segments, and the whole while I felt great and like I still had plenty left in thIMG_0110e tank to give.

As it turned out, I did have more to give. After getting home and feeling awesome I went on a night stroll with Nate, hitting up some trails that look mighty creepy in the dark. And then we stopped for a treat, because I had essentially ridden 5 times that day (with commuting and all) so a black hole had formed in my stomach 😛

Riding in a group definitely gets my competitive juices flowing, and made my usual speeds feel downright easy. But I was glad to see I could hold that beast back and just enjoy it. I’ll be joining them again, and hope to branch out to harder rides where I can let the animal inside me out. *ROAR*

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3 thoughts on “Finding my Power in Numbers

    • Yes! I surprisingly felt pretty comfortable getting up close to people. Just gotta be careful with and learn when to and when to not break. Overlapped wheels a couple times and got scared we were gunna collide. All part of the learning process I suppose!

      • It is. Try this too, look two or three riders ahead, not just at the wheel in front of you. Also, if you’re having an easy go of it, you also don’t have to be right on the wheel in front of you. A foot back, even two if the group is big enough, won’t hurt and that’ll get you used to how you have to react.

        Watch for people “standing” on their pedals to adjust their position, most people don’t speed up first so they drift back fast (it’ll scare you the first forty times it happens). Just relax, no sudden moves.

        And remember, this isn’t the tour… Even the advanced 20 mph groups aren’t like that (at least none that I’ve seen). We all want to get home uncrashed.

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