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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

An "A" for effort

The good news: I did Donaldson Center again tonight.

The bad news: I did the A ride.

More good news: I stayed with the group for four laps and even pulled at the front of the group on that fourth lap.

More bad news: I got dropped on the fifth and final lap.

To end on a good note, I wasn't the last person in. After getting dropped, I passed four other riders and finished the last lap about 3 minutes off the pace.

I wasn't planning on doing Donaldson again so soon, but I was told it was great training for the criterium coming up in October. So, I head over after work to do the B ride. John at Sunshine Cycle Shop said I should try the A group. He told me, "Just get on the back and if you get dropped just wait for the B group to catch you and keep going."

I wasn't so sure. I remembered the wisdom found in the book of Proverbs not to go up to the chief seat at the king's table. It is better to take the lower seat and wait for someone to invite you up to the "place of honor." So, I paid my five bucks and got in the B group with my Saturday morning friend Webb.

Then I saw Kirk and Brian up in the A group. They were some of the guys telling me I needed to ride at Donaldson for the training. I rolled over to them and Kirk said he was surprised to see me because he thought I had something else going on. We talked a bit and he said, "Hey, give the A group a try. Just hang on the back." I had heard that somewhere before - I had been invited to the table.

We rolled off. The warm-up lap was a full two minutes faster than last week's B group warm-up. The riding was more aggressive, but smoother. The laps was a little fast for me and I tightened up a bit.

About a third of the way through the second lap I was feeling a lot better. I had shifted into an easier gear and spun some of the tightness away. Now I was settling in. The pace was was about a 17 minute lap of the 7.18 mile circuit. This was starting to be fun.

On lap three I was able to stop thinking about my body and focus on the people around me. I was noticing how riders were jockeying to use the group to protect themselves from the cross winds. I began experimenting with where to place myself.

Lap four found me moving up in the group. There was somewhat of a breakaway in front of us and I was in the chase group. I was riding within myself and feeling pretty good. Without straining I found myself within five riders of the front of the chase group.

That is where my inexperience took over. I didn't know how to handle being up front. When I am up front, all I know to do is pull. I ended up getting used up and then fading back about fifteen riders or so. For a minute or two I was just trying to get myself back together.

That was a big mistake. Even though I was feeling okay by the time we finished lap four, I didn't realize how used up I was. I saw some riders pull off and adjusted my pace not sure what to do. At that point the front ramped it up and a gap formed. Two other riders and myself hammered to hook on to the rear of the group.

That was it. I stayed with the group until the second climb and I just couldn't hang on. As I was being dropped, we rode by my friend Barry who had been in the B group. His arm was all bloody! He must have had a fall. For a moment I thought, I'll just drop back and finish up with him. Then something else inside said to keep pushing.

I pushed and finally recovered about halfway through the lap. I rolled in hitting speeds over 20 mph and up to 23 mph. It felt good to be able to pass some of the other dropped riders.

Next time, I'll do the A group again, but I'll try to be patient and learn from my mistakes. If you are interested in seeing the differences in the A and B group, these tables may help.

Group A lap information for five laps (finished in the final five):
LapTimeDist.M SpdHR/AvgHR/Max
520:22 7.1840.9175183

Group B lap information for five laps (finished in the top four):
LapTimeDist.M SpdHR/AvgHR/Max



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