Today I (once again!) found out just how much is too much for my IT band/left knee.
From previous experience I know that I can ride three hours if the pace is not wicked fast. Looking for something longer and wanting company I did a bit of research meaning I talked to Jim Kodjababian last Tuesday when we were doing stairs and asked him what the Saturday Fisher Plumbing Cycling Team ride was like. Jim said it would not be fast so I hooked up with Rick Benson the ride organizer, got the start time/location and showed up.
Boy was I wrong, on ALL counts.
DISCLAIMER - I also found out I all too easily fall into the role of salty old cycling know-it-all; aka the guy that thinks he's constantly right and can't give the new guy a break. Oh well, I choose not to fight my assigned role in the grand scheme of things.
Before I get started with this rant let me say that it was a beautiful day. There were still pretty leaves on the ground (meaning they had not all turned to brown mush yet), it was dry out, it was not too cold and I can think of a million worse ways to spend my Saturday.
That said, here is what happened.
I had not ridden my rain bike in ages! As I pulled it down off the wall not only were the tires very flat, there was dust all over the bike. I hung it in the repair stand and got busy. In addition to airing up the tires I also wiped off the chain, chainrings, jockey wheels and then oiled the chain again. I even checked the brakes. Oops...
My front brake was not working properly, one of the front disc brake pads kept wanting to grab the rotor as the wheel spun and it was creating a lot of drag. I backed the pad out with the adjuster knob and rolled away hoping this would solve the problem. On the way to the Leschi Starbucks the brakes grabbed many more times and each time it just took a flick of the front brake lever but what a major annoyance! When I got to Leschi I backed off the front brake one more turn of the adjuster knob.
I met Rick and about six other people and we rolled out.
Right away I could tell this was not what I had signed up for. We left Starbucks at 20 mph and as we got on the I-90 bridge, Rick promptly dropped all but one of us as he dialed it up to something close to 25 mph. Eventually the front two slowed a bit allowing me (with everyone behind me) to catch up but when the bridge tipped up as we hit Mercer Island I got dropped for real and everyone behind me came around and suddenly I was solo. Nice.
Not only was my front brake still rubbing a lot, I was just not fit enough to hang!
Lucky for me the next stop was the Mercer Island Park & Ride. The eventual slowing of the front bunch plus me working really hard let me join up once again.
At the Park & Ride I got to listen to all the usual (read: lame) conversations that all people who are relatively new to a physical activity have. Ride stories, blah, blah, blah, equipment nuances, blah, blah, blah, "I could have won such-and-such a race but I [insert excuse of the day here]", "my [insert some manufacturer's bike part here] weighs less than [insert some other manufacturer's equivalent bike part here]"; I felt like making myself throw up.
But I was here for a group ride and talking does taper off as rides get longer so I opted to stick it out for a bit. I also backed my front brake adjuster off one more click... For sure there was no way would I be able to hang with this thing dragging this much.
As we rolled out the group confirmed a suspicion I had. First of all the first person to leave would take off like they were riding alone. We were about 15 people by now and they never once looked over a shoulder, checked to see if everyone was still around, etc., etc. We were not racing by any means but this was not conducive to keeping the group intact by any stretch of the imagination.
Did I mention that on every incline some guy would accelerate and drop everyone else? Don't get me started... Oops, too late. :)
On our way east we rode along the 520 trail. This is a mixed use path along the north side of the freeway and connects Bellevue with Redmond. There were a lot of joggers out on this beautiful day and at one point we had to pass some that were running three abreast. At the next stop light I heard one of the guys in our group say something like, "I almost yelled at those runners to stop hogging the trail!"
Really...?! You did what you self-inflated, blinder-wearing, nothing-matters-to-me-except-for-the-sport-I-happen-to-be-interested-in, punk-ass, (probably) category 4 racer? I actually turned to him and said, "You were going to say WHAT?" To which he somewhat sheepishly and with a confused look on his face replied, "I said I felt like it, I didn't do it..." Someone at the Cascade Bicycle Club needs to hire this guy in a PR position stat. I managed to bite my tongue and let it drop.
As we rolled down into Redmond (where we were going to pick up some more people) it turns out we were 30 minutes early! Gee, seems like this ride started 30 minutes later last year but we were told to meet earlier this year but the Redmond meeting time didn't change. The solution? A loop through Redmond so we could drop more people at traffic lights because the leader rolled through as they were changing.
We finally got to Marymoor Park where we picked up one(!) person but still had to sit around for 15 minutes because we arrived so far ahead of schedule.
ASIDE - we finally ended up leaving ahead of schedule too. Here's hoping no one else was actually planning on joining us because if they were they were SOL.
At the park I got to listen to a scintillating discussion about 'recovery drinks'. Some guy was comparing and contrasting one brand to another and excitedly blurted that, "If these things do what they say they will, I'll be able to ride another 30-40 miles tomorrow!" Oh. My. God.
Finally, we were out of there.
Luckily my front brake was not dragging any longer. Sometimes it's the little things.
At the very FIRST intersection with a light (the one leaving the park!) we dropped half the group because we were going too fast or no one was paying attention and didn't bother to grab a wheel. So what did everyone do? They milled about in the middle of a side street effectively blocking traffic. Thank goodness a semi truck happened by and the air horn managed to rouse everyone sufficiently and they s l o w l y moved out of the road to where I was waiting. Is it really that hard...? Obviously sometimes (or for some people) it is.
After we regrouped and got out of Redmond this kid goes to the front and ramps it up. Of course no one is paying attention and within about 100 meters he, one other guy and myself are WAY off the front. I'm thinking 1) I don't want to ride this fast, 2) I can't ride this fast for very long and 3) is this kid ever going to pull his head out, err... turn his head around? Did I mention it's the same cycling ambassador that I had a conversation with on the 520 trail?
After this acceleration we came to a climb. Kid gets replaced by old-guy-who-doesn't-race-but-needs-to-assert-climbing-prowess-to-feed-weak-ego at the front and those at the very back who were already on the verge of losing sight of the leaders are now properly out of sight and out of mind. At least as far as 90% of this group is concerned.
I'll take this opportunity to give Rick some kudos that I'm hoping are deserved. He actually waited with the last couple of riders for as long as he deemed prudent in hopes that they would (by an act of God perhaps?) speed up. When they didn't he left them behind - I'm assuming he asked them if this was okay first - and raced back up to us. Then again, when he arrived he didn't tell us to slow down the pace or at least to try and stay together or even that thy the hapless riders behind had told us to go on ahead, he just proudly announced that, "I just had to ride a 2 km TT to catch you guys!" Good times on the 'group' ride.
At this point I was shaking my head.
On the upside my legs were warming up and although this somewhat surging pace was not easy for me, I was no longer on the rivet as they say. I decided I would just watch out for #1, stick to the front of this group and to hell with everyone behind. Besides, it wasn't MY ride, if this is what everyone wanted/expected/tolerated, who was I to say otherwise?
And so we carried on. At each hill one (usually the same person) or two people would ride ahead of everyone else, there was no rhyme or reason to the flow or paceline (and I use that term very loosely) and most of the bunch - including of course Mr. Cycling Ambassador himself - were frequently riding three abreast seemingly oblivious to automobiles. I just stayed in the top three and kept to the shoulder.
Finally, after descending into the Carnation Valley I turned to Rick and said I was through. I told him this ride was not what I had been looking for today, wished him a good time and told him I was going to find my own way home.
After asking me if I know the way home(?!) I told Rick the route I intended to ride and wouldn't you know it, he was planning on going the same way. He also announced that that the group should 'keep it steady' and 'take short pulls'. I almost blurted out that the length of the pull was not the problem and barely avoided being Captain Asshole. Of course this blog post might just be picking up the slack in that area...
As I tried to make my exit the group caught me and since the pace did indeed seem more reasonable I slotted in thinking I'd give it one more shot.
All the way into Carnation and riding south past the golf course things went swimmingly. As we crossed the road and began to head up Old Issaquah-Fall City Road I even went to the front in an attempt to lead by example. No dice. First one guy passed me, then another 'bridged' up to him and then I was solo again.
At the next intersection just past Duthie Hill the front runners had to wait as they had dropped a few of their friends and so I simply rolled past and carried on by myself.
I was laughing to myself as I'm usually the guy that is always looking for company! Today riding alone was working out much better. For a change I went my pace and took my route and didn't have to keep up or wait or feel like all drivers were hating me.
This nirvana lasted almost all the way back to West Lake Sammamish Pkwy when my quads cramped up. Yikes! Seems like that overly aggressive pace (for me at least) was catching up to me and I had to ratchet things down. Luckily the cramps eased quickly and I was able to keep rolling. It did lead me to take a shortcut thought, I figured the quickest route home would be smart.
On the way back I kept looking around every few minutes wondering if the pack was going to close me down. On Mercer Island it finally happened. By now the 'pack' was just two people, Rick and Mr. Hill Climber. These guys dropped me climbing up to the path that crosses the bridge, waited for me at the start of the bridge and then dropped me again as I-90 climbs up to the west tunnel. Then we went our separate ways.
I forgot to mention that shortly after my cramp I realized that my IT band was making itself known. Drat. I guess the effort and the length of this ride was too much for me. What to do? I had to limp it home.
After getting off my bike I realized just how much too much this ride was, my knee hurt. :(
What did I learn today? Lots.
- Be careful when you exercise longer! Having a way to bail would be ideal.
- Maybe hold off on the group rides. Or at least go with a much smaller group. Or one that includes people I know.
- Be okay with the fact that some people will read this and be offended. I only knew two people on this ride anyway so odds are high that I won't lose any friends. Perhaps I'm being naïve? Whatev.
|Workout Food||1.5 large bottles each w/2 scoops HEED, Hammer Bar, 1 flask of Hammer Gel|
|Time of Day||7:45 AM|
|Workout Type||endurance (supposedly)|
|Weather||upper 40s to start, 50 at the finish, dry, calm, mostly cloudy|
|Time||total time - 4:14|
moving time - 3:44
|Equipment||Redline Conquest Pro, Garmin Edge 500|
|Clothing||knit shoe covers, Santini leg warmers, bib shorts, Craft long sleeve undershirts, short sleeve jersey, arm warmers, wind vest, OR Gripper gloves, cap|