Group rides: the Goodr side of being dropped
Updated: Mar 21, 2019
I joined a group ride last minute and lasted less than seven miles. Ouch.
I haven’t conducted any formal research here, but I think there’s about five guys for every gal riding bikes on the roads of Imperial Valley and I don’t love it. But it is what it is.
And what it is, is me being the slowest on pretty much every ride.
I‘m always pumped to get the call, like getting invited to the boys club, and this time was no different, so I put a lid on the soup, turned the stove to a simmer, and rushed to throw on my gear. Blake said he’d keep an eye on dinner, aired up my tires and I was out the door (I’ve been paying it forward for a few weeks, waiting for a chance to cash in).
I figured this ride was going to hurt because I’d been slacking on the trainer and feeling unmotivated without a real training plan during my off season... but I promised myself I wouldn’t complain or try qualifying myself to the other cyclists. It’s a serious problem I have...over apologizing.
I saw the pack and sure enough, I’m the only girl in a group of six, but it didn’t defeat me. I’m used to it. We started riding west and we’re warming up at 19 mph. NINETEEN. For perspective, I’m usually going 15-16.
Past Forrester (translation: the end of the "warm up"), we got onto the rough section of country road and through chattering teeth, they still manage to accelerate to 21 mph! I’m pushing my limits; my legs were burning, even with a tailwind, but I wasn't left behind! My heart was pounding, the road fought to yank the handle bars from my white knuckle grip, and my thirst levels were in the red zone but I knew if I reached down for the bottle, I’d lose it all.
The group started slipping away so I stood up to grind my way back to the last rider. I got the sense that they were going to ride the pace of the leader, regardless of whether I could hold on, and I thought to myself, this is what you asked for. They didn’t care what my excuses were; they respected me enough to treat me the same (or they were ditching me, but that’s less inspiring). Tough love.
The truth is, had they slowed down, or took turns falling back to check on me, I would have felt guilty and probably even self-conscious about being a girl. I might have slipped into over apologizing for my lack of speed and strength despite how proud I was to even start with this group and hold the pace as long as I did. And ultimately I probably would have turned down the next invite.
But instead, they treated me like an equal, and that meant that seven miles in, I was a lone little honey bee.
And that's ok. In fact, it’s better than ok.
I wasn’t angry or hurt, I was motivated. I spent the ride home thinking about how I could build my strength to keep up with these guys. I set a new goal that one day I’d hold pace and even pull the group for some time. And I thought about how sucky the headwind was, and that was motivation in and of itself, because who wants to ride into wind alone? Crazy people. But not me. Because I was going to
phhhttbllleeggghfft bleeeght ftt fttt huuu ppppht
...swallowed a bug. That wouldn’t have happened if I was still drafting...
Special thank to the cyclist community that continue to encourage me to be my best self, without saying anything at all.
And shout out to Ricardo, who did once turn around with me, but was quick to point out it wasn’t because I was a girl headed home alone. It was because he’d drank too much cerveza the night before. I’ll be your excuse anytime!
In other news, I applied to represent Goodr sunglasses as an Ambassador. Not because they’d pay me (they won’t) or because their marketing is hilarious (ok, that was part of it) but because I seriously love these sunglasses! They’re polarized. Their anti-slip coating has not once, NOT EVER slid down my nose. They come in every shade of amazing and THEY’RE TWENTY-FIVE DOLLARS!!!! Imma need a few more colors for Ironman training right??
And these crazy birds let me in their club! I’m so stoked that I’m writing a blog post at midnight! Booyah.