Sunday morning looked to have the worst potential weather. While I had grand ambitions to ride 45 miles to get to 200 for the weekend, my legs were tired, and the 155 miles I had in the saddle were tough miles. It was a little misty, but it was in the 50’s for the start so long sleeves and knee warmers, and I opted not to carry a rain jacket.
I have to admit that some complaining that morning about “some people having reasons to want to get home” started to tick me off. I mean, we left Thursday afternoon and were getting home Sunday early evening, it’s not like we had been gone for a week and ridden thousands of miles. Plus, you signed up to come, so why are you complaining when we are doing exactly what the schedule said we were going to do?
After that rant, I should say that I really liked everyone at camp. I mean, some personalities rubbed me differently than others, but there were some seriously strong roadies, and they were some great guys, even to the girl who couldn’t stay on the pace line. Even the guys who didn’t consider themselves roadies were crazy strong. They gave some great advice on how to ride well, especially on longer climbs. There was one older guy who had me laughing so hard that, at times, I thought I was going to pass out. His dead pan humor caught people off guard, but was excellent recovery after some hard riding.
Despite what was stated earlier about going to Nebraska to ride flat, there was one possibility for riding a flat ride… it involved a crushed stone trail. While some of us might not have been overly excited about riding our road bikes on this route, I was willing to risk a flat tire if it meant that there would be no 4+ mile climbs in my future.
The group started off well enough together. Quickly a pace line developed, and I found myself in a position where I couldn’t justify getting dropped off a pace line on what was suppose to be an easy day, but I swear, some guys just can’t take it easy. One guy starts going a little faster, then the next, then the next. Next thing you know, I am struggling to maintain position. Then, about a half hour into the ride, someone got a flat…and no one seemed to bring a spare, except me. I gave up my spare and CO2 cartridge to the person with the flat, but man, I didn’t like that feeling of riding without a spare, I felt like I was riding naked and for someone with severe body image issues like me, that’s a bad feeling!
Eventually, the people on road bikes split from the group with cyclocross & mountain bikes, which was fine by me as the pace was likely to reach what I considered a more reasonable pace. We rode for about another hour after the split then turned around to get back to the hotel.
Now, two people had “Johnny Clayed” it at the beginning of the ride, taking off about 20 minutes before the group. So, shortly after turning around, those gentlemen caught up to the three women riders. I was riding in the back of the group and noticed that something had fallen off someone’s bike. It looked kind large, so I opted to turn around and go back for it. I didn’t call out so the group just kept riding. I discovered that someone had lost not only his cycling glasses but his prescription glasses. The guy who happened to lose said glasses noticed I had stopped and came back to see what was wrong. When I showed him what I found, he was beyond grateful that I stopped and picked it up for him.
He and I then worked together and time trialed it back to the group. Ok, now, I had heard SO complain about this in the past and never really gave him much sympathy until I experienced it myself. Let me tell you, I was beyond pissed. On crushed stone, the riding is slightly more difficult. So, time trialing at 17 mph took a significant effort (especially after 11 hours in the saddle in the last two days). Once we got back to the group, someone felt that “oh, we must be going pretty slowly since they caught back up” and pushed the pace to 18 mph. We both immediately fell back off the line as we were exhausted by the effort we put forth to catch back up, only for them to pick up the pace by 3 mph once we got there. It’s usually customary to maintain pace, at least, after someone has bridged a gap or caught back up. If it’s a more competitive ride, then dropping the hammer and picking up pace is cruel, but smart. This ride was suppose to be EASY and a RECOVERY. While I recognize that it was unintentional, I was absolutely fuming. He wasn’t nearly as angry as I was, but I will admit that part of my anger was frustration that I got dropped by the two other women riders, but neither one of them was pulling so they were just maintaining pace, which as already established, they are both much better at than me.
After getting blown off the line, I finally said F’ it to riding a pace above what I considered easy and comfortable. I stayed with the guy for a while, but eventually, the headwind knocked him back a little. So, I found reasons to stop and kind of wait up for him, like going to the bathroom and checking to see if that noise was a flat tire.
When he caught back up with me after my last bathroom break, I asked him if I could borrow a couple of dollars. While I was the only person to have a spare, I forgot to bring a few bucks with me, and I really wanted a Diet Coke from the general store/gas station/tourist shop. Well, he didn’t have any money with him, but he convinced the lady to let me have a drink and that he would come back later to pay for it (which he did).
The total ride was only about 32 miles (my computer isn’t calibrated correctly so it was probably more like 34 miles) and 2:20 of bike time in which I didn’t eat so the fuming dropped cyclist might have been the hungry bonking cyclist.
Overall, the camp was an excellent experience. It was great riding, great to get critiques on my riding form, and great to meet some amazing people with their own set of challenges facing them. From Ironman distance races to the Leadville Mountain Bike race, we all came into camp for different reasons, but all seemed to leave with the same sense of accomplishment.