Thursday, July 31, 2014

Thursday Night Liberty Ride

I want to take a moment to try to define the undefinable. 

 People ask me periodically about this ride: is it fast? Do we regroup? Are there sprints?  etc.   I try to talk about pace,  what the avg is etc,  but there are so many answers that should start with, "It depends".

It depends on who shows up, the weather, how many show up, if there was  a Ring Of Fire the night before, if there is a race coming up.  So many possibilities.

The ride has been compared to Tuesday Night Worlds,  both on the river and in Etowah.  While those are great rides, and have purpose,  this ride is different.  This is a fast paced spirited ride, and one will have a difficult time trying to control it.

Here are some general guidelines on what to expect, join us only if you intend to have fun while being challenged.

The Group:
Lots of really strong folks, guys and girls show up for this ride.  I have made a lot of good friends, people who really care about others, and who want to see cycling progress as a sport.  It is a mix of pro level racers, to amateur racers, to some who don't race road at all.    The one commonality that I have seen from the group, is that we are not there to intentionally drop anyone and there is a thread of caring, where we watch out for others on the ride.  To the point of occasionally easing the pace, if someone is lagging.  Especially if that person is someone who regularly contributes to the group.  We want to go fast, to get stronger, to learn how to handle the bike better.

General Guidelines:
No Drop Ride:
This ride has been billed as a "No Drop Ride".  Sometimes people do get dropped.  Sometimes people sign on to the fast group, when they don't have the fitness to be in that group.  Its a bit of a common sense thing.  I feel like anyone has the right to ride, but if you don't have the fitness, then don't expect the entire group to wait on you.  The A group will wait,  just not for long,  which is fine with me.  If I get dropped and they don't wait, well I'll try again next week.  The B group will wait longer.  So if you get there and the A group is gone,  wait for the B group!

Believe it or not,  there are no "Sprint Zones".  Yes, there are several places where the pace typically, but not always, picks up.  There are also  places where people give it a go and try to go off the front, or sprint.  Most of the time, but not all of the time,  the rest of the group follows.  But,  every once in a while,  no one sprints, the pace stays steady and everyone chats away,  quietly wondering if someone is going to go, but hoping they won't.   And then there are the random place where someone will go for the surprise attack,   just some random place on the route.  Just to keep it interesting. This is a much more organic, grassroots feel than a lot of rides.  ( not better, just different).

Don't Be A Jerk:
This one is self explanatory.  Respect the other rides, take a turn or two at the front.  Don't suck wheels and then try to take the sprint.  These methods won't garner any respect.  Point out potholes or obstacles.  Obey traffic laws, ( we can all improve here).  Take a turn or two at the front,  unless you don't have what it takes, but then don't try to take the sprint..... 

What To Expect (ie. look forward to) or not expect:

Expect to get worked.  Expect to fell like you are going to explode, to hang on for dear life.  Expect to take a pull at the front now and then.  Expect the unexpected.  Expect friendly people, quiet people, people who care.  Expect to go fast and be ok with getting dropped.  Don't expect to be coddled.  Don't expect for the group to wait if you don't have the overall fitness to keep up. (in that case,  expect the B group to scoop you up).

And this just scratches the surface of what really happens on the ride.   The thing is,  last year,   I struggled with the group.  I wanted to see an organized, rotating paceline type of group that catered to the fast and the less fast.  I wanted to see everyone working together, as  a well oiled machine,  everyone taking equal pulls.  Going fast enough that the slowest could keep up, but slow enough that the fastest still got a workout.  And I got burned out.

This year, I stopped trying to control, trying to put what I wanted on the group.  What I realized is that what we have is a well oiled machine,  out there being what it is, and doing what it does.  Week after week, we go out,  get faster,  challenge each other.  Once I let go of my ideals,  I started having a lot of fun...... undefinable fun.

See you on Thursday!

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