I went on a 15 mile bike ride today. That’s the longest ride I’ve been on by a significant margin. My second largest ride was only 10 miles. There are two major rides beginning in Sea.ttle every year: Seattle to Portland (STP) and Seattle to Vancouver. The largest bicycle club in the area, Cas.cade Bicycle Club, offers a training course to prepare called the Cascade Training Series. They offer four pace groups, from 12 to 14 mph on flats to 18 to 20 mph on flats. In order to take the course, you must be able to go 12 to 14 mph for 25 miles. Apparently, you work up to a “century” – a 100 mile ride. I have no real interest in riding one of the two major rides this summer; they are both 200 mile rides, and I can’t really see being in that kind of shape. I’m not sure I would enjoy riding that far. However, I would really like to get better at bicycling, so I can see enrolling in the training series. However, I’m honestly not sure I could ride 25 miles at any pace – I mean, I’ve never tried. It seems like a long way. Enter the GR.2R series – Getting ready to Ride. They start at 10 mph over 16 miles, which seems very doable. They have groups that go our around the area, and the series starts this weekend. I am way overbooked tomorrow, so I am using that as an excuse not to join the group. (Joining a group is more intimidating to me than cycling a long distance on my own. It seems stressful for all kinds of reasons, but I’m sure it would be good for me.) Anyway, they publish the rides they are planning to do, so I rode the planned ride today that the group will do tomorrow.
The cue sheet has about a gazillion turns, so although I’m familiar with the area from running, I kept having to stop and try and figure out which way to go. I got slightly lost a couple times, and the route-finding aspect of the ride was highly annoying. On the flip side, the course was dead flat, and it was so, so different that my rides around Newcastle have been. On my Newcastle rides, my quads are usually screaming at me half the time (on all the uphill sections). I’m also usually broiling hot and sweating on the uphills, and freezing cold and clammy on the downhills. When I finish a ride, even the 6 mile ride I did last week, I feel like I’m going to keel over. Today, on the other hand, when I wasn’t getting lost, I felt completely relaxed and not really tired at all. According to Strava, I averaged about 12 mph, which is pretty slow. (I’m in the bottom 10% on most Strava segments.) I’m still encouraged, though, because I felt so comfortable. I think I could definitely go faster if I was more confident in the route. I thought it was interesting that I noticed small discomforts like my hands being sore and my butt being sore (maybe I should look into this chamois thing) that I’m normally completely oblivious to because my legs are so sore and tired. I also didn’t have to change gears much. On the hilly rides in Newcastle, I’m constantly changing gears. On the flats, I could just cruise and not think about much.
I’m excited to try the next ride next week. I may be able to go with the group, but we’ll see. It’s L’s birthday on Saturday, so it’ll be a busy weekend.