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In the fall of 2013 I was invited to join a group ride through a cycling shop in town. I’m not the fastest rider, and biking scares me a little bit (especially in large groups), so I held off on going all fall. Then I went into the bike shop to get my back tire changed (since the tread was rubbed off due to the constant rubbing on the trainer), and the guy invited me to join the ride. I told him my average pace, and he said they had a slower group that I’d be fine riding with.

I got there on Tuesday (this was May 20th), and was the only female there. Everyone else looked like they were solid riders, and I was sitting there in my running shoes and my white and pink helmet. I felt ridiculous, but also couldn’t help but laugh at how silly I was in the middle of this group of solid male riders. Luckily right before the ride started another female came in, and she stuck with me. She said her average pace was in the 15 mile range, and I said that right now most of my rides are about 14 but I wanted to get faster.

Within a few miles we were dropped by the male riders (see- I’m so glad she showed up or I would’ve been stranded out in the country on roads I don’t know!), but we had a great time riding together. Around mile 10 I stopped to get some sports beans. At this point I really realized my mistake. When I’m on my trainer in the winter, I usually went through about 16 ounces of water and no fuel for a 20 mile ride. However, the bike trainer doesn’t have wind resistance or hills, so it wasn’t as intense. I had grabbed about 20 ounces of water and a half a packet of sports beans before I headed out the door, and that was clearly not enough.

By mile 15 I was almost completely out of water and felt really depleted. The woman that I was with had forgotten fuel as well, so we were stuck. I kept trying to power through as best as I could. The last 4 miles I rode with another guy in the group who had also hit a wall due to a lack of fuel (clearly it’s the start of the season and we’re all trying to remember what we need to bring), so it was a struggle-fest for us as we got back to the shop.

These rides intimidate me. They are FAST, but I also know that, as I stick with the woman who is faster than I am, I can also get faster. When I got back to my car, I realized that perhaps my pace had something to due with why I sort of hit the wall during my ride: I was hitting 14.5-15.5 mph while on hills, with wind. While this is great to push myself, 20 miles at this pace when I’m not used to it at all, and only my 2nd ride on the road for the year, was a little rough. I’ll be back, but it’ll have to wait a few weeks because of my upcoming half marathon.

At least the next 20 miler I did brought a little redemption

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