Photo by Jason DeVarennes

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Not a fun day out!

Yes. I am back on my bike.

But no. I am not back.

And my most recent ride pretty much proved that...

Since given the clearance to ride by my doctor, I've been on some rides with John, some rides on my own, and some rides with a few select friends, here and there. My confidence is very shaky in terms of being able to keep up with others, and the climbs that I once sought out eagerly now seem to mock me, so I've been hesitant to go on group rides.

I have been trying to build up gradually. But with all that's been going on over the last few months, my return has been sporadic.  And now I seem to have plateaued at rides of 90-100 kilometers, what to the casual observer may seem like a long ride, but to my former self, was a walk in the park.

The problem with coming back from an injury or time away for any reason, is that we remember what we used to do. And for me the memory is fresh. Normally at this time of year, I've already done a few 200km and 300km rides. A year ago, I was training away for a fixed gear fleche ride of over 400km in 24 hours in mid May. And I was excited about climbing lots of mountains and maybe breaking the 1.5 hour barrier on Mt Washington after coming so close the year before.

Have patience, grasshopper. I've lost a lot of core and leg strength and it's just going to take time to get that back. I totally get that.

I remember these previous rides and the siren calls to me. But I cannot answer... yet.

I tore up any plans I had for this year and am really just taking things one ride at a time. Every ride for me is a new milestone. The clock is definitely ignored. It's just about having fun ... in the sun - well it'd be nice to have some sun again, but so far it's just been wishful thinking!

The tandem has been great, as tandems tend to be, by allowing me to hang with a group that otherwise would leave me in the dust. And now that the woods are finally free of snow, I've been enjoying getting out on some trails for some quiet rides, albeit with quite a bit of hiking over the bumpier stuff.

So a few weeks ago I'd reached a point where I was feeling ready to resume my Tuesday social rides with friends.

I put this disclaimer on the Tuesday rides page to be sure that folks would know to expect a more relaxed pace with more frequent and longer stops.


Tuesday rides resume. The fixie pixie is riding again. I'm slower and keeping the distances down for now. Shocker: I am driving to and from rides. Lunch stops are even more important than ever, as a chance for me to stretch and rest and I usually need another short break partway back from lunch. If you are willing to tolerate a mellower pace and help me in my recovery, please join me. Warning: If you drop the ride leader, you will be publicly shamed and not invited back. 


The first Tuesday ride landed on a dreary day and I had just one person join me for half the ride and another met me at the lunch spot. Last week, we had glorious weather and quite a few folks came out for a ride that was a bit shorter and flatter than the usual fare. It went well. I had plenty of company and the group stayed together.

But yesterday didn't go so well. It was cold. The ride was back to my usual Tuesday distance and usual Tuesday hills. It was cloudy and misty and cold. Despite that, quite a few folks showed up. However they seemed to want to go hard to stay warm.

I got dropped.


Every time the road pitched up. 

Not a fun day out.

I wonder... If I rub tuna on my legs, will the cats play with me?


  1. All normal riders have to do a "reset" like this on a regular basis, due to job, kid, and other disruptions to a riding regimen. So thus will be interesting to observe and learn from. Each day should be chronicled in detail. Everyone can benefit from this. I feel lucky to get 3K miles in, in a season, but it never, ever has gone smoothly. Even a single year can seem to have several "start-overs", due to weather, outside obligations, the tug of domestic life, etc., or any combination if same.
    So go for it, and bring us along.

  2. There's a huge gap in group rides -- there's very, very little out there for people who can't hold 15mph (overall) but are intentionally trying to get faster. There's 10mph touring rides, where speed is intentionally not the goal, and there's some recovery/social rides in the 12-15 range (like your Tuesday series) but they tend to be full of people who can go a lot faster and thus don't meet the needs of people who are going flat-out at that speed -- when the road pitches up, everyone drops the hammer and it out for a few minutes, but if one is already at that effort level, there's nowhere left to go but off the back.

    Also, you're faster than me *now* on hills, so if you would like to drop me repeatedly to improve your confidence, I'd be happy to oblige some weekend. :)

    If I had more free time, I've often thought I should try to organize a recurring ride at that speed, but I can't commit to being around enough.


  3. You will get there Pamela, don't despair!

    And as Sarah says, I too have noticed this problem with group rides in the Boston area. I've found very little out there with 12-15mph average rolling speed and even rides advertised as such will often break into a much faster and much slower group, with no one going at a moderate pace.

  4. Randonneurs FelinesMay 1, 2014 at 10:02 AM

    If you ask Seven to build a tandem or triple that will accommodate feline riders, we will cycle with you Pamela!

    1. On several occasions we have encountered a bike rider at the Brattleboro co-op with his cat sitting on his shoulders for the ride! I think Fear Rothar and Izzi are training to do this someday. Izzi spends endless time on John's shoulders around the house. Next step is to go out for the ride!

  5. The thing I have tried to do with the Tuesday rides is to have a fun social 12-15 mph ride, and to keep the group together and chatty and fun - and to have awesome lunches. In the past, Ive had reasonable luck with controlling the pace, and keeping things fun. We usually let it hang out on one of two hills, but for the most part, try to keep things together. It can be hard when we get an outlier, on either end. And I have on a few occasions split the group to stay with someone in the deep end. Because of the distance involved, it's rare to get a new rider who is too slow for the group to adapt and still finish the ride before dinner!

    But here's the thing. If you are friends, or if you are just becoming friends, it shouldn't be an issue to adjust pace and ride along WITH someone and talk. The point of the ride isn't the ride. The bike is simply the means for spending the day with your friends.

    It wasn't so much that *I* was slow on Tuesday. My average at the end of the ride really wasn't that much slower than a typical April Tuesday ride. What was disappointing to me was how non-social the ride was.

    At this stage I need positive energy to fuel my recovery. I get that I can/will get dropped on other rides. But on this occasion it was like the protagonist in "It's my party and I'll cry if I want to". Don't do it on MY ride.