I decide that it is time to get out there start riding with other people. As much as I like riding alone as well as training alone because you can go as fast as you like or as slow as you like depending on how you are feeling. When riding in a bunch you go as fast as the testosterone that is leading the bunch. My new bike shop does a late bunch ride on a Tuesday night and I have decided that it is now time to join them. My concern is the fact that I will not be on Catalina. There are certain rules that you must adhere to when riding in a pack. Things such as swinging your left arm from the bars to halfway up your back to show that there is an obstruction on your left hand side coming up albeit a car or a curb etc. to calling out when you are braking or slowing down. One of the rules generally is that on a bunch ride such as this, you don't bring a bike with aero bars and if you do, you don't go down on them in the bunch. Why??? Because when you are down on the bars you are not near the brakes and considering that you are about 5-10cm away from the back wheel of the person in front of you and if they suddenly break then you will not have time to react and will be on the ground quicker than they can say "braking!"
I arrive at the shop and say hello to Paul, Mike and Gareth. It is a nice night tonight so I am looking forward to the ride but my only concern is that I will not be able to hang on. If I can't hang on then it is going to be a lonely ride home along the bays. We start out and head down to Freiberg pool. To get there we are having to dodge traffic as well as lights so the real pace will not show itself until we really get going. We all meet up at the pool and before too long we are off. The pace is quick but I am feeling really good. Since the slight adjustments on my old bike have been made I actually feel really good on it. How good I feel will soon reveal itself as the pace has just picked up.
I find myself second from the back. Not the place I would normally like to be but I don't want to be in anyone's way and until I can determine the pace of the pack I am happy to be here. I quickly realise that this is the place to be as the pace has certainly picked up. I am hanging on with no issues and look down to see we are sitting on around 35km an hour as we weave around the bays of Wellington. The way that we are going usually determines what the other half of the ride will be like. Bsaically if you are heading into a tail wind in the first section of the ride, then you have a head wind for the bulk of the ride. We are moving and this is being assisted by the tail wind behind us. Hopefully when we hit the turn into the headwind I will still be able to hang on. We hit the turn and the pace quickens a little bit more as the big boys hit the front of the pack to drive into the wind. I now find myself at the back of the pack with another person next to me and I am doing everything to stay on it. I look across and meet Dee who is Mike's girlfriend for the first time. I ask her if this is the normal pace and she says that it depends who is on the front. Whoever is on the front is seriously going for it.
Just as quickly as we are going for it we slow down and bring the pack back to a normal speed. It is good to see as there is nothing worse than when you fall of the back of a pack and then spend the rest of the ride on your own. This pack does go for it but wait to bring the pack back together. We hit a flat section before we go up a slight incline. Dee warns me that the pace is about to pick up again. She is right, there is a sprint to the top of the hill and everyone is going for it. I stay at the back and although feel I can go faster, have no idea of what is to come so decide to pace myself. I am not at the back anymore, I am obviously a little stronger on the hills than some but I am also no where near the front including Mike who has proven himself as a hill specialist. We hit the top of the hill and descend back down the other side before we reform again. The pack has again waited and we continue with each other until we hit another flat section before it is flat out again. This continues until we hit the bottom of a huge climb that goes for around 2-3km. It is one of those never ending climbs where you just have to get into a rhythm and go for it. As soon as we hit the flat section the same people that jumped for the previous climb are at it again. Before I know it, they are long gone and I am in for a long climb by myself. I am halfway up and I can sense someone behind me. I am not sure who it is but they go past me and tell me to jump on the back of their tyre. Attached to them is Dee and attached to Dee is someone else. We now have a train that has formed and we are all hanging on for dear life. This is the part that I enjoy about being in a pack. In this situation all you want to do is stop as your legs are burning but you know that it will be all the bit harder if you are dropped so you hang on. You don't let that wheel in front of you no matter what. As they say in cycling it is like an elastic band is attached to the person in front of you. You can let it stretch a little but when it snaps say goodbye to the person in front of you.
We hit the top and again everyone is waiting for each other. We have a drink and a snack and then we descend down to the city. Victoria is away this week so I have the car at work. I ride back to work and put the bike away before heading home. I swam 2.5km this morning so by the time I get home I am shattered. It was an awesome way to finish the day and after I have had something to eat I crash in bed enjoying a well deserved sleep.
Below is my bay ride information.
Bay Night Ride by IronmanBarefoot at Garmin Connect - Details