Saturday, August 25, 2012

What goes around comes around

So, I’ve been riding Thursday evenings with some members of the Cleveland Touring Club. It’s nice to get out with a group especially since drafting behind another rider allows one to conserve up to a third of the energy expended while cycling. This way I can average a good two to three miles an hour better time than when I am riding alone. This is a good group for me – they push me just a bit so I am getting stronger on the 25-30 mile rides.  But just like Greg Lemond said – it never gets easier – you just go faster.

Couple things about this ride – first off for the most part everyone is around my age (50) – there are a couple younger folks who show up every now and then but mostly it’s a 50 and up crew. Even so we move along at a decent clip – averaging 19 to 21 mph, which isn’t going to set any records but is respectable. Secondly, we ride out of Madison, Ohio. A pretty rural area  bordered on the North by Lake Erie and at the South by vineyards, bisected by the Grand River.

Anyway the two things that stood out for me so far this season riding with these guys.

When one is riding with a group it is important that the rider stay connected to the group. As I said above - drafting behind another rider allows one to conserve up to 30% of the energy they would otherwise use. In order to take advantage of this slipstream one must be within two feet or less of the wheel in front of them. This requires communication amongst the group and taking turns being the person out front pulling the rest of the pace line behind.  Lose the wheel of the rider in front of you and you are at risk of being dropped. Once you’re dropped it is pretty hard to catch up again.

For the most part these rides are no drops – which means we will regroup every now and then and wait for folks to catch up. Other times the group might split into two if there are enough riders to warrant it. One evening a couple weeks back we had a new guy show up to ride. After about five or six miles we looked back and saw we had lost him – he had been dropped. I was feeling pretty good and said to the other three or four riders that I would ride back and see if I could spot him. One of the others in in the group said – “Yeah go ahead you’re young.’ I replied that I wasn’t that young being 50 years old and all. How old are you? I asked this guy. 70, he said. That’s who I want to be – that 70 year old guy riding along and keeping up with the folks 20 -30 years younger than him.

Second thing. Last Thursday we rode through the vineyards and the fruit was ripe and it smelled like someone was firing grape juice over our heads with a fire hose.  There were just three of us –zooming along an otherwise empty rode cutting through the sweet air like low soaring hawks. I think cycling is the closest one can get to flying without leaving the ground.


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