bikingandbaking: photo of my road bike with a tag reading "51" on it (Default)
Finally had a chance to get to Gene's Chinese Flatbread Cafe and get the weekend-only chilled noodles, too. Yum.

The ride rolled out a few minutes late, me fighting to get my GPS to start (and I managed to fail to start it recording, but it did give me friendly beepy prompts that were about 95% correct). I do need to figure out why it sometimes decides I'm on the wrong road when I'm not, but it's mostly really nice.

But I didn't need it at all, because I hooked onto the tail of the giant group as it launched itself up the Mass Ave hill, and stayed on. I'd been expecting to get dropped there and to have a great, solo, ride, perhaps seeing some people on their way out of the lunch stop. Nope. The group strung out, but I ended up in a pack of 6-or-8 (a pack of two came and went). Specifically, a pack of 6 including the route designer, so there was really no possibility of getting lost.

Riding a brevet-style ride in a group was a different experience; I am not super-used to pack riding, although I did a women's group ride with Landry's last summer. I'm never sure when it's OK to pass and when it's not in these loose pack confederacies. (We did do a little paceline work with the Landry's group ride, and while that's tough, the rules are clear and I know how to do it. This wasn't a paceline, but a chatting amoeba slithering up and down the rolling hills.)

The key issue is that, while my average speed had me able to stay with the group, I was, as usual, the slowest climber. Not by a horrible amount, but by a significant bit on anything other than a little short-steep rise. I was sprinting to take the climbs at my top speed so that people didn't have to wait for me too long, but it was tough. Especially since I was braking on the downhills a lot to keep with the pack in the opposite direction. (240ish pounds (me + bike + gear) is a lot of momentum, and I usually take more advantage of it.) I did open 'er out a bit near the end, because I was getting tired, and if I got ahead, I could sit back, coast, and have some sports drink, which I wasn't getting many chances to do otherwise.

I did tell them repeatedly they didn't need to wait, but since I was almost keeping up, I let them continue; I'm not sure exactly how to politely pry a group loose if I really don't want to keep up any more. In this case, I was happy to ride with them if they really didn't mind waiting; but I couldn't tell, and it made me a bit self-conscious. Especially when I was asked if I needed sugar -- no, I wasn't bonking, I'd just had a snack, I just am that slow uphill. None of them tried to chit-chat while I was climbing, which was very helpful; I have had people do so, thinking they're being friendly, but I get stressed out because I either need to slow down to be able to parse their speech and say something in return, or I need to ignore them rudely.

At least I got a couple of positive remarks, which helped me not be too self-conscious -- one compliment to my handling skills downhill, and the gentleman who usually hung back and bridged back to the group with me did, I think honestly, compliment my speed just post-hill on the flats -- as I work hills, I mostly seem to find what happens is that I get better at being ready to keep on trucking with no rest after one. Which is good, since on this kind of group expedition, I'm the one who doesn't get a rest (unless I pull ahead on the downhill to get it).

I do have to credit the group with me getting the chilled noodles -- a few minutes after I ordered mine, the SOLD OUT sign went up (they only have a limited amount each weekend). I wouldn't have made it in time for them on my own. The noodles themselves were wonderful, as were the little chunks of gluten; the sauce was a little too vinegary for me but nice and spicy without being overwhelming. I'll try the garlic noodle next time.

My legs were pleasantly prepared from riding the trainer and not doing much else; the only things that hurt were one: cramps of the PMS variety and two: not enough time in the actual saddle means a sore undercarriage. That's one thing commuting is very good for; my usual route is too traffic-y to really push the pace, but I spend a lot of time toughening up my skin.

The route itself was wonderful, though Eastern MA roads right now are terrible. The route on ridewithgps for download/cue sheet printing, if anyone cares to ride part or all of it, and Velouria of Lovely Bicycle has a great description with beautiful pictures from a previous group permanent ride (that I was not on). It's possible to get out there from greater Camberville mostly on bike paths, which would make a fun friendly expedition some time.

Ride stats: 62.02 miles @ 12.6mph for the populaire itself. Total for the day was about 76. Time of record for the populaire was 5:50, although if I'd rushed inside and immediately found the person taking the cards rather than fussing with my GPS and chatting with people it would have been under 5:45. Rolling time was just under 5 hours at 4:58 or so.

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