Actually, this is not really a race recap as this was not a race, but it's the cycling equivalent of a race. Sure, there are cycling races but since I don't foresee me participating in any of those at this time, these group rides will serve the same purpose for me. They are a measure of where I am fitness-wise, just like when I run in races.
When it comes to cycling, I'm just barely getting my feet wet. Up until this week my longest ride had been 20 miles. While my behind might not agree with me, the miles I have put in so far have been relatively flat and easy. I try to put some effort into it and ride fast but up until now, I have been doing the running equivalent of a short, easy run.
Which is why I found it extremely weird when an old friend invited me to a group ride for charity, that I said yes.
He literally contacted me right after I had done my first (and longest) 20 mile ride. I thought about saying no. I did not know if I was ready for that. Not only the miles but keeping up with a group. He tried to ease my concerns: "Look, we are gonna try to keep the group together. 15-17 miles per hour tops. If you get tired, you can ride in the sweep van." The flyer said it was from Toa Baja (two towns from mine) to the town square of Vega Alta (my hometown). Could I stick with a group riding that fast? Could I handle the mileage? I was scared but I could tell he wanted the ride to succeed and help out this center for children so I said yes.
|Captain's Meeting and registration|
The freaking, Everest-like, who-the-heck-came-up-with-this-route, someone-get-a-defibrillator climbs.
See, I was invited to this thing under false pretenses. That route in the flyer was just half of the total ride and it said nothing about riding a Tour de France-level climb. Well, maybe it was not Tour de France-like but it might as well be to me. The guy who just started cycling a month ago. The whole thing started nice enough. We left Toa Baja and rode through "La Ruta del Ciclista" then headed to the town of Dorado. Riding in the peloton (the ride group) was no problem and I was maintaining 15 and 16 mph without much effort. When you see many cyclists riding close together like that, it's because they are working together to beat the wind. I couldn't really feel any difference while in the group but now I look at the data and see that where I usually averaged 14mph I was pulling out 15 and 16 mph without any effort at all.
|Ready to head out!|
|First regrouping stop.|
Turned out that first stop was just to regroup everyone after that climb so we could arrive as a whole group to the real stop which was the Town Square in Vega Alta. My wife brought my daughters to cheer me up. I was so happy to see them. While there, they had the official ceremony where they handed over the donation to the children's home. They were planning on donating $2,000 and ended up giving $5,000 so it was a total success all around. I was given a pack with 2 cup cakes which I ate and put in some new Gatorade bottles on my bike. I left my bottles at home. Rookie mistake.
|Two of my girls cheering me on.|
All this climbing spread out the peloton of course, so a couple of re-grouping stops were required to keep everyone together but eventually we made it out of the mountains and unto the main roads where we made our final stop at another gas station. We were 12 miles away from getting back but the climbs were over.
|Final stop before finish. 12 more miles?!|
But, I made it. And I wasn't last either, even though I didn't arrive with the group. They were serving lunch for all the riders but I was too fried. I looked for my friend, choked him to death, then told his corpse to call me whenever they were doing it again. Thing is, I really don't feel that sore even now. It's not like after running the marathon for example where I could hardly move and instead of wishing to never go through something like that again, I'm actually angry enough at myself to go train so I can be able to do it again except better next time. Masochism is a terrible thing.