Monday, April 21, 2014

The Opt Out Hill

Tonight I went for my first group ride with Suburban Cyclists Unlimited (SCU). This was also my first group ride on streets and my first group ride since the groundhog incident. In the interest of full disclosure, I did ride at Cooper River Park with my daughter and her boyfriend last fall which did involve a bit of street to get from the bike shop to the park but this was my first entirely on street group ride.

There were many obstacles to overcome.

First I had to get the nerve to show up. I am not great in groups where I do not know anyone and am not sure I belong. As I mentioned in the last post, Maggi is part of this group but I knew she had a meeting to be at tonight and would not join the ride. I arrived at the Church of the Savior in Wayne, found what appeared to be the meeting spot (evidenced by the other people with bikes and I finally asked one) and took out my bike. I attached the front wheel and took a spin around the parking lot to be sure it was attached correctly and that my gears still shifted right. All was good so I waited. As usual I was way early.

While I waited I flashed back to kindergarten. On the first day of Kindergarten my mom and my aunt dropped my cousin Helen and I off at St Denis gym. Helen was the only other person I knew but since I knew her it was safe. Until they separated us and I was led to a classroom full of 20+ kids and one adult I did not know. At story time I made a run for it. True story.

As I looked around the parking lot tonight I knew no one would notice if I left. But I decided I was a big girl now I would stay.

It was a tough decision to stay. As I watched more and more cylcists arrive they all had road bikes and some were taking some pretty fast spins around the parking lot. I was convinced I would be the only person for the slow hybrid group. I have no idea where to start actually but the group's website encourages everyone to be realistic about what group they ride with even though no one will be left behind. So I decided I would start with the 8-10 mph group.

One of my fears of group riding is that I will be the one that causes an accident. If no one showed up I could ride alone but that wouldn't help me conquer the fear. Fortunately I was not alone and there were only 4 in the group. They all had road bikes but preferred to ride slower they said so off we went. We rode around the streets of Wayne. The ride leader stopped periodically to get the four of us back together. All in all I did pretty good. I was stronger on the hills than I thought I would be and at the end I felt like I could have gone farther.

Before we started, the ride leader explained the rules of the group and emphasized that no one would be left behind. She told me there was one significant hill and that anyone could opt out as the group would circle back to the bottom of it and pick up anyone who did not want to do it. As we approached said hill, the ride leader dropped back beside me and told me this was it. I had a choice to wait or go for it. By this time I had showed up for the ride; not run away; was not the one anyone had to wait for; no one had fallen over because of me; and I had not fallen over. I was not going to stop now. I told her I would go for it. I hedged for next time though by saying "I'll try anything once.".

I did and I did it just fine. It wasn't fun exactly but I've climbed steeper hills. The thing about this one was the way it wound around and just kept on going. Just when you thought you were going to crest it, it continued on. Ugh.

I will feel this ride in my legs tomorrow. I haven't ridden this far - 11 miles - since last fall. It's ok. I didn't opt out of any of it. I got past a lot of fears tonight so any strain I feel tomorrow will make me smile. :)

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