The local shop's Monday rides are "flat" rides, the Wednesday ones are the hilly ones. Mondays I have fun, I do a jump or two, and I finish off the ride pleasantly fatigued.
We rode out to Mountain Road, a road that I've done somewhat consistently over the past year. For me it's 30 minutes of hard riding, starting with a steep pitch that puts me up against the ropes. It's hard to continue any kind of effort because I get so demoralized in the first 7 or 8 minutes, but the persistent climbing forces me to keep going, one rise at a time, until I crest the last, long rise 30 minutes later. If I don't keep working, well, I either fall over or I have to put a foot down.
However, except for one ride on this road with SOC, I've never done the road with others. What a difference. After about 100 meters of the road, everyone except two people flew by me - and I thought I was going pretty well too!
I sighed internally as they disappeared around the bend, internally because I was already breathing like an asthmatic in the middle of an attack with no TUE, no puffer, no nothing.
This is why I don't do road races.
When I say that I don't do road races to others, I feel sort of wimpy, like, "Dude, you should just suck it up and do a road race or two." But then I go on a training ride with a bunch of guys that don't race and get completely and totally annihilated by them.
In 20 seconds.
It clears that mist obscuring my road racing wimpyness.
Okay, fine. I'll admit that one guy does race. Mountain bikes. And road bikes sometimes. Okay, he did Mount Washington. If you read anything about the race this year, you'd have read about him. He's the one that broke his chain and ran the last couple miles. Finished in 1:18 and change. Pushing his bike.
Fine, so he annihilated me. But so did everyone else. One guy caught up to me towards the end of the steep part (he had to wait for traffic or something at the bottom of the hill) and told me I was going well. My first thought was, "If I was going well, how come I can't see any of the guys in front of me?" My next thought was, "If I'm going well, how come you just blew by me?"
Yep, Dan went pedaling by like I was standing still.
Ultimately I passed Dan just before the end of the road. Unfortunately he had turned around to check for stragglers, yours truly being one of them. It's a bit humbling to be "searched for" on a group ride, but, hey, I was okay with it.
We headed back to the shop, flying along some nice fast roads. I put the hammer down, trying to keep my body up in the "I'm working hard" heart rate. Actually I just wanted to work hard - without any monitoring devices (no SRM, no HRM, not even speed or cadence) - I just focused on working hard, steady, and trying not to blow up.
One speedster Paul and the Mount Washington guy came up to me after the descent leveled out a bit (my density allows me to descend well), and although the Mount guy eased, Paul kept hammering until he turned off to go home.
I thought about the different time gaps while I pedaled along in dark aloneness.
Lose 10 minutes on the climbs.
Gain 1 minute on the flats and downhills.
Yeah, this is why I don't do road races.