After 8 months of getting back into cycling from a 15 year break, getting a new bike, new position, new everything basically, I finally experienced my first club ride. My long time friend, Marshall, was finally able to accompany me on a ride. We had been discussing it for months over the winter and we finally made it reality. Marshall showed up and I was awestruck at his form. He shrunk down to pure climber’s body. His BMI was similar to that of Andy Schleck or Alberto Contador. On a abnormally chilly Sunday morning we headed north. As I followed him in his slipstream, his grace and power to the pedals, resembled Contador ‘s even moreso. I was in amazement as I desperately tried to stay on his wheel. As I began to get warmed up, my mind kept racing from all the Carmichael DVD’s I had taken in, to the days of my old coaches telling me how to ride, to all the books I’ve read. Could it be true ? Am I actually here riding with a Senior 1 at a comfortable pace, that’s not holding him back too much ? To my astonishment I was ? I can still hear the voices of Jim Lehman, Chris Carmichael echoing in my ear to stay focused. I finally calmed down and fell into my groove. I settled into what I think was my old form and tried to maintain a smooth and calm pace. As we continued north the cold head winds continued to batter us, but we literally flew by another cyclist like he was standing still. My confidence growing with every pedal stroke I was proud of myself for reaching this level.
But then, Marshall delivered the news I did not want to hear. He said he’d like us to catch the “Scarborough Club’s slow “ group as they made their way back home. Now I became nervous !!! I thought to myself, do I still have what it takes to ride in a group going 40-45kmh ? Did I have the endurance to keep up and not embarrass myself and get dropped ? We proceeded to ride in the Aurora area and weaved in and out of routes in attempt to catch “the Scarborough Club” on their way back. Then at the top of Leslie in Aurora, he spotted them. We changed our course and would let them catch us. On a lonely strip of Leslie southbound in Aurora, I looked back and saw a pack of riders approaching us like terminators in the distance. My heart racing , my nervousness heightened, we sped up and within a blink of an eye they were upon us. I quickly jumped out of my saddle, changed gears and flew to catch up to the back of the pack. I had no interest in taking a pull at the front, in fear of embarrassment, so I just sat at the back in amazement. I was hanging on quite comfortably as we were moving at about 40-45kmh. At times we were surging at 50kmh! and the group split but we caught up again. After a few minutes dealing with my fears, everything just fell into place ??? I was able to hang onto this pack, I even began to drop guys on the short hills ??? What ? Could CTS and all those months of talking about “climbing with power, and surging in a group” actually have helped ???? Yes indeed !!! It certainly helped as I was flying !!! I actually dropped 2 guys on hills !! They soon caught up to me, as I waited to pull them back to the main group. But then I noticed another gap forming , and I “surged” again to catch the group. I thought about what the CTS DVD’s told me, the hours of interval training, and began to believe all that indoor training is coming into use! I jumped a gear, got out of the saddle and closed the gap with one guy on my wheel. The other guy unfortunately could not hang on. As I looked up from the back of the pack, I couldn’t believe that Marshall was comfortable taking pulls up front. Again, his 137 lbs frame pulling this train like it was nothing ???? I was once again amazed. As we made it back into the city, the one guy who I dropped on the hills, blew a red light to catch up and I stayed back. At this point the ride was over due to too many cars and stop lights. Marshall came back and we reconvened the two of us down the road. Wow, it felt like the good old days, except we were three back then. The only thing missing was our dear friend Dennis. Yes if you are reading this, we miss you man. Marshall did it purposely to test me, to see where I was , to see how far my comeback was. I think I managed to surprise him. So after 15 years, I felt and rode like I never missed a beat. It felt good drafting, jumping and riding at high speeds in a pack of riders. Now I know where I am , and what I have to do to improve my conditioning, and make my way to the front again.