There's probably not a better cycling workout in Georgia than Peach Peloton. We ride every Saturday from November until the beginning of February, increasing the distance and intensity as the training season progresses. The early rides start around 70 miles, ramping up to 100+ miles by January, and culminating with the Pine Mountain Challenge, which is approximately 130 miles. After the first few PP rides, the group does rotations. Then, attack zones are added.
Being female, I simply can't ride as hard as the strongest guys, but I've found ways to work within my abilities so that I usually can hang with the group. The basic formation is riding two up, in which we ride in a double paceline. The front two people pull for about five minutes before rolling to the back. When I get to the front of the peloton, I almost always peel back immediately without taking a turn so that I can conserve my energy. The guys are fine with this. Also, it mixes up the pairs, which aids socialization (perhaps good, perhaps bad...)
During rotations, i.e., a continuously rotating paceline, I sit in, which means I stay at the back and let the others rotate. Rotations are usually done counterclockwise; therefore, I usually sit in on the left-hand side. I try to be very aware of cycling safety and etiquette because the last thing I want to do is interfere with anyone else's ride. Sitting in does save some energy, but it still can be a challenge to hang on.
When the attack zones start, I don't even try to take part. Fortunately, the guys regroup after an attack zone. Even though I don't attack, I push myself during those sections so that they don't have to wait too long for me.
Today's PP was as hard a ride as I can remember in recent history. There haven't been any attack zones yet this season, but today we definitely had rotations - very long sections of rotations. The first rotation started at about mile 25 and went through about mile 50. I felt pretty good and thought I wouldn't have any trouble staying with the group the whole way.
Our one stop for the ride was at about mile 55 at Blackbird Coffee in Milledgeville. Although I don't like coffee, I love tea. I had thought I might get a chai latte, but the day was so unseasonably and wonderfully warm that I opted for a good old Coca-Cola Classic instead. Blackbird Coffee also has a tempting array of baked goods in a display case. Robert was one of the first ones from our group to go through the line. He got a cinnamon roll that looked delicious. I can't even think of the last time I had a cinnamon roll, and so I set my sights on the last one in the case. Mmm... But Cal, who was ahead of me in line, got that last cinnamon roll. Drat! Oh, well - I had a raspberry-white chocolate scone instead, and it was quite tasty.
We got back on the road, and rotations started again at about mile 65. That's when things got serious. Really serious. We were averaging over 19 mph. I didn't struggle too badly until we got on Highway 57 heading back into Macon. It's a 4-lane highway, actually quite good for cycling, but the rollers are significant, particularly when you're going hard on such a long ride. I was tired, and my mind wasn't processing very much. All I could do is look at the long grade right in front of me and tell myself simply to get to the top of it; I didn't think about any hills or miles after that. At the next climb, I repeated this process. A little at the time - a good approach to life as well as cycling.
The rotations lasted until about mile 90. I hung on! The guys finally eased up as we approached Macon. I asked them if "cyclocide" is a word. If it is, they tried to commit it.
We had about 6 more miles to go. To avoid the heaviest traffic, we took our frequent route through the Ocmulgee National Monument. Just a few more miles through downtown, and we were back at our starting location, Jittery Joe's in Mercer Village. I'm glad that Cal, Cody, and Van are as obsessive as I am. The route was 96 miles, but we wanted to ride 4 extra miles to make it a full century. We rode through the Mercer campus. I had had time to ride an extra 1.75 miles before PP rolled out this morning, and so I didn't have to go quite as far as Cal, Cody, and Van at the end to get my 100 miles. I think they were a little jealous that I got to stop before they did.
I was thrilled and proud of myself for lasting to the end. That was not an easy accomplishment. I'm grateful for a beautiful day to ride, a safe ride for everyone, and good cycling friends who both help and push me.
Thursday, December 3, 2015
Considering how long I've been riding, you'd think I wouldn't make rookie mistakes. I did tonight, though. I had forgotten to charge my headlight, and it went out about three miles into my dirt ride. A full charge should last about four hours. I thought I had used up only about an hour from the most recent charge, but I guess I had used more juice than I remembered. Having two headlights would help. I did have a second one, but it got lost during RAAM. Everything became community property then despite having my name on my stuff. Regardless, I really need to get into the habit of charging my lights after every ride.
My headlight went out on this same route several weeks ago. That time I thought I was using a freshly charged light, but I hadn't fully connected it to the charger. D'oh! I was about 3/4 of the way through that ride and called Robert to come pick me up. Tonight, however, I was determined not to bother him again, particularly since he was in the middle of a trainer workout back at the house. Thus, tonight was an exercise in problem solving.
Fortunately, there is almost no traffic on my dirt routes, which is why I feel comfortable riding them at night in the first place. I moved my taillight from the back of my bike to the front. The steady, red light on the brightest setting gave me just enough light to find my way. It reminded me of going to the Nightcrawlers Program at Zoo Atlanta some years ago. My group spent the night at the zoo and got to see some really cool behind-the-scenes things. When we visited the reptile house, the zookeeper gave us red flashlights to observe the animals, explaining that red light is much less irritating to them than regular white light.
I rode carefully, partly because the path was dim and partly because Jordan Road, my nighttime dirt road ingress/egress, was graveled fairly recently. There are still some significant sections where the gravel hasn't settled in well, making for a rather challenging ride even with a fully charged headlight. Thankfully, I navigated the treacherous sections safely.
As I turned off of Jordan Road onto the paved highway leading back to my house, I heard my neighbor's dogs, as usual. They always bark and sometimes chase me, but fortunately they have never been truly aggressive. Tonight, with my freaky front red light, I must have looked like some kind of UFO bike.
Posted by Betty Jean at 6:49 PM