Sunday, April 3, 2011

Group Rides and New Duds

This was a great weekend for cycling.  It was relatively dry and relatively warm, plus I got to be in my first group rides of the year.  That's right.  I said 'rides', as in 'more than one'.  The first ride was with my homies from the Twin Cities Spoke.  We do a spin session on Saturday mornings throughout the winter, but now that Spring is here, everyone is itching to hit the road.

We met down in Chaska at 8:30am, so it was still plenty chilly.  The good news was that our club clothing order had come in, so I got to give my new wind shell a test drive.  We headed south through Carver, up through a crazy-steep hill and then headed north towards Victoria.  Parts of our ride were on the Chaska Tri bike course.  It felt good to see that part of town.  It makes me feel like race season is just about within sight.

It's nice to ride with these guys.  There are folks with various levels of ability, but most of them are much stronger cyclists than I am.  So, I get a little motivation to work a harder than I normally would on a solo ride.  Plus, if I'm hurting, there's usually someone to draft off of.

One pretty sweet part of that morning was picking up the new team kits that I ordered a couple months ago.  I' had been going the last few years using just one team jersey and one pair of shorts.  So, when this year's order went out, I grabbed a little Christmas cash (thanks Mom!) and some of my allowance money (yes, I have an allowance, but that's a story for another post) and placed my order for two pairs of shorts, two jerseys, a base layer and a wind shell.  So, getting my delivery yesterday was a bit like Christmas morning part II.

Naturally, I ran home, locked the door and went through all my swag.

Then, I tore those bags open.
Oh Boy Oh Boy Oh Boy!
This is exciting for a few different reasons.  First and foremost, I can now wear the team gear for training AND races.  It'll be nice to 'dance with the one who brung ya', if you know what I mean.  If you'll recall rule #1 from my rules of the road, it's important to remember for whom you ride.  Second, my current training gear, team-sponsored and otherwise, is in pretty sad shape.  My shorts, especially, are really showing their age - you'd age more quickly too if you spent that amount of time near my nether-regions.

Third, the team has re-designed their shorts with a black panel in front and back, rather than the old purple/navy panel. 
The old shorts.
Why is this important?  Well, colored spandex has a habit of showing, um, how do I say this? "unwanted moisture".  In the past, I had to walk out of the rest room with my helmet over my lap (no matter how much you shake and dance, the last two drops go in your pants.)  Plus, even if your my bladder wasn't an issue, any amount of cycling is going to cause a little sweating, so after a workout I'd end up looking like I wet myself.

Anyway, on to Sunday.

I've mentioned before how I use Beginner Triathlete to track my workouts and connect with the local tri community.  Well, since many of us are getting antsy to ride outside, several members organized an impromptu group ride out on the Liberty Triathlon bike course.  We were scared that the threat of rain would ruin the afternoon, but, it turned out to be a great day for a ride.  The highs were in the 50s and the sun peeked out from time to time. 

So, 7 of us met over at Baker Park and headed out on a nice casual ride around the course.  It was nice to chat with some 'forum buddies' and learn what everyone was up to.  One fellow was riding for just the 2nd time on clipless pedals.  Like anyone new to clipless pedals will tell you, accidentally tipping over while stopped is a rite of passage.  So, we all had a bit of a giggle when he had a bit of a "gravity attack" when the group stopped (sorry Adrian!). 

Of course, I didn't want him to feel bad, so the next time I had a chance, I decided to "accidentally" tip over too.  And just to make things "extra convincing" I decided to tip over onto one of the other riders (sorry Sarah!) and take a chunk out of my knee.

Okay, it wasn't a 'chunk', but it did draw blood (also: notice the lack of awkward sweat lines).

Once we all stopped falling over, the ride went really well.  The wind coming out of the east was a little gnarly, but once we started to head west again, we got to enjoy a little free speed.

Getting outside and riding with folks was excellent.  Hopefully, we can get some more of these group rides together throughout the spring as we're all putting in our base miles.

Speaking of base miles, since I'm wrapping up my first rest week of this training plan, tomorrow will be the beginning of my first Base Training week.  What does this mean?  Well, it means my volume will go up, especially for swimming and cycling.  Don't worry though, there will be plenty of time to focus on the run later on.


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