Even though I first put my foot back on the pedals a few weeks ago, I didn’t really feel like it was a comeback yet. Sure, riding a mountain bike through urban roads with friends is a decent workout, it is a casual pace and not an arduous ride. And sure, I had put in a couple big efforts on solo rides. It felt more like the beginning of urban riding rather than a true return to sport, and frankly I didn’t know whether I’d be able to keep up with active cyclists in good shape.
This week I tested that theory. Over the Memorial Day weekend, I had my road bike tuned and cleaned up. I went through old supplies and found enough gear to get me by. The challenge was attending a group ride, finding a riding group that I felt I could keep up with, and sticking with them. I gave it a try on Thursday evening, and the temperature happened to be 100 degrees when we left. The photo above is the parking lot when I arrived as people assembled to ride.
Technically I rode with the C group, but don’t let that fool you. The A group for this ride are nearly pros, and the B ride is very competitive. Back at my peak fitness I could sometimes hang with the A group, but there would be days where I’d either drop back or ride with the B group and that was still an intense workout. The C group is 16-18 mph.
The great part was seeing a lot of familiar faces and old friends. There were a few people happy to see me, and that was nice. One of the guys, Jack, introduced me as “new cyclist Aaron West.”
For the first time in somewhere between 4-5 years, I was soon enough on the pavement, riding in a pace line, and doing my best to not overdo it. To my surprise, my spinning legs still worked and I was keeping up just fine. In fact, there were times when it felt slow. There was one time when I ended up out in front, and since I didn’t have my Garmin charged, I couldn’t monitor my speed to maintain a good pace. So I just rode what felt like a comfortable workout. After a few minutes, I look back and I had left everyone behind. That would not be a good idea with the heat and the miles ahead, but it showed that I still had some fitness. Muscle memory is a remarkable thing.
As the ride progressed, I naturally got tired. Even at peak fitness this would have worn me out, and I was extremely thirsty. Towards the end, I was a little overcooked and struggled on the hills, but I was pleased just to get up the hills. The total mileage was around 29, which is about a third of the total miles I’ve ridden since coming back. I slept great that night.
The week ended with a ride to the minor league baseball park with Cola Town Bike Coop, drinking beers and eating stadium food with some new and old cycling friends. Life is good.
June 1st, 2019 at 2:06 pm
100 degree heat? Only mad dogs, Englishmen and crazed cyclists are out in that heat!!! 😎🚴🏽😎
June 2nd, 2019 at 3:04 am
Fantastic news, man. Welcome home, brother.
March 3rd, 2020 at 3:09 pm
Hey, Aaron, how’s that hip holding up?
March 3rd, 2020 at 5:14 pm
Hey man, still all good! I should post more. I’m on the board with a bike coop and we have regular rides, but I took some time off during the winter and found other ways to stay in shape. Expecting to ride some in 2020 and possibly will hit some mountains.
March 3rd, 2020 at 6:20 pm
How about that! Good to hear, brother. Enjoy your spring. We’re almost outside in the great north. This week, I think.