Daylight Savings Time might as well be a national holiday for cyclists. With that extra hour of daylight, we can finally get back to our weekday road rides. With that daylight comes exercise, community, and good times.
The temperature for our inaugural weekday ride of the season was a pleasant 70 degrees. You couldn’t pick a better day to start back up. I wasn’t going to miss this one for the world.
The thing is, this was only my third ride of the year, and would be my first ride with other people. The first two rides were encouraging, but I was still skeptical. The last thing I need is to get caught up in the typical competitive mentality of the group ride. I needed to ride my pace and hopefully that would mix well with others. Since this is not a familiar area for me, I was nervous of dropping and getting lost.
My Tuesday and Thursday ride of choice is the ‘Tri Cities’ group, appropriately named because it starts near the border of Columbia, West Columbia, and Cayce. I rode it maybe a dozen times last year, and found it to be a scrappy, relentless group. I rode with the A group as long as I could stay with them, which was most of the time, but my current fitness is not even close to the same level. This time I would be lucky to hang with the B group.
As we started pedaling on the 12th Street Extension, the fast thoroughfare that takes us to the outskirts of Columbia, I was starting to get worried. It was an effort to keep up with the group, more than I felt comfortable with. That’s when I realized I had accidentally jumped in with the lead group. I backed off and settled in with the slower group. The pace was only slightly slower, from 20-21 mph to 18-19, yet that was enough to give me comfort.
By the time we got to the first climb, Glenn/Old Wire Rd, I expected everyone to blow by me. I hung back, pedaling easy, until I realized I was passing other people. The climbing legs were still there! That spurred me on and I kept on spinning, making sure not to favor the hip.
Once I warmed up, I felt stronger. The fitness was coming back. I was tempted to push it on a couple of occasions, but remained smart and cautious. There’s no need to test myself at this point.
We cut the ride short at 20 miles from the normal 27, mostly because of running out of daylight.
With this ride, I gained a lot of confidence. I am on my way back, and much stronger than I expected. There’s going to be some good riding ahead soon.