Friday, May 2, 2014

Cycling woes

So I've been regularly riding with a Breeze group since October/November (I call my September ride a false start). Until recently, the pace (about 22-24 km/h) has been sufficient for me to ride in harder gears to work on strength, lower gears to work on cadence, or to just to take it easy. But all I can work on these days is cadence as the pace can be slow, unless we have a large turnout and can split into fast and slow groups (in which case I get to work on my fitness as I still struggle to work hard on the slightly-downhill Doncaster Rd and still get up Belmore Rd at a good pace).

How slow is slow? Well, the past couple of weeks has been slower than I'd like (less than 20km/h), but the Breeze program exists for beginners and we just hadn't had many regular newbies until now. I'm not imaging it either - Strava supports how I've been feeling!

I set a PB on a solo ride through this 16km Strava segment, 7 days later I'm 14 minutes slower as the latest beginners have joined us. I don't think I complain about the pace at all during the ride - the ride exists for newbies, and I will ride with them if the numbers are low. So now I'm going to try to leave home 15 minutes earlier than I normally would so that I can meet the Breeze group at the second meeting point (about 15-20 minutes into the ride) and get a good hit-out in before joining the Breeze ladies. While the plan didn't quite work out on Thursday as I lost time finding my keycard (I needed money for post-ride coffee), I did get a good 20 minutes in before coming across the group near the first meeting point. I suppose it doesn't help when they don't quite start on time.

The added bonus of getting into the habit of leaving at 5:15am is that this would be the same departure time if I wanted to make the Rapha Women ride that regularly rides at about 25 km/h, but starts from North Melbourne at 6:00am. It ends up being a ~60km ride for me, so it's something to build towards. I can manage the distance easily enough when I do a long Sunday ride, it's just whether I can do the longer mid-week ride in addition to the Sunday ride. Yes, I overthink things and am probably fine. But I definitely need the 5:15am practice before committing to a ride that take more time to get to!

There is another local option, the Maling Room Ride (MRR), which I have joined on occasion - I'm just not sure if I can commit to riding that loop at 27km/h regularly! Especially since there is sometimes judgement thrown my way as I ride a flat-bar (my flat-bar gets me through most women's rides easily enough, including the monthly Peak Cycles ride which averages 25km/h and has a few short climbs). I'd also miss coffee chatter with women, as there's only a handful of ladies on the MRR, but spread across different pace groups (the 27km/h group is one of the slowest, occasionally there's a slower group but it's not always there).

As an example of the difference between groups and pace-groups, the Breeze and MRR have an 11km section that overlaps:

  • my PB of 23:20 (29km/h) was with the MRR "Mice"
  • my second best time was with the slower MRR "Cheese" (24:39, 27.5km/h)
  • my third best time was my fastest solo ride (25:17, 26.8 km/h)
  • the fastest Breeze ride was 26:43 (25.4 km/h, which isn't too bad at all)
  • the slow April 17th Breeze ride was 34:08 (19.8km/h). 
I think a 10 minute difference over 11km for a 20km loop is quite a bit! It means that I'm not getting as much out of my time - and I wake up early for this!

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