|My riding partner for the Solvang Metric Century ride. Deirdre is a lot faster than me, but she decided to have an 'easy day' of cross-fitness for her Boston Marathon training . She agreed not to drop me, but man, I still had to work for it.|
As a newer cyclist, I've been dropped plenty. Here's the scenario:
You meet up with a group of cyclists for a ride. You think, "This ride will be exiting, fun, hard-core, and there will be some lovely scenery along the way."
Everyone is chatting before the ride, and so friendly. "This is going to be an awesome day!"
As you start out on the road, the group generally stays together . . But, in no time, you are panting to keep up, your front wheel inches further and further from the person in front of you. Maybe you hold back and intend to catch up later, or maybe you stop for a second to check your back tire pressure. . .
and like that . . . they are gone. Every last one of them. You have been dropped.
I went on a club ride last summer from Almaden Park to Morgan Hill that I thought would be a good challenge. Little did I know, that the ride also attracted people who were toward the middle of their Ironman training. The ride started out great, and everything was going fine, until I found myself at the back of the line. And wouldn't you know it - somehow I got off of the back tire, and the other cyclists flew ahead of me like magical unicorns. Suddenly I'm overcome with emotions: I'm a loser, I'm lonely, I hope I know where I'm going etc. Other cyclists spent some time at rest stops along the route. But, I decided the only way to get through this ride was to go through the stops, and just let the group catch up to me again. The ride was personally successful: I got in the miles I needed, I rode with people most of the time, no one had to wait for me, and I only got lost once!
In order to deal with being dropped, I've learned a few things:
1.) Safety: Have the right gear, take a phone, take an ID, and have enough food.
2.) Course: Know the route, and expect to take some detours.
3.) Know yourself: Don't set up for failure, or underestimate abilities either.
4.) Don't blame others: If they are on a different level, that's fine. Do what you can.
5.) Practice: Just keep getting out there, and you'll get better!
After a few years of riding, you typically learn who your best cycling buddies are: who you can keep up with or vice versa, who wants to do the same number of miles, who wants to try the same climbs, etc. But once in awhile a friend takes a confident turn, or takes the steps necessary to improve spectacularly, and unfortunately they are no longer there to wait for you.
And sometimes, this friend is YOU.
I've been dropped numerous times, but I've also dropped some people. Truth be told.
I'm not a mean-spirited person, and I don't intentionally drop people, but I've been out on a stretch of road, comfortable in my saddle, looked back and saw no one. This is a feeling of "Woah, I'm awesome!" paired with "Woah, did I miss a turn?"
In many ways I feel justified in going ahead. Why shouldn't I go at my own pace? I've put a lot of effort into this, and maybe I don't want to have to wait all the time, or have to turn around. But on the other hand I'm not sure if I did something wrong, and it's quite lonely out on the road by yourself.
Clearly being dropped is a proverb for real life too.