It’s All About the Bike

4 06 2012

My workout of choice this weekend involved a lot of time sitting down. In my bike saddle that is! Since I haven’t been doing much running since my foot still hurts, I bonded with my bike and rode the most miles I have since moving to Florida.


On Saturday morning, I headed over to St. Petersburg for a group ride put on by the St. Petersburg Bike Club. I heard about the ride from the St. Pete Mad Dogs Tri Club website, and on my way over the bridge I wondered how many people would show up. I was going alone, and I didn’t want it to have been a) cancelled due to lack of participation or b) there be only super duper fast people there and I’d get dropped. Well, I shouldn’t have been worried, because I rolled up to the designated starting place (the parking lot at the North Shore Pool) and I was greeted with this:

Not the best picture, but it reminded me of the group that shows up for the Conte’s Freshbikes rides when there’s food afterwards- but with even MORE people. Definitely more than 100 people there.

I had read on the website that they called out groups by speed and whether the group was going north or south. I chatted with someone next to me to confirm this was how it worked, and he told me that they usually called out groups starting at 26, and then go down to 20. There was also a group who went a little slower and he pointed to the group of older gentlemen behind us, saying they went about 18. Gulp. I thought I could push myself, so I decided to go with the 20mph group. Soon, a man with a megaphone started calling the groups.

“26 south” and a group of serious looking cyclists took off.

“24 north” and another group left, including the guy I’d been talking to.

“22 south”… “22 north”

“20 north” A woman up near the front, who clearly was a regular, jokingly shouted that she’d be going 17.5 ” With an 18 trailer,” megaphone man added.

Here goes nothing! I pulled out with the group of 15 or 20 cyclists, and we fell into a line. We rode through the residential area by the water, and then made our way to a road with fewer cars and a bike lane. We stayed in a line for most of the ride, and I kept looking down at my odometer. 17.5, 18, 18.5, 18…When were were going to get to 20? Does this ride take us to a place where we can just get out and go?

At about mile 10, we made a turnaround, and headed back towards the parking lot. I got near the front of the line, and there were a few times where we made it up to 20, but not consistently. Oh, and 17.5 woman? She wasn’t even close to our group anymore…

With 3 miles or so to go, a group of cyclists passed us. It was the 22 north group. I sped up and stayed with them. After settling into a groove, I found myself next to a girl about my age (who had also started with the 20 group), and a guy who had been with the 22 group. He was a regular, and he told us that at the end of the ride, everyone goes to a coffee shop and hangs out for a bit. Count me it! I finished the ride chatting with the girl, who happens to be working on her Master’s at Duke, and she’s just in St. Pete for the summer doing an internship. When it was all said and done, we went just under 20 miles.

As it turned out, our coffee shop stop was The Hooker Tea Company! I had just been there a few weeks ago for the Tampa Lady Blogger’s meet up.

(Photo credit to whoever uploaded it to our Facebook page 🙂 )

I ordered a yummy mateccino and scone, and went outside to meet some more cyclists. Everyone was SO NICE. The man who we chatted with at the end of the ride remembered that I was from Tampa, and introduced me to a guy who rides with a group in Tampa over the bridge to get to these rides. I believe it tacks on an extra 30 miles (15 each way). I think I know how I’ll be getting in my miles this summer! I laughed to myself as I returned to the table. My new friend (yes, I’m calling her my friend; we exchanged numbers 😉 ) and I were by FAR the youngest people in our little group. Yup, I’m in Florida. But age didn’t matter at all. Everyone was chatting up a storm, and had really interesting stories. I left with a smile on my face. I will be back!

Next time I go though, I will ride with the faster group, because I left feeling like I had just been on a casual fun ride. It wasn’t the workout I was looking for,  so when I got home, I headed out to Davis Island for another 15. That’s more like it!

On Sunday, I wanted to get another workout in. There’s only like one public pool in Tampa open on Sundays, and I didn’t want to run, so biking it is. Courtney and I texted about going for a ride. She told me she needed to do 2.5 hours, and though I haven’t gone that long in awhile, I told her I was game!

She picked me up around 2 and we headed up to the Suncoast Trail. An hour and 15 out an back was our plan.

Ten minutes into our ride, I looked at Courtney’s bike and noticed her back tire was flat. 😦 Boo.

We pulled off the trail and she gave me a lil refresher lesson on changing tires.

Notice her pouty bottom lip. She wasn’t too pleased about the piece of glass we found in her tire.

After a short stop, we were off again. Yes, it was hot, but not unbearable. It was a little windy, which was more annoying than anything. I guess I’d prefer to have a little bit of wind though, to cool it down some. I thought the ride went by pretty fast since we spent most of the ride chatting. AND, I even had my first gator spotting!! We were almost back to the car, and we rode past some water. Every time I walk/drive/ride by any water, I look for a gator. So, like usual, I scoped the surface for the dark head poking out. I nearly squealed when I saw it, and poor Courtney must have thought I was nuts. I was as excited as a child on Christmas, stopping my bike and quickly turning around. Unfortunately, by the time I got my phone out to take a picture, he submerged. Doh!

Two hours and thirty seven minutes later we were back at the car.

I definitely haven’t done that much mileage since last summer in DC. I felt pretty good until about mile 35, when I was just tired of being on the bike and being hot. But, I need to build my endurance on the bike both physically and mentally for my HIM. These long rides are going to be crucial for me.

Total miles for the weekend: 20 + 15 + 42 = 77 miles! BAM!


Our post ride food of choice?

That would be Chipotle my friends. Mmm Hmmm. We may have replaced all of those calories we just burned and then some, but it was totally worth it.

And now, my legs need some rest. But, I can’t wait to do it all again! and again, and again, and again this summer, when my HIM training really ramps up. Bring it!

{Guest Post} Group Cycling (Part 1)

8 09 2011

Are you dried out yet? While we were experiencing rain ALL DAY LONG yesterday, Chloe was experiencing a different kind of rain. She was south of the equator, exploring the rainforests of Brazil. Yes, I said Brazil. I’m slightly incredibly jealous, but I’m sure she’ll have some exciting stories and pictures for when she returns! In the meantime, we’ve got a guest post lined up for you from yet another world traveler. Courtney, from Passionate 4 Life, is currently in Beijing, and will be competing in the ITU World Championships this weekend. Pretty impressive, right? Her post is in two parts, so stay tuned for the second half!

Hello 321 Delish readers! My name is Courtney and my blog Passionate 4 Life talks about racing experiences and different things I’ve learned as a triathlete the past five years and as a competitive swimmer for ten years.

My first experience cycling with a group in 2007 was slightly embarrassing. Aside from my goofy attempt to recreate a cycling outfit, I had no clue what I was doing. This was maybe my second or third time out on the road. A friend invited me to join a smaller weekday ride that went 25 miles at a pretty decent pace. At the major turn my Dasani water bottle flew out of the holder causing the group to swerve and call out “Bottle!”. I lasted about 10 miles before getting dropped and was determined to master riding with a group.


Source                                 Source

After getting a proper water bottle and talking to a few experienced cyclists, I was ready to try again. No safety mishaps the next time but I got dropped again before the 20 mile mark. Third try was a charm and I held on the entire ride and loved every minute of the socializing, advice, and challenge of riding with a group. Check out How to look like a Pro from Cycling Tips.

So, why should you ride with a group? It’s a way to meet new cyclists and triathletes. Time flies by on a 40 mile ride. Drafting allows you to ride at a much faster speed. Learn new routes. It’s fun!

So here’s some of the advice I’ve learned along the way through experience and talking to other people.

How to find a group

1. Search online using terms like “tampa cycling club”, “tampa triathlon club”, “tampa group rides”, “tampa bike groups”, etc.

2. Check out local bike shops by checking out their website and calling. Ask about group ride schedules.

3. Talk to other cyclists. Some of this information isn’t online and the only way to find out is through networking. It’s great community and usually cyclists are eager to point you in the direction of a group ride that will fit your needs.

How to decide the group is right for you

1. Determine the route, distance, and speed. Most cycling clubs will have this information posted online. If you are talking to a cycling friend or a bike shop, simply ask. “Where does the group ride?”, “How far is the route and are there alternative distances?” “What’s the average speed?”. If there’s a map, then print it out or have somebody draw it for you.

2. Determine if the ride is “newbie” friendly. Look for phrases like “No-drop ride” or “All cyclists welcome”. You may be an experienced solo rider but your first group ride should be a safe and comfortable experience.

3. Determine the level you are riding at because many rides will have different groups. Generally, the “A group” will be a fast drop ride. The average speed is 22-28 mph and the group won’t slow down or wait for you to catch up if you fall off the pack. These rides are fast and fun but not good for your first time with a group…no matter how strong of a rider you are. The “B group” is usually a little slower and no-drop with an average speed of 19-24 mph, while the “C group” is a little slower 16-19 mph average and they will slow down or wait for you to stay with the group….meaning they are no-drop. The C group is ideal for a first time group rider.

Come back on Monday for some tips on what to do before and during the ride!