The Group Ride

Week three – Sunday

Today I got back in the saddle. I loved it. I was apprehensive to start, as I said yesterday, it’s been 12 weeks since my last bike ride (as a Catholic girl, since my last confession is always on the tip of my tongue).

It was my first bike ride with my new club, Brighton Triathlon Club. We met at 8am outside Small Batch Coffee Shop in Seven Dials and for the second time this week I was uncharecteristically early/on time for training. A big group gathered and soon we were off.

As set off up the hill, the rain started to fall – and I fell to the back of the group. My quads were hurting. Yesterday’s 15-mile run on the seafront was making its presence felt, and even though I didn’t have any doubts about completing the ride, I was aware that I may need to work quite hard to keep up.

At the top of the hill the rain stopped,  we stopped and we re-grouped.  I found myself in a splinter group with three other hard-working and very welcoming endurance women. As we kicked off I was lagging behind. The muscles needed to add power to riding a bike – my quads and calves – are very out of bike practise.

But, I was there, and even though I was very conscious that my contribution to the group was, well, not much – and that I was proably holding them back – I was relaxed and could also see that Fiona, Sally and Katie, weren’t going to give me a hard time about it. I also vowed to myself to work hard and catch up so that they don’t have to do the work every week.

Group cycling like this is the perfect way to train. It’s not about one-upmanship, it’s not racing, it’s really about working together as a group: keeping in the rhythm, taking it in turns to lead (although I admit I didn’t do any leading today), encouraging each other on the hard bits, calling out ‘car back’ or ‘car front’, and pointing out potholes and obstacles in the road (I’m a bit out of practise here and found myself pointing to drain covers after we’d cycled past them). Unscripted, unplanned, but when the consensus is to be a group and move and train together, it really does flow. As the new girl to this group (I have joined other group rides before) with zero local knowledge and sub zero sense of direction I was very lucky to have the rest of the team plan and map out the route and find the right road when we got lost. And as a first timer on the infamous hill climb to Ditchling Beacon, I also benefited from loads of advice, tips and encouragement.

As the weeks go by and I get stronger, I hope to contribute more to the group, do my bit of leading, and help any future newcomers. For now, that’s another week of training complete. And tomorrow it all starts again.


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