Saturday was my first official group training ride with the California AIDS Life Cycle folks. For a grand total of 28.5 miles, we rode from Culver City along Ballona Creek, through Santa Monica, up through Brentwood (along Bundy) to Mount St. Mary's College, through the VA, back to Culver City. Combine that with the ride to the meeting point and back, and my total for the day was almost 40 miles. Pretty cool. I discovered that I'm a strong beginner for a group cyclist. I keep a good pace, and I have good endurance. I can also climb steep hills (I did the last part of the Bundy hill 2.5 times!). Woo hoo!
I do have a lot of learn about riding in big groups. Since I am a commuter, I don't follow group rules very well. I'm not accustomed to stopping when it isn't absolutely necessary, and I am definitely not used to always yelling out signals and warnings to other cyclists. I am much more used to yelling at passing cars who are trying to run me off the road. During my worst 5 minutes on Saturday, I couldn't unclip on my right foot resulting in cutting off the ride leader. It was horrible. After he advised me to get used to alternating my feet for unclipping, I tried unclipping the left foot for the next stop sign. You can probably imagine what happened next: I proceeded to crash when I couldn't figure out how to properly shift my weight. When I replied that I didn't really hurt myself, another rider said, "But you hurt your pride." Ummm yeah...
After the training ride, we headed over to a training workshop where we didn't learn very much. Since I have already had my bike professionally fitted to my body (best decision ever!) and my only knee injuries have been a result of other activities, I didn't really learn much. It was sad. Most of what they talked about was common sports sense and the rest of it was so technical and performance-oriented that I can't see myself caring. Do I really see myself getting VO2 tested and strapping on a heart monitor?
My experiences Saturday did further elaborate something I had only vaguely perceived before: the huge cultural rifts within the biking community. I am a commuter which means that I don't care too much about speed: I'm happy to be outside and not using cars. Most of my decisions regarding gear have to do with practicality. Of the cyclists who ride on roads (as opposed to mountain-bikers), I am the extreme opposite of the weekend riders/warriors who drive their bikes to meeting points even if it is within 5 miles of their homes. I have also heard road cyclists complain about triathletes. I can't really understand this. Aren't they way more athletic and well-rounded than the rest of us? Whatever. The way I see it, the more people who ride the better. I also heard some smack-talking about bike messengers. Again, I am completely mystified. Maybe I'll better understand the more I take part in group rides.