Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Solo cycling is fine but the enjoyment for me is magnified when cycling with others. An opportunity to share past experiences, discuss future ambitions and someone to listen when you are moaning about the steepness of the latest hill. In addition for me, I find that I need to ride with cyclists who are fitter and stronger than me to take me out of my comfort zone where the average heart rate rarely, if ever, gets out of Zone 2. And so this year I have taken to seeking out groups to ride with in various parts of the country in order to meet new friends and explore different parts of the country. The added benefit is that I ride harder, faster and for longer which is what I need if I am ever going to be able to complete LondonRide100 with my son next year.
And so it was that David suggest I tried a SkyRide, and in particular the Leicester GoSkyRide Strong Plus. Reading the blurb this promised a 50km ride at a fast place, the lower limit of which was still 10% greater than my normal average. However, with David’s encouragement, I entered and got my bike prepared for the day.
However it was not a very auspicious start even though the weather was fine and the forecast good. I live about 70km from the start point and don’t know Leicester City centre at all so decided to set off early to give myself plenty of time to park and reach the start venue. In preparation I had identified a local car park near to my destination and printed off a map to get me from car to start. I arrived in Leicester about 45minutes before the ride was due to commence..only to discover that the car park was closed! I was then forced to follow the one way system around the city racing circuit until I at last espied another Car Park which was open. Time was ticking on and whilst parked, I was also lost. The local denizens had never heard of Western Boulevard and so it was Android Phone to the rescue (?) as I attempted to navigate myself across the city. By now it was 09-10 and the ride was scheduled to commence at 09-00. I was about to give up and go home when I turned a corner and saw a group of men in lycra! Could it be them? It was and they were just setting off, so with a quick hello I tagged on with the Assistant Leader waiting for me and bridging me back to the peleton. Making up a gap of only a few hundred metres can still be damned hard as the fresh legs in front sped along.
There were about 12 on the ride but after about 3km, two dropped out as they discovered that the step up from Sky EasyRide to Strong Plus was bigger than they had anticipated. We were soon out out of the city streets and heading for the country lanes towards Market Bosworth. The Leaders were excellent, setting a fast but steady pace with one always acting as Lanterne Rouge to coax and encourage anyone who was in danger of becoming detached. Despite once again giving most of them 20+ years I was surprised but grateful to manage to hold my own. The halfway point was at Market Bosworth and when we arrived the place was crammed with cyclists taking part in some road race. You could distinguish them from us as they had numbers inked onto their arms, had bikes to drool over and looked incredibly fit. Indeed it made me feel properly worn out as I sat there eating my cake and watching them storm past.
But soon we were on our way again. The route was fairly mild compared to the Derbyshire Peak District and one could chat quite easily as we rode along. There was more cycle trail riding than I had expected which tended to slow the pace down but that was probably good for me as it allowed recovery time. As we headed back to Leicester and into the back streets we turned a corner and suddenly I espied the car park where I had been forced o park. Not sure if i would ever find it again, I said my goodbyes and dismounted.
For me, an excellent ride and a very good work out with average heart rate in Zone 3.
Thanks to the Leaders for the company and encouragement and I would recommend these rides to everyone.
Details of the route are http://app.strava.com/rides/20569490
Now to find another group to impose myself on for a day :-)