Okay so it has been a month since I joined BCC and thought it was time to share my initial thoughts from 5 weeks worth of rides. First of all, last year I would be riding on Kingston Road on my own usually out to Lawson and then to Island Road to Rouge Park, along Lawrence and back to Kingston Road, Warden and home. Most Saturday & Sunday mornings I would see different groups, usually on my way home as the various groups were heading out towards Lawrence. I decided to check out this BCC, and a few weeks after last year's Ride for Heart came out, gave Dan my waiver and joined what I thought was a slow Zoo group. That day I spent a lot of my time just trying to catch up and at Meadowvale & Finch though I heard some people calling my name, but maybe I was hallucinating from the lack of oxygen. I hurried along Finch, turned up Reesor and finally caught a group that had been stopped by a train at the first crossing. Imagine my surprise when I learned that they were heading to Stouffville and beyond, and that maybe those people were calling my name back at that corner. I turned at Steeles, went to Plug Hat and then somehow found Altona, Kingston Road and finally found my way home with my tail tucked between my legs. That day I decided maybe I needed more of a base and kept riding solo and waving to the groups as we passed one another along Kingston Road, usually in different directions.
Winter saw me spending more time on the trainer, and thinking about what to do as far as goals for 2013. I spent the spring riding outdoors when the weather allowed, or on the trainer, and spent Sunday mornings in March and early April finishing my ride then watching the spring classics like Milan San Remo, Tour of Flanders or Paris Roubaix streamimg live on my laptop.
Then one Saturday I had just turned onto Lawrence from Kingston Road and there was a fast BCC group passing me. I could tell they were too fast, but knew if a waited I would probably find more groups more to my liking. That afternoon I decided to join the club and came out the next day for my first ride. There was Dan standing on a bench begging for the fast guys to sort themselves out and get across the street, trying to get us organized and on the road. Then I was sitting at the back of a group heading to Unionville and watching how ridiers were pointing out potholes and telling others about cars either coming behind us, coming towards us, or saying they were stopping, slowing or rolling. What had a gotten myself into? Then on top of all this there was the mystery of the double paceline. I had read the Riders Notes, even twice but reading about a double paceline and actually riding in one were two different things. How could I ever feel comfortable riding that close to another rider and what would happen when my turn at the front came?
Well in the last weeks I have learned how to watch other riders and see how they ride, and although my times at the front have been few and far between, that is because I am usually near or at the back, watching and learning. Oh sure, Dan and Jason are there telling me to close that gap to the rider in front of me, not to look down when clipping in after a light, or how to approach a hill and let the hill not win. In their absence Jon will take their place, and last week when Dan and Lana were in Niagara cheering on the team, I had the tattooed face on Andre's right rear calf staring at me, imploring me to keep trying and stay on. We have since named him Little Dan, since the resemblance is spooky.
The second Sunday was that special day we went to Unionville via 19th and everything was perfectly aligned and synced and we rode like we had been riding together forever. Dan even coined that phrase "#lookingpro", which summed it all up perfectly. The following Sunday I had nothing and on 16th there was Dan telling me to get on his wheel and pulling me back to the others, and a few times he lent me his hand and literally pushed me along, when he wasn't doing the same for Jason and Blurple that fateful day,
Today was another day spent at or near the back, chasing back on and trying not to embarrass myself. The strange thing is that I actually felt good. I think I told Evan when he dropped back to check on me that I was feeling great, but that it appeared the others felt even better. Turning off 19th onto Kennedy was a relief to feel a tailwind and running into Unionville at 40 km/hr was a nice change.
Next week I will be back for more of the same, but feel that every week I am gaining more knowledge, feeling stronger as a rider, and more comfortable riding in a group. Thanks to everyone who has made me feel welcome and encouragement me along the way, either in person or by giving me kudos on Strava. You know someone is on Strava when they start winding up before a segment, then back off a bit when it ends. I have seen that more than a few times along the Clonmore Canter. But boy does it feel good to get those little pieces of cheese along the way!
See you on the roads!