I went out on the first FOG ride of the season this morning. Apparently, it was the first ride for almost everyone, as previous attemts had been hanpered by such trivial things as snow and freezing rain and generally nasty conditions. This morning was clear, light winds and a balmy 3°C.so the ride was a go for many people. Rene was not there and some new guy was leading the ride, so after the parking lot pre-ride instructions and a little discussion about the route, we’re off on the traditional course.
Things are pretty normal but I’m noticing that the traditional 2up riding pattern is taking for ever to form up, and there is a lot of inconsistency in the speed as well as a lot less ride etiquette that last season. Riders are falling back and cutting in mid-pack, riding 3 and 4 across etc. The ride is generally uneventful until we get to Lockport. Lockport is a traditional first stop, but for some reason the guys at the front of the line don’t stop and nobody says anything, so we push on to Selkirk. Just before Selkirk there is the traditional sprint for the town line, but it seems a little tame, and there is only one guy who breaks away with any major enthusiasm.
After the stop in Selkirk, a number of rides head back to Winnipeg, which is probably what I should have done, but the rest of the group agrees to push on the “The Big Bridge“. The approach to the Big Bridge, is another part of the course where there is traditionally a sprint to the top. Did I mention that this is my first ride of the year? This is where I knew I was in trouble. Last year, I could keep up with the first 4-6 riders in the pack, but this time I was having trouble staying with the group on the approach. As they started the climb, I just fell off the back, legs burning, just zapped as the entire group pulled away. At the re-group point on the other side of the bridge, there was a very short rolling pause, and them we rode on. This is were it starts to get ugly.
I’m struggling to keep up with the pack which has now switched up to the 35-40Kph mode. Eventually, I drop off the back and watch the pack pull away, eventually right out of site. Now I’ poking along at about 22Kph and feeling the pain. After a while I start having some unkind thoughts about the group. Weren’t they supposed to look out for riders who are struggling? weren’t hey supposed to ensure that nobody gets dropped and rides alone? By now I’m going so slow, I’m glad that nobody is slowing down for me, but hey then I spot one lone rider coming back to find me and make sure I’m OK. The group is all right after all.
I never do get to catch up the guy who came back for me as he turns around in front of me and I still can’t catch up to him. At this point I’m totally wasted. The two of us eventually re-join the group I’m guessing they had been waiting 3 or 5 minutes, perhaps more. As I rode in nobody said anything to me and I was trying very hard not the throw up. They were kind and waited one more minute before taking off again. I kept with the group for a while as we headed down Henderson Hwy, but shortly I was on my own again for the ride back to the truck. After stopping for some Goo and some fluids I felt better and was able to maintain a respectable speed for the rest of the ride.
A very tough ride for the first of the year. I’m hoping my cycle commute will get me back into shape, hopefully soon!