School of fish. Pack of wolves. Flock of birds. Surfer on a wave. When you decide to race your bike, you are assigning yourself to this kind of obedience and lack of control. Group think, primitive reflexive response to the flow and changes of the herd and conditions. You know what I am talking about? Then maybe you haven’t raced, cause when you decide to ride with a group of riders without the formality of pacelines or ride leaders, chaos ensues and the rules of how you thought you should ride your bike are out the window, and you need to become “subject to the herd”.
The good news is that once you learn the subtle art of riding with the pack, you will enjoy it and find much satisfaction from being able to fly along at twice your normal speed for hours on end, rocketing over the hills and dales of the country until the next climb starts. You will be able to take advantage of the turbo speeds, and launch yourself to the stratosphere of bike speed and performance, there is no other way to fly. The bad news is that not everyone makes the jump to good pack riding, and some of you will give up long before you ever accumulate enough skills and experience to truly enjoy the experience. There is always racing Time Trials, Triathlon, Mountain bike and Cyclocross, so don’t worry.
We just finished our annual pilgramage to the best riding in the state of Washington, Lake Chelan. You could argue that the Mount Rainier area has the most epic climbs up beasts like Chinook and Sunrise, but you can’t swim there. You could suggest that Orcas island or any of the other San Juan islands are the best, but the roads are narrow and the only good climb is Mt. Constitution. Bellingham and Olympia have their magic, as does Seattle and Tacoma, but true cycling paradise is east of the mountains where the air is dry, the roads are smooth and the traffic is light.
Here are my reasons why I love our Chelan camp:
1. Warm dry weather, some days I feel like I am in Mexico.
2. Wide shoulders and light traffic.
3. The road quality is nice, often smooth.
The thing that most new cyclists don’t know, is that they won’t die. They can push harder than they can imagine, and when I started racing I remember it was my biggest hurtle, learning how to suffer more, because that is where all the big gains are. The more I pushed myself, the more I was able to push myself, the stronger I got, the more I enjoyed riding. It helps if you get a little angry or remember when someone was mean to you, fuel for the effort. Your not going to fall off the bike even if you are near exhaustion, your already sitting down!
The focus and willingness to work hard…
This time of year everyone is getting outside and re-discovering cycling. There are some fundamental skills that caused us to create Cycle University, and this partial outline of our Road 101 curriculum will give you safe fundamentals for your next group ride. Be safe and “Get Ready to Ride!”
Welcome to Road 101: Paceline & Group Riding
Why Ride in a paceline? Continue reading