All I did was post a short message on the Reading CTC forum asking about upcoming 100km rides, and the next thing I know I’m dressed in lycra and heading out at 9am on a Sunday morning!
Now, first of all, it is 24 km using the direct route from my local country park to Henley-on-Thames. The true joy of this ride for me was turning that 24km into 42km, just by using somewhat circuitous routes! By the time I got back I’d covered 66km, and was completely shattered, but really, really happy that I got out and did it.
It was a small group of riders – Martin, Darren, James and Ian, the ride leader. Everyone was super friendly and Darren in particular gave me loads of tips on cycling, and I was especially grateful for his moral support up the one small, but tough for me, hill. Special thanks also to Ian for leading a great ride and not taking the direct path. I appreciate it all. Thanks guys!
I’d also heard that CTC were a down to earth bunch who were more out for the joy of cycling, and this was certainly true. Sometimes on sportives etc, it can seem to be a bit of a comparison of who has got the most fanciest road bike, or kit, or who is fastest. Well, I meet none of those criteria today, and it really didn’t matter. I felt very welcomed and the group were just nice folks out to ride their bikes. No other agendas here.
CTC are all about cycling touring, thus the lack of direct routes, but I was very happy to be on this ride because I would never have done it on my own. Average speed was bang in the centre of the “Moderate” pace bracket and whilst I tended to be at the back there weren’t many occasions when the group had to wait more than a couple of minutes for me. I felt like I fitted better in this group in terms of speed than I have in other groups, but the cool thing is that I was pushing myself throughout this ride. It was not easy to maintain the speed that I did over this distance, and with a pretty constant wind too, and towards the end of the ride I seriously started fantasising about stretching out what felt like my solid quads. They had reached lactate threshold and gone beyond! I might have been more comfortable in the “leisurely” category but if you want to be a faster cyclist, ride with faster cyclists. I kept reminding myself, as my quads burned, that this was good for me!
Considering that my usual interval training set consists of 1 minute intervals at about 164 bpm in terms of heart rate, this ride put me in that bracket on several occasions. I could certainly tell I was at lactate threshold! Great workout though, and this ride helped my aerobic capacity plus my worked at threshold helps train the muscles to get used to clearing lactate quicker. So not only was it a very pleasant adventure and a chance to meet some lovely people, it was a very good training session too.
The Trainer and I have talked about training being just that. Results don’t really matter until you’re at the event you’ve been working towards. It’s just training. So today was a tough session for me and I was concerned that it felt so tough, but you know what – it’s just training. That’s OK that my quads ceased up, that I messed up fuelling, that there were parts that psychologically I found hard. We do all that challenging stuff in training so that when we event, we don’t have to! There were parts that I was about to start beating myself up about how hard I was finding up, but reminding myself that (a) I was keeping up with the group and (b) this is just training, really helped and changing my mindset turned the session from a tough training set to an enjoyable exploration on two wheels.
I’ve set a goal of completing an imperial century in January 2016. Will I make it? I don’t know, I found today really tough. Lack of stretching after a 5k last night didn’t help, and I’ve not done a great job of pre-fuelling, but no excuses – I found this ride challenging. But I do know that I will never get to an imperial century if I don’t keep at it, so the plan is to ride, ride, ride! It’s fantastic that there are great groups out there that I can ride with and I’m interested in trying a leisurely ride with CTC to see if I can enjoy a Z1 session whilst enjoying the exploration.
Here I am after the ride. There were bits of offroad but not much although I seemed to pick up enough mud pretty much all over. Oh well, it shows I was out there today #makingithappen!
Oh, and I also experienced a first. Strava told me that I had done an “EXTREME” ride! Go me!
I will certainly aim to ride with CTC again and can definitely recommend them to anyone just wanting to get some miles in with friendly cycling folks.