Back in 2009 when I was training hard for my attempt at completing Ironman Germany I took myself out of my ‘comfort zone’ by tagging along with COLTs ‘A’ ride. The club has two weekend rides, the Sunday ride or ‘B’ ride which is at a pace that most people could easily keep up with and lasts 2-3 hours normally. It also after an hour splits into a ‘C’ ride to allow the different paces to be catered for. This works really well and means that no one should get left behind.
The ‘A’ ride goes out at 7am on a Saturday morning and usually lasts anywhere from 3 – 6 hours. The difference not only being time / distance but the speed. This is inevitable when you look at who is usually on the ride: 4 Kona qualifiers, 3 sub 11 ironmen, norseman and embrunman finishers. Also take into account that they race 2-3 ironman races a year, the training is pretty much always in top gear. Back in 2009 I’d go out and try to hang on for an hour before getting dropped and riding on my own to my own plan. Eventually I got so I could stay in touch for the whole ride, a couple of times reaching a 100 miles. This was a successful strategy for me as my cycling improved immensely.
So with that in mind, this past Saturday I bit the bullet and dragged myself out of bed at 6am to see if I could hang on to the A-Team. The weather was awful, driving rain and buffeting winds. I was geared up with thermal gear as the sun didn’t rise until about 30 minutes into the ride. Four of us were there, all Ironmen, all preparing for races. John Knapp peaking for Arizona next month took the lead and set the pace out along the valley into the Cumbrian hills. John Towse tucked in, spinning the legs in preparation for Ironman St George. And myself and Andy Ley, new to the A-ride starting our long-range assault on Ironman Lanzarote.
The pace was brisk, but surprisingly I managed to stay with it. After an hour we reached Kirkby Lonsdale and I informed my mates that when they turned right to head further out towards Sedburgh, that I’d swing left and head home along the other side of the river. This had always been my intention as a) I didn’t want to destroy myself first time out and b) unfortunately I had to get back to go to work.
By the time I got home I’d done 32 miles in 2 hours, and felt as fresh as a daisy. Quite chuffed that I hadn’t been left for dead in the first 500m ( it’s happened once in 2009 ! ). The other lads ended up doing just over 70 miles, I hope to be able to build up to that soon. I’ll be back out this Saturday with them.
Hopefully a hard winter of long rides with riders stronger and faster than me will bring my cycling ability back up to speed. It’s time to forget about comfort and focus on advancement. And that’s why I’ve joined the A-Team.
If you don’t already know I write a weekly column for a USA based website called EveryManTri. This weeks column is all about my attitude to swimming, and how joining the COLT coached session has helped me to embrace my inner-dolphin, or something like that. Have a read: The Cold Dark waters of the United Kingdom