Juan (Aracena Cycling Coaching) invited me to ride this past Wednesday morning so that he could assess my starting point in order to begin the coaching process. My goals are pretty simple:
- I would like to improve my general cycling skills (I began teaching indoor cycling in 2006 and wanted to be a better teacher so began cycling in 2007 at the age of 48. My students have told me that I am a good teacher and coach but I know that I have a long way to go before I feel really solid going downhill at 60kph, climb to what I believe is my potential and fell really comfortable riding in the drops)
- I would like to finish Campagnolo Gran Fondo NY in under 8 hours in 2016; I have never finished in under 9
- I would like to improve my coaching ability
There was really nothing formal about the scheduled ride so I posted it on FB and was happy to see that my friend Tom decided to join us. (By the way if you are interested in joining us for a weekend ride please visit the Gavia Cycling FB page). As we were leaving the parking lot Leo joined us as well and off we went. To give you and idea of who I was riding with:
- Juan have been a cyclist for longer that he will admit, has been coaching cyclists for more years than he will admit, and has been the NJ Masters Champion
- Tom participates in 12 and 24 hour time trials (yes, you read it right)
- Leo is simply a beast of a cyclist
Thankfully Tom was out for a recovery ride so I only had to kill myself to keep up; the other two guys went ahead of us in River Road and only had to come back down about 100 meters at the top of Alpine to put the group back together. Off we went to 9W, around the back to Tweed (Leo went off to the right and headed back) and Juan, Tom and I headed to Nyack for a snack at True Foods.
We rode Tweed back, those hills are always fun headed south, then 9W into the park and home. During our ride back Juan spent some time working with me, teaching me proper technique related to riding in the drops, tugging on my handlebars from time to time to teach me balance and then showing me how to stand up, climbing State Line in the drops with a heavier gear than normal so that I could practice the side to side movement of the bike while leaning over the handlebars. In this case it pays to be heavier than light as the upper movement helps improve your speed uphill – if one were to use the words “speed” and “uphill” in the same sentence when describing my cycling…….
For the Strava gang, no surprise that I had 23 PR’s riding with these guys; more importantly I was required to ride at a higher level than I could ride on my own – the biggest benefit of riding with people better than you. I would encourage cyclists of all levels to do that from time to time – ride with people better than you even if they aren’t going to coach you or wait for you. Let them know ahead of time that you would like to join the ride, even if it is for a short period of time. I learned from my friend Juan Carlos a while ago that if the general makeup of the group is a little stronger than your level, try to remain in the middle of the group. If you begin to detach the people behind you will simply pass; if the group is large enough you will recover while some of the group pass you and still won’t get shelled out the back. Typically though, there is always someone who is happy to help bridge you back up. The exception – when the group is a training group and you see them riding single file, time trialing or pace lining; let them be, they are involved in serious training and we ought not disturb that.
One of the things I like most about cycling is the social aspect of the sport. In no other sport are the fans able to get so close to the professionals before, during and after the event; in training we all ride the same roads and for the most part everyone is really nice. If you are new to the sport it is pretty easy to find a group of people to ride with and if you are trying to improve, just find a better group; you will develop relationships with some really great people and improve just by showing up and riding your bike, as I did on Wednesday……
There is no barrier to entry – just get on your bike and go!