The Saturday morning beach ride has become one of my favorite rides. I wanted to do the ride last year but I wasn't fast enough, nor did I have the skills to do a "fast" ride. "Fast" is absolutely relative in my eyes because this ride is "fun" to Karel, Jeff, Curtis and Clint (and maybe one or two others). For these guys, they like to have fun on this ride, at everyone's expense. However, the other guys (hoping to stay on a wheel and rotate) on this ride keep coming back for more because there is nothing like getting a good workout in the morning and feeling the good kind of exhaustion after the final sprint.
Two weeks after IMKY I started doing this ride and have been successful for most of the ride with a few rotations every Saturday to really bring up my HR. I love riding my road bike and haven't even thought about my tri bike since I hung it on the wall on September 1st.
Because of Karel's racing schedule and a few MTB workouts, I haven't been able to ride with Karel for the Saturday morning group ride. I was really excited this past Saturday because Karel was there with me and I couldn't wait to show him how my skills have improved. Of course I overwhelm him with details after the ride but I'm sure he was ready to see his wife in action. Of course, with my hubby making us all suffer, I knew this would be a more-than-difficult ride for me.
After we did an hour warm-up with our friends Stephanie and Sean (both great MTBers) we caught the A and B group right before the Nocatee bridge. We had already done the bridge 2 times so my post 6 gap legs were enjoying the bumpidy-bumps here in Florida. The last time I did this ride, I got dropped from the A group before the ride even started (I had to catch back on by making a turn in the middle of the ride) so I booked it down the bridge so I wouldn't get dropped before the first turn. I love this ride because there are several u-turns, left turns, right turns, round about's and developing roads. There are lots of times for me to work on my skills and confidence on the bike.
It took me a few miles to get my HR under control and I was finally able to get in a few rotations. Because of the pace of the group with Karel and Clint, I was having a tough time that morning. Perhaps my legs were sore from 6-gap but I knew I had it in me to ride with the guys. Luckily, this ride is intense but short. Around 50-55 miles with 10-15 miles warm-up and around 5 miles warm-down.
The real reason why this ride was so good (besides Karel giving me a smile here and there and telling me good job and "stay on my wheel") was that all the guys were super nice to me. I had so many guys drop back a bit to bring me back to the group after a u-turn (I'm not so good on the turns, I tend to brake too much) and give me words of encouragement here and there. There really isn't much talking but I could tell that the guys really wanted me to hang on. As for my legs, they didn't want to hang on towards the end so I did all I could to suffer for most of the ride. I ended up getting droped as we were heading back towards the Nocatee bridge. I could see the group getting further and further away but I was still pushing. There was a light ahead and I was just hoping for a really long red light. I was looking at the light and it was still green. Yellow, please turn yellow....as the guys went under the green light I knew my ride with them was over. Although the ride starts with around 30-40 guys, it ends up being a group of 15 or so for the final sprint. I knew I didn't have it in me to hang on for the final sprint on Ponte Vedra so I was just enjoying my morning on the bike and remembering all of the small accomplishments I have made overtime.
As I was heading back to Jax beach, I was thinking about how afraid I was on the bike when I started. First, with my tri bike, it took me a good 4-5 months to even use my aero bars. After several times of falling or making only right hand turns, I learned how to clip out of my pedals. Next came getting out of my saddle. Wow, it felt great to be able to stand up on my bike. Then with my road bike, I learned how to change gears in my drops. Even several years later on my tri bike (last summer) I still had trouble descending on the clearwater bridge in the wind.
I guess for some people, riding a bike is second nature. For me, the water has always been my life. I don't have to think when I swim, it is all habit for me to be in the water and swim for however long I want to feel like I fish. I am starting to feel one with my bike but I still have a long way to go to really feel comfortable. Of course, when I ride with Karel, I am at ease but I always work on my skills when I ride. I am looking forward to many more Sat morning beach rides. I keep telling myself, the only way to get faster is to ride with people faster than myself.
I was super excited to ride with Karel this morning. We don't get to ride with each other that often since I am an early morning rider (7am or when the sun comes up) whereas Karel rides before he has to work (the Trek store opens at 11am). This morning we headed out at 7:15 for a tempo 35 mile ride. Karel is exceptional at keeping a steady pace and with both of us having a power meter to rely on, we both get a great workout when we ride together.
The ride was going well and Karel did a few tempo intervals. Of course, I am focusing on staying on his wheel because the last thing I need is me getting dropped from my hubby and riding alone until he figures out that I am dropped (this has happened to us many times).
After 15 miles we were about to head back to our place but I asked Karel if we could ride a bit longer. He said of course as we sat at a red light, waiting for the green turn arrow. When the light turned green, we made a left hand turn to head on a different road. As we were making the left turn at the light, I see a car (wanting to make a right turn on the opposite side of the road) who was not yielding to Karel as he made his left hand turn. Karel was about to get into the bike lane but the car wanted to make his right. Luckily, the car stopped after Karel made a hand signal to stop so Karel could keep moving.
Well, the car was not so nice to me and the driver turn right in front of me as I was approaching the bike lane.
Luckily, he had his window down and I yelled at him "Hey, hey, hey". It just kinda came out because I had to swerve into the other lane in order to miss the left side of his car.
This really made Karel upset because not only did this driver try to hit Karel but he barely missed me. Karel and I started riding and we noticed that the car was turning around up ahead. I thought that the car wanted to apologize to us so Karel biked on ahead and I stopped at a corner. I could see Karel in the distance talking to this guy and after a few minutes, I see Karel moving his hands a lot and the driver gets out of the car. This is not typical of Karel (or myself). We don't fight with cars or drivers. Most of the time, I just give a wave when a driver honks at me for being on the road with my bike. The majority of the time, I thank drivers and give them a nice big smile and wave when they stop. In my opinion, if a driver has one bad incident with a cyclist, they will hate all bikers. However, if a driver has a good experience with a cyclist, they will be nice to people on bikes.
Well, this guy wants all bikes off the road. Karel went up to the car and the first thing that the guy says is "You should be on the sidewalk, you shouldn't be on the road!" Karel was really calm and told him that we have rights like cars and that we had the right away. This guy started going off at Karel, saying very, very mean things and just kept going on and on that he hates people like us.
I'm sure we have all had our run-in's with nasty drivers and I'm sure we all have not obeyed the rules of the road (ex. riding through a red light at 6:30am with no other cars on the road). When we ride in groups, I'm sure we feel more powerful and when we ride alone we feel like every car is out to get us.
As soon as I got home I looked up the bike laws for cycling in Florida. I think that every cyclist out there should carefully read the bike laws for their state. If you have a problem with the bike laws or feel like you want to change something with the law, contact your senator or state representative or maybe you have a bike organization for the state. The Trek corporation is really big on "go by bike" and creating a better world for people and their bikes.
I know we probably shouldn't wear our headphones when we ride, but most of us do (especially when we ride alone). We probably make illegal turns when we shouldn't and we probably take up too much of the road when we ride in a group. If we want to reduce the number of fatal accidents from uninformed and careless drivers (which are always in a hurry), then we also need to do our best to obey the rules of the road.
FYI - corporate office parks and developing neighborhoods (at the right time of the day) are great for fast, group rides. If you can find a 2-3 mile circuit/loop and get 10-15 people together, you can have one exceptional workout and a super safe ride.
Here are the bike laws in Florida.
FL bike laws