Monday, December 15, 2008

Finding motivation in being dropped

**Special Thanks** All photos shown are from Veronika Lenzi and the full set can be found here. Ronnie - thanks for all of the support!

Ok, so it's been a while since I wrote something. This time it hasn't been a time issue, I just have not been inspired to write. I actually started a posting on hibernation versus motivation but every time I tried to write it I fell asleep. (I know, big collective groan for going after the obvious joke there.) There really has been a serious lack of motivation on my behalf to do much of anything.

I've decided that for me it's not a cold thing. I actually like winter, a lot, and I don't mind the cold. Something about being out in all of Mother Nature's elements makes me feel completely alive. No, for me it's always been a daylight thing. I would love winter even more if it were not for the short days. That's why I tend to hibernate during the week and go full out on weekends.

So how do I find the motivation to be better during the week? There are 2 answers really. First, I realized that after next weekend the days will start getting longer. The second is riding friends and fellow cyclists. Enter Pedro's training camp.

I learned about Pedro's training camp from my newest cycling friend Jeff who really seems to have the inside scoop on what's happening in Sonoma County. Unfortunately, that weekend was crazy busy with work. Still, my schedule did allow me to start the training camp ride on Saturday. Now if you read Pedro's description this is supposed to be a training ride. Or as he put it, "no December champions!"

I ride over to the start at around 9:50. Sarah is already there, Jeff rides up shortly after and finally Jim arrives to join us. At the designated 10:00 start time there are 60+ riders swarming around Peets just itching to hit the road. Pedro stands to make a few announcements but I only heard one of them. It was when he said "yesterday was a little too fast so all of you Cat 1's and Cat 2's need to take it easy up the climbs". This is going to be fun.

Then we're off. We start out taking things nice and easy down a bike path to avoid cars and lights. Finally we are out of town and on the open road. A peloton of 60 dressed in every color imaginable. The pace is great. No one is putting the hammer down so I am just riding along and talking with my fellow riders.

Eventually, we hit the only hill I have time to climb, Harrison Grade. You gotta love a road with Grade in it's name. It's 1.5 miles with pitches of 14% in places. Now remember, if we listened to Pedro, we are supposed to be taking it easy. And the big guns did take it easy. They just have a different definition of easy.

As we start the climb, I am near the front. My goal, stay with the lead group to the top. So up we go. The other riders immediately start to pass me as if they were riding downtown to get coffee. My heart rate is climbing even faster! About a third of the way up, I am no longer being passed but I am starting to dangle of the back of the group. I just keep telling myself to hold on to the wheel in front of me.

At the next corner we reach the steepest pitch. I tell myself to dig deep. I just start to drop when I accelerate and get back with the group. I am still with the group but while they are chatting and easily spinning their way to the top, I am practicing how to gasp for air quietly. At about two thirds of the way up, the pitch levels out just a bit before the final push. This is where I was dropped. I did manage to to keep them in sight to the top. In the end, I am guessing I climbed Harrison Grade at least 3 minutes faster then ever before. This is where the motivation started.

A group of us with some time constraints settled into a leisurely ride back with Sarah, Jim and I enjoying a post ride coffee and chat. All-in-all it was a great day. Riding with a few hammerheads on a regular basis is bound to make me a better rider. I like the ideal of riding with large groups and taking the opportunity to push myself. Thinking about this fanned the motivational flames a little more.

In Sarahs' blog, she talks about how this ride reaffirmed her love of cycling. And that's where I am today. Once again remembering why I ride. And while I plan on fewer miles next year that doesn't mean I can't make them count. So my basic goal for 2009 will simply be to become stronger and faster on the bike.

If Jeff continues to tell me about great rides like the ones Pedro just put together, I will also have a lot of fun in the process.


3 Comment(s):

Sarah said...

AWESOME ride report, Lee!! I cracked up when I read "practicing how to gasp for air quietly." OMG that was TOTALLY me, too!

What a fun day, thanks for helping me relive the ride one more time. And way to be on the climb! I think our collective goal should be to ride all 3 days next year and stay with the pack. While spending the year riding less miles. :)

Nicole said...

Between your blog and Sarah's I've resolved to learn to love cycling now the trainer and the bike are in the same room...not quite hooked up yet...can't rush my love!! :) Sounds like a fun ride Lee even with the quiet gasping for air!

pedro said...

Lee, nice job out there... we've all been in that position, looking at the guy (gal) next to us thinking, but not saying, "shut the --- up!, I can't breath or talk and your not having any trouble at all is so annoying!!!" ;)