New Gen Gets All the Fun

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Did you have access to a cycling team when you were in high school? I remember being in my high school math class and there was an announcement over the PA on a Monday morning. Blah, blah, blah and then something about our bike team winning a race. I thought, “Huh, we have a bike racing team?” I had no idea. The team consisted of four to six guys, two of them were in the upcoming spring play with me and I didn’t know that either one even rode a bike. Then what followed was the math teacher saying my name repeatedly to break me out of my dumfounded state of consciousness.

How did I miss this opportunity? I still don’t know, but a friend of mine, Larry,  saw this article and sent it my direction. I wondered why we don’t see more cycling in high school. Find the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) on Facebook and give them a like. Also you can donate online to help their efforts. Mountain biking is a far more attractive option for our young racers in training. What a great way to learn how to handle a bike and perfect your skills with balance and agility. At the end of nearly every sentence I kept moaning, “Where was this when I was in high school?”

Personally I did not find a place with traditional sports in high school. I was easily discouraged. I enjoyed volleyball the most, but I had the impression I was supposed to be good right away and I wasn’t. I thought you went to practice and learned about the game, whatever the game. I parted ways with the idea that I’d be able to learn a sport and put my focus in other areas. I kept riding my bike to school and work at my after school job.

“A lot of these kids have done football, baseball, and haven’t really found their place in traditional sports,” says Shaun Anderson, who coaches the Cuyuna Lakes team in northern Minnesota. “They find this and it’s given them a home.”

Truth be told, I’m older than the mountain bike, but younger than Gary Fisher.  I’ll donate what I can to help the efforts of NICA! The next generation can count on me to support their riding.

Good job team! Read more about NICA here.

What do you think? Wish you had something like this? Were you lucky enough to be on a team in your youth? I would have loved to letter in mountain biking!

Have a great week.

Be safe and get out there an ride.

BG

 

 

 

 

 

Clubs & Group Riding

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Summer 2015 I stretched myself a bit on the social front and decided to go on a group ride. The Vancouver Bicycle Club is a great organization and I often see groups out and about while I’m commuting to and from work. This was my summer to seize the moment and give it a whirl. I checked out the site and found the Tuesday Friend ride was a good fit. A nice place to start. Clay is the leader.  I didn’t know what to expect. Group riding is the place to learn how to riding with others. You are in a situation where you need to point out road’s infinite imperfections to the riders behind you. Plus you signal left and right and call out “Car back” and help your fellow riders pay attention. It’s a nice change of pace and you get to socialize. Plus, someone else drives and you fall in behind. Also a fantastic way to learn new routes.

My first group ride with VBC was about 10 riders strong and I was one of three women. I found this surprising. Exciting that other women were present, but they didn’t socialize much with me. They were friends, so they talked with one another.  Once of the women was new to cycling. She bought a bike about a year ago and she was going on her first 40 mile ride on the upcoming Saturday. She was extremely nervous about it. The men were telling her how to eat and when to drink. The common advice about drinking before you’re thirsty and eat before you’re hungry. They talked about energy bars and goos.

I had forgotten the tendency cyclists have to bloviate and brag about rides of yore. My sage advice was simply to ride as your own pace. If the ride isn’t a competition, then dial it back and enjoy the day. You have to decide when you want to push it and when you need to pull back. I waxed on about a Seattle to Portland ride of some years gone by when I tried to ride in a group that was going about 18 mph. I was holding my own for 25 minutes and then I bonked. Bonked big!  I waved them on and I pulled over. I staggered to a stop and sat down with my bike on my knees. Everything got black. My eyes were open and I could not see. It was 90 degree out and I was shivering.  I stuck my head between my knees and ate a Power Bar while hearing a chorus of people ask me if I was okay. I thought I was going to die. As my vision returned and I guzzled the water I realized I suffered a classic bonk. I learned a valuable lesson that hot July day about hydration and energy. Not everyone’s pace is the same. You have to take care of yourself and know your limits.

“You did the STP?” A member asked. “We probably saw one another. Back in the day when that ride was only 4000 riders.” We swapped food suggestions. Listening to the banter reminded me on a big family reunion where everyone remembers something. “Those red potatoes. Boil those up with a little salt. That’s better than an energy bar.” Another suggested.

“Peanut butter on apples.”

Another said, “Bananas, always bananas!”

Three summer rides with the guys and a few gals of the VBC and I’m hooked. Group rides, especially with the right group, are highly recommended. Group rides remind you that you’re not alone out there; strength in numbers when you’re out on the main roads and navigating the backroads. There’s a sense of camaraderie and friendship even if you just met everyone. Someone has your back and there’s an energy that helps you keep up and motivates you to ride strong. As is often the case with me, I overdo it. I wanted to try the other weekly rides, like the Earthquake ride, but instead I became a card carrying member and stick to the friendly Tuesday ride. I couldn’t go with them today. I took off earlier and did the route but without the group. How odd it was! I got a few things wrong in the route and I missed Tony, Dave and Steve, plus there’s a guy who smokes a pipe as a rest stop. At first I was slightly shocked by this and now it doesn’t faze me.

Not every group will be the right fit. Nor will every ride. But you should try. When it’s good, it’s great and you make friends and learn about life outside your bubble.

When you miss the group, that’s when you know a group ride is working for you.