Approximately 1.75 laps into this morning’s team bike ride in Central Park, I got dropped. I hung tight with the all-girl “racing team” group during the first 6.2-mile loop, but as we powered up Harlem Hill for the second time, a gap began to emerge. I couldn’t find the next gear (both figuratively and somewhat literally), and even though I fought to maintain contact, the distance slowly grew until two of the three girls were out of sight.
Too bad the snazzy red grip tape didn’t help.
This was the first time I’ve been dropped, and it stinks. A lot. Defeat, frustration, inadequacy. Yes, it’s a cycling/triathloning rite of passage, but that doesn’t make it any better.
Prior to getting dropped, I received feedback and lots of tough love from one of my coaches. As the ladies and I took turns pulling or leading the pace line, he yelled and told me to get off the hoods and use the drops. (This lower position helps the rider conserve energy and be more aerodynamic.)
Throwback from the DeRuyter Lake Triathlon–this is hood riding. The drops are the white, lower sections on the handlebars.
I hesitated before holding the drops—recent wipe out, anyone?—and even though I eventually got there, he totally called me out: “You’re afraid of your drops!” Afraid? Meh. Anxious? Yeah. Hey, I’m a biking newbie. But it ended up being fine. During this part of practice, he also barked at helped me with shifting and general technique, but I was on my own once the group separated at Harlem Hill.
After completing the third loop solo, I pulled over at our group’s meet-up spot, and my coach and I developed a rough game plan. Bottom line: I need to spend more time in the saddle. The best way to improve as a cyclist is to ride, so that’s what needs to happen. Based on my Nautica South Beach results, I knew my bike needed work, but what I haven’t totally accepted until recently is it’s where I have the most room for improvement (read: this is where I need to improve). Yes, I want to get better across the disciplines, but as of now, the bike has turned into my new triathlon “Achilles heel.” Point blank, our group rides in Central Park prove to be the most challenging, and I feel the least confident in the saddle, which is mainly due to inexperience. And most triathletes will tell you the race is won on the bike, so if I want to put myself in a position to do well in August, then I need to make logging miles a high, high priority. And for what it’s worth, I tried playing the newbie card—which is true because I’ve been riding for less than one year—but my coach didn’t buy it. His response? “When you’re on the podium, you’re no longer a beginner.” He had more nice things to say, but we don’t need to go into that … moving on …
So what’s the plan? Since Montauk is only 10 days away (yaya!), I’m not changing anything for the time being. Afterward, though, my coach recommended removing my aerobars for the group rides in Central Park, which will make it easier to use my drops (aka he’ll force me to use my drops). Then for weekend riding, I should reattach the aerobars and practice.
And just so this post isn’t all about biking …
Post-ride, I inhaled this bowl of overnight oats that included banana, frozen blueberries, plain Greek yogurt, almond milk, old-fashioned oats, chia seeds, and cinnamon.
It hit the spot, but I’ll definitely need a snack before work.
How do you handle tough love?