It gets cold here sometimes. I left at 6:45 this morning and it was in the low 50s. Not cold for November by Wisconsin standards, but pretty chilly when you have shorts and a short-sleeved jersey on. So glad I left my arm warmers back inside the locked house. When I showed up for the ride, some guys had toe warmers and beanies on, no one had bare arms, few had bare legs… except me. I wore them like a Sconnie badge of courage.
An 85 mile “group ride” in San Antonio, Florida is actually a training ride. I lined up with about 30 Spanish-speaking South American Cat 1s to take off. They weighed about a buck-thirty and their thighs were the size of pumpkins. I was starting to feel like the minnow in a shark tank. We took off and I was in the “A” group which meant once we got rolling, an average speed in the high 20’s. I’m pretty sure I spit out my heart and at least 1 lung by mile 30. Thankfully, we stopped to refill bottles at 43 miles, and the South American freaks of nature kept going. Even though I was able to hang on up to that point, I was pretty sure I would have been left behind shortly afterward if I had stayed with them. We re-formed an “A-” group, took the pace down a couple notches for 5 or 6 miles, then ramped it back up.
Central Florida is hilly. Not Colorado hilly, but Minnesota hilly. We had over 2,500 feet of climbing in 60 miles. I had no idea. I just assumed the whole state was flat.
There’s a giant douche-bag in every big, open group ride, and Florida is no exception. Mr. Steroid McSprintalot was not there to make friends today, he was there to slowly zig-zag his way up hills and then crush the sprints. Nothing like a guy who can’t hold a line dropping F-bombs on me as I pass him because I didn’t call out “on your right!”. Whatever. Douche-bag. Everyone else was pretty cool, except the South Americans might have been calling me the douche-bag and I just didn’t understand them…
Pacelines have not made their way to Florida yet. 70+ people, and the whole group rides 1,2,3 & 4 up with the strong guys just staying in front, sometimes way over the centerline. It was bizarre. I would tuck in behind someone, waiting to take a pull, and then 3 or 4 guys would eventually just pull around and spread out. No organization, no working together.
Sitting up and blocking HAVE made their way here. This was a group ride, but anytime a teammate went off the front, the other guys on the team would block. WTF? This is a group ride, not Superweek.
All in all, it’s pretty cool to show up to a parking lot at dawn a thousand miles from home and have more than 70 other people there ready to get after it. Cycling is cycling, and almost everyone I talked to today (when I could talk) was really cool and there for the same reason as me.