Saturday, 12 December 2015

A road cycling dilemma

This morning I was meant to go on a ladies ride that Rapha organised. I haven't been on my road ride for a while and noticed that I had a slow puncture. 

If you don't keep your finger on the pulse in terms of maintaining your bike and using your kit regularly you will end up like I did this morning; trying to eat breakfast whilst searching for a slow puncture, found it, used old fashioned glue patches to patch it, then I went to my room to fetch my lights as I'm halfway down the stairs I remember my sunglasses. 

Finally outside with my fixed wheel I go to the garage to collect my bike. I always battle squeezing the wheel back in through the brake pads, wasting more time, then I pump up my back tyre and finally ready to go, but realising there is no chance that I'll make it to Esher for 9:00. 

Back into the house again noticing that I didn't take my helmet! 

What to do now? I'm not making that ride, I'm awake, dressed and ready to ride. Do I try and find a ride buddy or do I just ride on my own? 

Decision made: I'll ride on my own. 

I went up Cottenham Park Drive along Wimbledon Common, down to Putney and through Roehampton entering the park via the dreaded and well known Priory lane. 

As I came near to the park I realised... mmm London Dynamo rides Saturday mornings in the park. Not ideal. 

I started my lap regardless. 

The first group of about 12 riders past me in silence. 

The second group caught me as I was almost at the top of Dark Hill, the 4th rider was the first to say allo to me. One more morning and that is it. At the top they regrouped, I was holding their pace and that is where my dilemma occurred...

They were chainganging it... for those who don't know, two rows of riders ride next to each other and they rotate anti-clockwise to each take a turn at the front. This is a beautiful thing to see when it is executed well like they were doing it. 

Where does this leave me? 

I can easily keep the pace and join their chaingang OR I can overtake them just to upset them and myself as I'll well out of my comfort zone and not be able to hold their pace on my own? 

I have favourite sections in the park where I like to open up a bit if I'm possible. 

I sat about 2 meters behind their chaingang. We went down Dark Hill. I stayed behind their last rider and didn't overtake him, he caught up with them, I dropped off a little bit, but then caught up with them on their way back to Roehampton Gate. 

Next problem, cars are coming from the front, their group is splitting up, I'm on the outside... The friendly ride captain tell me to jump on his wheel which I did. Suddenly I'm in their chaingang. I'm well capable of being their, but somehow they don't really know what to do with me as now I've messed up their perfectly organised formation. 

We turned the corner at Roehampton Gate and I was on the outside near the front, I wasn't sure if I should pull over to the left to drop back to the back again or what I should do.... So I accelerated a little so that I'm in front of them and not part of their formation. I took a left up to the Ballet School and they went straight on towards Sawyers Hill. 

I don't like riding on my own, so it was quite nice to be in the mix and realise that I was able to keep up with them. 

I cruised along towards Ham Gate as I took a left turn to go down the dip at Ham towards Kingston Gate (one of my favourite sections of the park).  I saw two groups of Dynamos coming down from Pembroke Lodge. I really hoped that it wasn't them and that it was the fast group. 

I kept on riding and as we got to Dark Hill again, their they catch me again, some of them commented here you are again at which I didn't reply as I could feel that I haven't really been riding on my roadbike lately and was paying the price for it. Needless to say they came past me, dropped me and carried on, I took a right and left the park through Ladderstile Gate. 

I am really glad that I've been for a ride, but can't help to think what would've been the right thing to do? 

My options were: 

1. I should've asked if I could join their chaingang 
2. They could've offered that I join
3. Should I have stopped to give them some space so that I didn't get caught in their mix of things again? 
4. I could've over taken them, but that would just be arrogant as then they'll hunt me down and all I wanted was a chilled ride in the park. 

Maybe if I felt different today I would've asked, but I didn't. :-)

Ps. See with mountain biking we would've just talked to each other or waited a little bit to give a gap... 

Pss. Why didn't I think to do that, surely that the principle would've paid off on the road as well. Next time!