I finally found the local triathlon group! Pearland Triathlon Racing Club is composed of racers of all levels. Runners just getting into doing triathlons to regular full Ironman athletes with multiple years of tri experience.

I’ve wanted to join one of their Sunday morning rides for weeks. My schedule hasn’t been permissive though. Today was the day. I got up and went to where I thought they meet, Morgan Park, Alvin, TX.  They meet at 6 am with wheels down at 6:15. No B.S., they come to ride.  I got there about 5:45 because I was nervous and didn’t know how long it would take me to get my shit together.

6 am rolled around, the sun was coming up and I was getting very nervous. No one was there. Is there another Morgan Park? None that I could find on either Apple Maps or Google Maps….shit! shit! shit!

The last-ditch effort, I shot off a message to the group via FB Messenger.  “Where are you meeting this morning?”  Same reply, “Morgan Park”…. hmmm

“I’m here, where specifically are you?” … They gave me street names….. OH SHIT! They are at a different Morgan Park, and it’s 25 minutes away!

Disappointment and frustration ensued. The “A” group would be long gone before I arrived. I resigned myself to riding no matter what. I got up and I was motivated, so I was going to get after it.

Then, I got a message from the organizer that the “B” group wasn’t leaving until 6:30, I’d be able to make it.

YEAH! I’m on the way, I replied.

As I was pulling in, I saw the “A” group riding down the road. They were clearly the experienced Ironman athletes. I saw several TT bikes, Aero helmets and they just rode like pros. Clearly not my group.

The “B” group was in the lot waiting.  I hurriedly got my gear on and set up my bike. I was new, and they were waiting for me. I’m very grateful. It was a preview of the attitude of the group…inclusive and supportive of all athletes.

The plan was to ride 25 miles with an average speed of about 18 MPH. The “A” group was planning a 50-mile route at 20+ MPH.

This ride was very important to me for multiple reasons.

  • I have been reluctant to get back on my bike after a fall a few months ago. I needed to “Get back in the saddle again”.  I have a race next Sunday, duh.
  • I got fitted for a new saddle. I should ride on it prior to the race, right?
  • I bought a new pair of race bib shorts. These have a padded bottom. I’ve always used regular tri-shorts or running shorts.  Apparently, that’s a stupid idea and contributed to my reluctance (read: pain). My ass always hurt while I rode. I never ever got used to the pain.
  • I don’t feel confident on a road bike. It’s taking a long time for me to get used to the narrow wheels and stiff suspension (or lack of suspension). I have to get control of the bike. The only way to do it is to ride it…..The tastin’ is in the eatin’.

We set off riding the back roads. Since it was early on Sunday, the traffic was very light. My new Wahoo Elemnt was charged, synchronized with my phone and securely mounted on my bike. I’ll discuss the features of this device and some of my current riding gear in a separate post.

Humidity was 88% at 6 am! That’s Texas heat baby!  I had my Base salts and about 1.5 L of water in my Osprey hydration pack. For energy, I brought a Kind dark chocolate peanut butter bar and a Clif energy gel shot. I knew it wouldn’t take more than 2 hrs to complete the ride. The hydration & electrolyte replacement were the most important factors in this HEAT.

The log of the map is below.

There were 7 of us on the “B” team and all but 1 of us stayed with the pack. One of the riders let everyone know that they were fatigued and that they’d be riding slower. As we went along, everyone maintained status checks on the group. The leader periodically dropped back to ride with the slowest rider. Eventually, they would meet us at the pre-planned waypoints. It was great camaraderie. Is this typical with cycling/tri groups? I hope it is. I love it.

We made two planned stops and a stop at the half-way point to discuss the return route. At each stop, I made a real point to unclip my shoes BEFORE trying to stand up.  I don’t like falling over.

Johnny, my coach at Third Coast Training has been reinforcing the importance of keeping a cadence of 70 RPM.  I’ve been doing that in the gym on the stationary bikes.  It was perfect on the road!  Thanks, Johnny.

I never burned out my legs. When we sprinted, I shifted gears and tried to keep the cadence at 70 instead of just spinning super fast and burning out. What wizardry is this?

At each stop, I took a few “licks” from my BASE salts and drank a good bit of water at each stop. I was dripping with sweat. I knew I was losing electrolytes and the risk of cramping was high. So, I kept drinking liberal amounts of water.

I felt great from start to finish.

Average speeds were just under 16 MPH and we did some sprint bursts during which I hit 24 MPH.  I was so focused on maintaining my cadence, I didn’t stop to be worried about the stability of the bike.  The pieces are coming together nicely.

I did note that as we were approaching the end of the ride, I thought I could do another 10-15 miles… no problem. Then I said….fool, don’t get cocky. There will be plenty of time to work up to longer distances…The full Ironman is a 112-mile ride, so there will be lots and lots and lots of time to ride longer.  I reminded myself not to lead with my ego and stick with the plan. Trust the trainer. Plus, I have no idea how I’ll feel tomorrow!

At the end of the ride, we did a brick run.  Whoa! I didn’t anticipate that added “feature”.  Initially, I made an excuse and said no.  Someone said, we are triathletes, we do brick workouts.

The excuse felt so petty.

I did the brick…..we went for a 20 min run after the ride.

Surprisingly, my legs weren’t heavy for more than 10 steps or so. I pretty comfortably ran at a pace of ~11 minutes, but intentionally slowed to a 12.5-13″ pace.

After cooling down, several of us went to get some coffee and chat for a little while.

Like the group run, I recently did, the camaraderie coupled with healthy group competition made for a fantastic way to start the day.  Turns out most of them are training to do the Waco Ironman in October….. Oh, the peer pressure…..

I’m looking forward to joining more of their group rides.