Lunch Ride

Ride data at http://connect.garmin.com/activity/14802363 .

Today, I joined Boris (a co-worker at Model N) on the Lunch Ride. It's an excuse for all of the local fast riders to go for a spin every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon. The ride is quite fast, just under race pace. I was the youngest and least experienced rider out today, and that's saying something.

The level of experience here is really something. The stronger riders in today's ride seemed to be Cat 1 and Cat 2 racers. In terms of speed and experience, there is a big jump from collegiate racing to Pro/1/2 racing. I'm imagining races full of clones of Josh Lipka and Nick Frey. I'm looking forward to climbing yet another steep learning curve.

I spoke with some members of the SugarCRM/Los Gatos elite team. It's one of the teams in the area that I'm interested in joining; I'm still in an information gathering phase. This is probably a good time to discuss some of the things I'm looking for in an elite team, in no particular order.
  • Mentorship. Racing bicycles at a high level requires many years of experience. An elite team can have, between its members, well over a century of race knowledge. I've just begun to notice trends in races - the pace in a points race slows after a bell lap, most of the breaks get caught in road races. Though discovery is fun and useful, learning through shared experience is way more time efficient.
  • Structure. I'm pretty good about setting aside time to ride, falling into a routine, and achieving training goals. Still, having a well matched group is beneficial in setting a training and racing plan.
  • Transportation. A subtle but key point. I don't own a motor vehicle, nor do I want one. I'd like reliable carpool buddies to races. I think it's a crying shame that we need to burn so much gas to race our bicycles, but like flat tires, it's part of the sport.
  • A Compatible Approach. I couldn't think of a good single word to describe this. As a cyclist, I'm very detail oriented, and heavily favor the use of technology in obtaining real-time and after-the-fact data. I've learned so much from cyclists who are also detail-oriented and willing to patiently share what they've learned, instead of sharing generalizations and vagaries.
  • Friends. Enjoying the company of teammates on and off the bike is key to performance. Race weekends can feature 6 hours of racing, 12 hours of driving, and 10 hours of down time. I race best when I'm happy and just out to have fun. When I asked Mike Garrett why he rode with Kahala/La Grange for so many years, the answer was simple: "they're a good bunch of guys."
With all of collegiate cycling behind me, it's time to start thinking about the next level.