Today I took part in a road riding clinic held by the delightfully named Super Squadra racing team. (I really like saying “Super Squadra,” and am going to try to work it into daily conversation.) With the ride to and from Bicycle Sport Shop (meetup spot and a team sponsor), I put in 38.57 miles—officially the farthest I’ve ever ridden at a shot. We rode out to the Texas Parks and Wildlife HQ and broke into groups to work on 2×2 riding and single-file pacelining. I was mentored by a patient and kindly Squadra member named Steven, who totally did not laugh at this middle-aged lady learning to road ride. He peppered me with great tips as we rode, such as these:
1. When going down a steep descent, minimize bike wobble by keeping hands relaxed in the drops and pressing your knees against the top tube.
2. Get in the drops when it’s raining, as this position will place greater weight on the front wheel, creating a stabilizing effect.
3. Mix it up on the ascents by standing up every now and then, which changes up the muscle groups at play, giving the sitting-specific group a bit of a rest. Yes, I needed someone to tell me to do this, as I considered standing up a sign of weakness. (Where did that idea even come from? My head is like the closet where you stash stuff when company is coming over, thinking you’ll pull it all out and organize it later, except 44 years later it’s all still stacked precariously and tipping ominously to the side.)
4. Just keep riding in pacelines and soon the various protocols and etiquette will become second nature (just as driving a car becomes automatic after the first awkward years).
I’ve been doing triathlons on my mountain bike (with slicks), so I’ve only ridden by myself, because obviously I couldn’t train with any of the other folks on their zippy skinny-tired bikes. As we rode in a group today, I had to focus on not running into/trying to keep up with the person ahead of me and missed the luxury of just checking out the scenery. But I can certainly see the advantages of group riding for going farther and faster and hope it does become more automatic soon. I’m trying out that knee-pressing tip next week at the Rookie.