Malcolm book "Outliers" is an easy read and an interesting case study of success. Not about cycling, but just about success in general. He theorizes that although to master a skill some talent is needed, it's basically practice, practice, practice that makes you excellent at something. He proposes that it takes 10,000 hours of doing something to become truly proficient. I mean super duper excellent at it. Of course long before 10,000 hours you can be good at something, thank goodness, or you would lose interest. But the point is that whatever it is (painting, playing the cello, riding a road bike), you simply have to do it to get better.
That first Novice ride that almost made me puke? I now co-lead that ride with Anne . And I can pull it at the front the whole way if I need to. For the experienced riders who might be reading this, that's no biggie, especially when you consider the length and pace of that ride. But just 3-4 months into cycling, that makes me pretty happy. Plus I can now enjoy the STCC D pace rides and am even now starting to tag along with some C pace rides.
When I first started, I struggled riding on consecutive days. My legs couldn't carry me the second day. Now it's a regular thing for me to ride both weekend days and when I'm in town, both Wednesday and Thursday nights. Throw in a holiday on Monday and I think "sweet, another day to ride".
I tell you all this so that as a novice you know you can likely get better in a relatively short time if you put the miles on your legs.
However, if you are just starting out, be careful about jumping into a faster and more challenging ride too soon. Me? I jumped up to a couple rides a little too soon and was the person that no one really wants to be - the one everyone else is waiting for. My first Sunday morning ride luckily Anne was also on the ride and was kind enough to ride me home a different route because there was no way my legs were going to do the Ridgeview hills that day. Since then I have seen other ride leaders do the same for folks who got in over their heads. (By the way, don't we have a great group culture and a great group of seasoned ride leaders?)
If I had it to do over again, I would probably sequence the rides this way. And I would do that ride until I could feel good almost the whole way through before going on to the next.
1. Saturday Novice - once you start to feel good most of the way through, volunteer to go up front with the ride leader - it's harder at the front, especially if there is a little wind - pay attention to group skills and ask for critique - when you start to step up, other riders will expect you to know (also read Mo's Quick TIps blog posts for group riding techniques and etiquette)
2. Thursday Night D - feels like a "grown up ride" after Novice because you pick up the pace and there are some decent inclines on the back half - you can start to use those group skills like riding closely and in a nice straight line (check back later for a blog post on that topic)
3. Saturday Bridge - East has more hills so I think it's harder than West - if hills are still a big problem for you, you might consider dropping back to Novice on east weeks (at least until you read my upcoming blog on conquering hills)
4. Wednesday Night - if you can "hang" with the pace on the way out there and back, this one is great for practice miles at your own pace around the loop and the inclines on are also great for building stamina in your legs
5. Sunday TRec - don't judge this book by its cover (well name anyway) - it's all relative and I aspire to be the cyclist for whom this is True Recovery - for a beginner this is likely a challenge, mostly because of the terrain, and you shouldn't try to tackle it until you feel pretty comfortable on Bridge East
We are always a "no drop" club. So if you happen to step up too soon or have a really bad day, don't beat yourself up. One of my favorite quotes from the author Victoria Holt is “Never regret. If it's good, it's wonderful. If it's bad, it's experience.” And another favorite quote is from Freddy Mercury who said "Get on your bikes and ride!"