Sunday, August 09, 2009

Saturday Palm Beach training ride

Every time we come to Palm Beach, we end up having breakfast at Benny's on the Beach or John G's at the beach in Lake Worth. And on weekends, I always see dozens of cyclists gathered in the park there, preparing to go on a ride, or just returning from one. So when I rented my bike for this week, I asked the proprietor of Top Cycle about organized rides. He told me that people meet for a fast ride around seven each Saturday.

The next day, I stopped into Fat Cat Bicycles in Lake Worth to have a look round and ask them about it too. They were more forthcoming, telling me that it's a very fast ride, averaging speeds up to 30mph. Hm. A bit quick for me, but okay. Later, I went to the Fat Cat website and found out more: It's an informal race, complete with intermediate sprints! Yikes.

What did I have to lose? I figured I'd check it out and see if I could keep up. I turned up at the start point and met a couple people who informed me good naturedly that I should expect some pain, and that speeds would top 36mph for the ride. One guy I spoke to as we spun a bit to warm up was expecting to do an Ironman later that week. So I was in good company.

Many of the riders gather a few miles south, and take it easy until Lake Worth. I saw the peloton of about 75 riders approaching at around 7:30 and merged into the middle. It seemed reasonably relaxed for a bit, and it was exciting to be pedaling along in the middle of a tight pack! I kept up just fine all the way to the public beach in Palm Beach - then it really started to hurt. At that point, I told myself I'd be satisfied if I could keep up with the group until the turn-around at the inlet, put my head down and kept on going.

The rest of the riders were a serious lot. Many rode tri bikes, most were quite new and probably cost in excess of $6k each. Nobody was particularly interested in chatting, which I guess is fair enough at 32mph. Lots of good communication among the riders anyway, warning about cars, road hazards, and that sort of thing. But no casual chatting, that's for sure.

After the burst of speed at the beach, the pace slowed a bit and I felt comfortable again. I felt just fine, in fact all the way to the inlet for the turnaround, and most of the way back again. Finally at the turning at Southern Bridge, I started to lag behind.... and then a gap opened up.... and then I tried to catch up and my legs just didn't have it in them. So I rolled in a couple minutes after the rest of the pack, but nevertheless felt quite pleased with myself.

I did a warmdown over the Lake Worth bridge, and had a look at Fat Cat to see if there was any activity, but it was quiet. All the riders seemed to have dispersed shortly after the ride, heading off with whoever they'd arrived with.

But I still had a stack of Ciclismo business cards with me and I was dying to talk up the company before heading home. So I went back to the park and sure enough, I found a dozen or so cyclists and ended up speaking with them for a while about cycling, travel, etc. Apart from the purely commercial aspect of my chats, it felt good to spend a while in animated conversation about fun stuff - something sorely lacking from the 30mph+ peloton!

No comments: