Should I still go on the ‘A’ ride?

I’ve been riding with Garstang Cycling Club for a few years now, with a couple of years off for good behaviour. They’re a great club, very friendly and have always made me feel very welcome. They also like to organise slightly different rides. One of my favourites was the epic Scorton – Scotland – Scorton 200 mile ride, in one looooong day. (strava route can be found here).

Earlier this year I returned for my first ride with the club for over a year, with the ‘A’ group, and it was a pleasant jaunt out to Tosside, cafe stop, and gently over Bowland Knotts.

Three weeks ago I was back for my first 100 miler of the year, which was a particularly tough ride over Newby Head in the rain. I struggled to keep up from the start, and as soon as the road went up I was left behind. I then had a go at the ride leader because I couldn’t keep up (sorry about that Paul), blaming everyone else for my tired legs. I eventually rolled into Sedbergh for the cafe stop over five minutes behind everyone else after having bonked big time. I put it down to not eating enough before and during the ride.

Today I was on the cobbles in Garstang ready for another ‘A’ ride. I has also eaten more before setting off and my back pockets were bulging with gels and cereal bars. I would be fine, or so I thought. The route was a gentle 80 miler, without too many hills. Four of us set off, and I stayed at the back although the pace wasn’t too quick. 40 miles later, after over 1,000m of climbing, and I really wanted to be at the cafe as I was only just holding on, and still hadn’t taken a turn at the front. The cafe was somewhere I’d never been before and was great (can’t remember the name of it, but it was in Ribchester).

As we set off again there was a couple of nasty little climbs where I just about held on, but as we reached the flat part of the ride the pace was upped. Almost 30 miles of chaingang followed, where I took one turn at the front lasting less than a minute. I managed to stay with everyone else until a mile before Garstang and the end of the ride. As I rolled to a stop I mentioned to Rick, the ride leader, that I had found the last 25 miles deeply unpleasant.

That’s two ‘A’ rides this month where I’ve returned home a broken man. I had a chat with Mick as we headed to Scorton, where I said that maybe it was time for me to join the ‘B’ ride. Mick very kindly added that I had nothing to prove. I’ve completed the Bowland Badass (here), Everested (here and here), completed a double ironman (here) and a triple ironman, but I’m not getting any younger.

The problem is that the ‘A’ ride is the ‘A’ ride for a reason, and most of my riding this year has definitely not been ‘A’ ride quality. I’ve enjoyed riding with Helen (my beautiful wife), stopping at cafes, and going touring at a very sedate pace. Maybe I’m not fit enough for the ‘A’ ride. I could train a bit harder or sign up to Zwift and power my way through the tough times and persevere with the ‘A’ rides. I’m enjoying cycling as much now as I ever have, and am really looking forward to a weeks touring in Scotland later this year, so that’s not an issue.

So, should I admit that I’m not the rider I used to be and head out with the ‘B’ ride, that’s if they would have me, and enjoy cycling with friends at a less frenetic pace.

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5 thoughts on “Should I still go on the ‘A’ ride?

  1. Matthew, I am on and off the pace most weeks and come back thinking some times wondering if I should trouble the A riders with dragging them back or delaying them, but like you (but not to anything like your achievements) I have done some big rides or epiccdays out. I think I belong in the A group, you should too, respect sometimes means not worrying if people are not on the game that day, they will there another day, on the front or jousting on hills. I too have taken time to ride with my partner when perhaps I should be resting or recovering but it’s important to ride how you want when you want. You are an amazing cyclist and are worthy of riding with the A group anytime. See you out soon I hope. Ian

  2. You have achieved a lot to be proud of Matt. More than most. So don’t worry about being at the back of the A group. As long as your enjoying it what does it matter. I also have started taking it slightly easier as age is against me now. As you said GCC are a great bunch and they do some great rides.

    Boz

  3. Pingback: On Finding My Mojo | Beards and Triathlons

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