I thought I would change it up a bit and not write just after my races. After all, there are many other things that I could be blogging about! So today, I've decided to share with you what was an integral part of my training schedule this past week...the Donut Ride!
Before this week, I've only ever done the Donut once, and that was back in April when I just started riding outdoors. Last week because of the holiday, I was able to do the Donut on Monday as well as on Saturday. When I first did the Donut in April, I was petrified to even attempt it. I was not super confident with my bike handling skills, and I had never rode with a pack that big. When we started, I remember feeling like I was in the Tour de France, and I was not comfortable with the throngs of riders on my right, left, in front, and behind. Because I was so timid, I was leaving way too much space between my front wheel and the wheel in front of me, so when the first attack happened somewhere around Highway 7, I got dropped! I had to work so hard time trialing it back to the pack. I honestly though that was it, and that I would never catch back up again. Lucky for me, the lead peloton got stuck at some lights so I was able to rejoin the pack. Lesson learned-I had to stop being a chicken and put myself right in the middle of the pack! I still got dropped a little later in the ride when we hit some hills, but had some people to ride with at that point. Although I finished the ride relatively strong, I knew that I had a lot to improve on in terms of pack riding.
Fast forward to this week, and I can honestly say that I believe that I have become a much better rider over the last 4-5 months. I attended a draft legal certification clinic in late-April, have practiced drafting off of my boyfriend's back wheel at least once a week, in addition to doing several time trials where I get a 3 minute advantage and he chases me down, as well as taken part in a couple of draft legal triathlon races. I was definitely a more confident rider going into the Donut on Monday, but I still dragged my friend Angus out for company! I wasn't afraid to stick myself in the middle of the peloton, and I was ready for all of the attacks that the leaders were throwing at me. It was going so well until I flatted about 15-20km away from the bakery that we stop at about half way (Gramma's Bakery in King City). Normally nobody stops if you get a flat, and I saw Angus pass me, but he didn't stop because he didn't know that I flatted. Lucky for me, I think because I was one of a handful of women who were doing the ride, two gentlemen-like riders stopped with me and actually changed my flat for me! Thank you Rico and Dave-I owe you one! The three of us rode together to regroup with the rest of the riders at the Bakery, so I got to ride with the peloton again on the way home.
On Saturday's Donut Ride-I think I had a major break through! I didn't get any flats this time, so I actually stayed with the lead group and didn't turn off on King Road. Instead I went straight and did a longer route that had a series of hills that I had only heard about from others. People usually go bananas on these hills and sprint to get to that "corner" first. I had no idea what sprinting up the hills meant, but it definitely meant that nobody except myself, was seated and trying to spin up the hills:) Everyone passed me in a jiff on the first hill, so I got down in my shorties and time-trialed to catch up before the next hill. Basically, I kept getting dropped on the hill, and then had to time trial in between hills to catch up again. Finally, I learned that the only way for me to stay with them on the hills was if I put it in a bigger gear, got out of the saddle and just hammered away. I was successful on the last big hill! I was definitely at the very back of the pack, but at least I didn't get dropped and I wasn't riding alone. I rode in to Gramma's Bakery at 10:56, which meant that I had about 4 minutes before the train left again for the ride home. The ride home was that much more painful with the added mileage and hills, but I was able to keep up with the group, even though I was secretly praying that they would stop attacking so much. I was still slightly uncomfortable on some of those narrow back roads with so many riders traveling at 50km/hr, but I survived it. From door to door, I rode 111km on Saturday, and I'm still feeling the hurt today!
One more week of heavy training before tapering, which I am very much looking forward too!