Ugh is right.
I rode yesterday with some people who are MUCH stronger than me. It was a bike riding bridal party for Kimberly. A bunch of women got together to do an "easy" ride and then have brunch. I had to work later in the morning so I planned to skip the brunch part but did want to join in on the ride.
It makes a big difference to me to ride with others. The entire experience is different. And the first time out on a new route is tricky too. I like knowing where the hills are going to be, what the route is, where the easy parts are, where the going is going to get tough. Yesterday, riding with new people and riding on a new route was a double whammy of sorts. A test. I felt like I failed, but it was also one of those instances where I had to keep reminding myself that I was doing something that many people I know could not have done.
There were about 14 of us. Two, however, planned to start with the rest of us and then go off on an easier route. I planned to stick with the big girls. Turns out that 4 of them are on a racing team and are very strong, very good, very fast. And all of the women had ridden this ride before and that really makes it easier. They know when to gear down, slow up, get ready for a big hill, take a breath knowing that the hard part is done. Not me. I dragged, trailed, lost everyone once or twice, felt stupid. At one point everyone came to a stop because one rider's little under the seat bag had come open and all its contents were strewn all over the road. The rest of us came to a halt to wait. I pulled up nearly last and, while just standing still with one foot still clipped into my pedal, fell over on my leg, butt, and shoulder. SO embarrassing.
After that stop the plan was to start a pace line, basically a single file line with one rider taking the lead for 1/2 mile or so. After being in front, each in turn falls back to the end of the line and then rides in formation until she is at the front again. It is much easier to trail behind someone, to ride in the draft of them with a wind break. But it is also a pressured situation to be the one in the front. When it was my turn I realized that my bike computer had gotten dislodged when I fell and was not working. I had no idea how fast I was going nor how long. Ugh. Stupid!
And then one woman pulled alongside me and commiserated, riding with me, soothing me, telling me I was doing fine. The was nice, but I felt so slow and so much like I was out of my league. We got to a big hill and I managed that okay though I was dead last in line. And then another woman rode with me, being kind but also making me feel like I was a total beginner as she kept turning around to see if I was okay and I could tell that she was really slowing down to make sure I could hold onto the pace. Sheesh! No Tour de France for me.
Then I went and worked a huge party which was a rush of guests devouring our food faster than I'd ever experienced before. It was a real scramble and was actually scary for me, a terrifying feeling that we were going to run out of food. We did run out of a few things (I don't quite know what happened to the portioning this time). I made shrimp tempura while standing on a stone floor for an entire hour and my legs were really sore by the end.
Right now I'm awake though it is not even light out. I'm sore from my little fall, from being on my feet for that big party, from a popped little blood vessel behind my knee. I look and feel pretty bad, bruised and sore.
Can I really do a ride across the entire country?
On the positive side, someone wrote to me and said she wants to donate to the ride. And she is not even someone I know. This week is the week to write my letters.
It all feels daunting.