I had my second ride out with the Dulwich Paragon cycle club this weekend, which involved a 35 mile ride around a standard route the members do every Saturday morning at 9am on the dot.
I joined the quickest of the three groups, as I thought it would be a great indication of where I currently am, in terms of my own ability. Luckily, I managed to keep up with the group, even though the quicker members of the group did have to wait occasionally for a handful of us mere mortals. I had a moment on this ride where I actually considered dropping off and waiting for the intermediate group to sweep me up, but I managed to overcome my own mind and kept on pedaling.
The members of this group were potentially much, much quicker than I was, which shouldn't be much of a surprise considering a lot of them are active racers. But like in the Tour De Nock a few weeks back, I was amazed at how they seemed to be able to crank up the cadence and pull away when climbing and when on flats.
Once again, I tried to learn as much as possible from the two hours I was out on the road with these guys, watching out for things like the respective gear selection at certain points of the route to see if there was anything I was getting significantly wrong. I also got chatting on to a number of riders again (which I swear must annoy some of them) to work out what they did as part of their training regimes, in an effort to pick up tips. Since the ride itself, I have also taken to reading other cycling blogs, such as http://bicyclelab.com/ and http://www.cycle-faster.com/ on the importance of factors like rest days, diet and technique. All of which has led me to the following thoughts:
1. I need to build interval training into my weekly routines
2. My current plan of having a rest day after each training ride is fine
3. I shouldn't worry about building in another rest day should my quads be sore from previous rides
4. I am starting to think there is no need for my middle chain ring, and I should perhaps look to use just two
5. I need to start looking at my diet, which has improved but is still not to the level I need it to be at
6. Despite the cost, some decent deep rimmed wheels would be a really positive addition to my bike
But in each of the articles I have read, the constant no.1 point seems to be - 'What is your ultimate goal?' This is something I am yet to set in concrete, which is likely to hinder any long term progress I make on the bike. I mentioned this to Rob (my housemate) on Sunday morning. I can't seem to work out how serious I want to get with cycling. I seem to live and breathe cycling at the moment, I am in love with my bike and I live for getting out into the countryside and cycling for miles. But what I plan to work out in the next couple of weeks is whether I see cycling as a casual/social event or if I intend to attempt to try and race for a team one day.