Today I took my first step in finding a cycling club, by joining one of the two that exist in Nîmes for a training ride this afternoon.
I knew it would be tough because they put up their Garmin stats on their website – always over 100 km and always over 30 km/h average.
And it was hard. After getting out of town, the coach, Yan, starting ramping up the speed and we all took turns on the front. For what seemed like an eternity we were riding 45 km/h or so and I really thought that I was going to be dropped before the training even began. Mercifully, he slowed it down and we cruised for a long enough time to recover.
And the 3+ hours kept up like that. We’d take a rest then Yan would see a hill and hammer up it, taking the youngsters with him (this is a serious club that seems mainly to groom young riders for amateur races, with a couple of older guys added in to keep them in check) and leaving me to struggle behind, wondering when that next respite would come! However, I’m happy to report, I was rarely the last guy on the road, and on the flats I generally stayed with the pack.
This club even has a car that follows behind with water, spare wheels…and the best of all, wind-free riding if you need it. If someone falls too far behind (you know how I know this…), you jump behind the car and get a free ride back up to the group. I had never ridden behind a car like that before and it’s really fun to roll along at 50, pretty much effortlessly.
We rode the whole 3 hours non stop except for a traffic hazard relatively common in these parts.
I’m not sure I’ll join the club, but it certainly couldn’t hurt my training. It’s very hard to replicate that kind of intensity when you’re by yourself – at least for me. Now if they had a soigneur who made house calls, that might tip the balance…