Sunday, February 22, 2009

Training Session #2 -- Our first outdoor ride of the season

Saturday, February 21, 2009: Wow! We are already getting to go outside to train, and this time we didn't even have icy weather to do it in. It was a balmy day in Boxborough for our training, by comparison to some February rides I've done in the past. I sure hope no one on our team is discouraged by what we're doing today. There is bright sunshine, mostly dry conditions, and the streets are clear of water and snow. There is some serious amount of loose sand out there, so we won't be breaking any speed records.

The plan is for 14.8 miles today, and Anna is going to be our coach. We'll forgo any SAG vehicle duties on this ride, lucky for me. The New Hampshire team is joining us, and they are almost as numerous as we are, five of them and seven of us, for a 12-person team. Coach Don Lamothe of NH is here giving lots of good new-bike advice and fitting suggestions to the newbies to road-biking. I've loaned Lindsey, one of my mentees, a Bianchi hybrid bike while she searches responsibly for a good road bike. Won't be a problem for this short ride!

We have Anna, Don, Rich, Brittany, Lindsey, Mike M, Ann, Jill, Jack, Marla, Sue, and me participating today.

As the ride started out at about 10:30, we are already noticing quite a bit of road traffic, which is a pain on a day like this with lots of sand and road damage near the road edges. But, we've dealt with this before, so we'll just persevere, carefully.

We meet seven miles along the usual Boxborough course, at the local baseball field. The usual kidding around evolves, as Sue complains laughingly that her favorite port-a-potty is not yet available on the field. Sue starts out in the lead on this ride, and I've been asked to keep up with the lead group so no one gets lost. Funny, I'm traditionally the one with the most trouble keeping up with the queue-sheet.

We all drink some water and cram down some snacks at the ball yard, and then proceed toward the Rt. 111 junction at West Acton, which we'll pass at about 8.5 miles in. We are well on our way to finishing this already, but there is some serious work ahead (as we haven't had any real hills yet!)

Turning left at Littlefield Rd, we are now about to head into the hilly country of Boxborough. Our newbies are pushing us today, so we'll have to keep up. More trouble with turns and straigh-aheads for them than anything we're asking them to ride or climb, so it is a healthy squad. Don, Anna, Ann, and I share duties of waiting and watching for riders at turns and straights, to make sure everyone stays on the planned trail. When we turn left after the railroad tracks off Littlefield, we are on our way up the highest hill in Boxborough.

I think by the time we got to the top of the hill on Middle Rd, we had actually climbed a total of 400 feet. Not bad for a first ride at near-freezing temperatures. I doubt anyone noticed the cold going uphill. The glide down the other side on ???? Rd requires particular attention to sand and cynders. But before I realized it, I was already back on Rt 111, and headed back to the Holiday Inn. So was everyone else, and we finish in about an hour and 15 minutes or so.

Time to introduce all the newbies to pizza at DiCapri's Pizzeria and Restaurant back in West Acton. A good time was had by all! TNT-MA Walking Coach Ben Lavine, a frequent Tahoe team member and coach, met us there for some good eats, and told us he might join us for next week's ride.

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