Today was the Adam and Lindsay Rodkey Annual Couple Ride. No, this is not an official thing that we do once a year, but it's annual because every time we try to ride together, it generally ends so badly that we don't try it again for another year. For example, the last time we rode together was October of last year at Brown County and it ended with the worst crash I've ever had, because I was pushing myself too hard on a descent so that I wouldn't slow him down.
This is the general outline for why things go badly. He's way faster than me; even with me going fast and him going easy there's still an ability gap. So I tend to ride harder than I want to ride, still get dropped, and then feel bad because I'm wasting his time. I like to think of cycling as a mutual interest and topic of conversation between us, but not necessarily something that should be done together.
However, yesterday he offered to show me a new cyclocross ride that I've never been on, and I decided to accept for a number of reasons: 1) I wanted to learn the route. 2) I knew I needed to ride hard today, but I didn't have a specific plan since I'm now coachless. 3) It's been nearly a year since the last time and I thought, "Why not?"
It actually went pretty well, because I decided not to worry too much if I was slowing him down too much. He had already done his real training ride earlier, so this was bonus for him anyway. The route went through some bike trails and neighborhoods and then dumped into a bit of singletrack and the end of a dead end street. Then it connected with some country roads east of town that are among my winter dirt road staples.
I was riding pretty decent until the final turn going into town, which was maybe a 5 mile stretch. There's a big hill at the beginning of the road that always kills me and today was no different. After reaching the top, I realized that I was pretty far into the red zone and that I wasn't going to get my HR back down below threshold unless I started going extra slow. This is the point where the couple ride actually went well for once. Had I been alone, I probably would have given up and soft-pedaled my butt home, but since Adam was with me, I put my head down and just rode back to town as fast I could stand. I figured if my HR wouldn't stay down, I should just go for it; I don't have anything to be fresh for in the next few days anyway. So he just tucked in behind me, and acted as a silent motivator on my wheel. It was kind of cool.
I will probably try that ride again by myself on Tuesday to make sure I can navigate it on my own. It should be a good addition to my winter training route catalogue. It still might be months before Adam and I try to ride together again, but this time went well enough, it might be a semi-annual thing. ;^)