I went out Sunday morning with a group I’d never ridden with before. We left from Mellow Johnny’s bike shop in downtown Austin and headed south. Four of us showed up for the so-called “Mid-Century Ride,” named because you had to be at least 50 years old to take part. We four were all men, all more than 60 years old.
The ride leader took us on a circuitous route to get out of downtown. We wound our way through tight turns, almost stopping, almost putting feet down. Finally, after taking some sidewalks through a city park, we reached a north-south residential street, and could ride freely.
Except that I noticed something. Our free riding was still pretty slow riding. I understood that we had to ride slow getting out of downtown — it was just too congested with the turns and the pedestrians. But now, we were past that — and we were still averaging only a tad over 10 mph.
Oh well, I figured. These guys looked strong enough. Maybe they just didn’t want to put the hammer down. (Putting the hammer down is a relative term, when I’m involved. I often feel like I’m hammering, only to watch the other bikers disappear off into the distance.)
We got into some residential areas on the south end of the city, and I watched our average speed creep higher — all the way to 11, almost 12 mph. We were about nine miles from downtown and into a semi-suburban area when we started to pedal at a comfortable cruising speed.
Now, I’ve been criticized a time or two in my past for leading a group ride out too fast. I think it might be because of my typical solo rides during the week. I most often do a one-hour ride in my neighborhood, so I tend to stand on the pedals sooner rather than later.
We had some nice fast runs on the rest of the ride. Our average speed after 41 miles was over 14 mph. When coupled with our slow speed on the way out, it showed we were really moving later on.
“I always consider it an accomplishment when we average over 14 for a ride,” the ride leader said, once we were back at the shop.
It was a good ride. And maybe I was able to go fast and stay with them because we had taken our time warming up. I’ll have to pay closer attention to that in the future.
How about you? What’s your warmup routine? Do you pedal easy for quite a while, or do you pick up the pace soon after the start? And what’s a good warmup pace?