…and intended for the enjoyment of all participants.” That description of Stockton Bicycle Club rides is in the informational paragraph that precedes our monthly ride schedule. It has been there for years, certainly for the 15 years I’ve been an SBC rider. In other words, a Stockton Bicycle Club ride is not a race. Until it is.
No question, some parts of nearly every SBC ride are ridden at a pretty furious pace. And we try to drop each other or out-sprint each other or get to the top of a climb ahead of somebody. When I went to see Doctor Testa (Max the Magician, who my readers have already met) he asked what kind of riding I did. I said I didn’t race, I did solo spins and club rides. “But that is a competition” he said, and he is 100% right.
Strava has taken this ‘not a race until it is’ aspect of our club rides to a new level. For non-cyclists, Strava is an ‘app’ that takes data from a GPS device like a Garmin or a smart phone and records the rider’s times on designated segments. Each segment has a leaderboard of the fastest times, and uphill segments reward the fastest with the title King (or Queen) of the Mountain (KoM). When you achieve a new personal best time on any segment, you are rewarded with a personal record (PR).
My friends think I’m a gadget and cycling data guy, and they are right. Power numbers, training zones, gradient of climbs, miles, calories, whatever, I’ve got numbers for them. For some reason I haven’t yet joined the Strava bandwagon. But several of our club regulars have, and the quest for new PR’s or KoM’s or simply to move up the leaderboard on some segment provides new motivation to ride hard.
Yesterday’s club ride featured two Strava segments on the Paloma Road climb up to the water tank. This is a wonderful quiet road that is uphill for almost 5 miles. The gradient is not severe, and Stoker and I can do it on our CoMotion tandem without any problem. It is possible to go slow and savor a road like this, but not if one is chasing Strava PR’s. So yesterday a few of us rode this road as a ‘race’.
Eric (Red Shoes) was out for Strava blood, and the Chief was very motivated since he had both the club president C2K and vice president (yours truly) in his sights for pacing purposes. Both Eric and the Chief set new PR’s. I didn’t have a PR to motivate me but I didn’t want to get too far behind Red Shoes, and I did stay ahead of the Chief and C2K .
Red Shoes Eric is another of those stories about a rider who lost weight (20 lbs.) and got strong. I used to be able to drop him on any climb, but last week climbing up Stoney Creek Road I simply could not match his pace. And yesterday it was the same. Don’t you just hate it when someone goes from trailing you to dropping you?
Actually I don’t. I think the friendly competition that occurs on our rides is a good thing as long as none of us takes it, or ourselves, too seriously. That is mostly the case. So ride on Red Shoes, I salute your achievement as I watch you disappear up the road!