Off the back, a first experience group ride

After a few years procrastinating I finally made it out for my first organized group ride and, as I was hoping, it was the motivation I needed to get my ass in gear for this year’s 2019 Tour de Victoria.

Actually, it was a kick in the teeth.

I love the Tour de Victoria. It has become a highlight of my year. But I can’t be truthful and say that weekly long rides fit into the schedule of a full time (attendant) dad, reporter, and master’s student.

Luckily, the Tripleshot Friday morning ride was the kick in the face I needed.

Also, the TS riders were so nice to me.

And, double-also, I said in my last year’s TdV blog intentions that I would do a group ride and write about it. Well, I finally did!

And triple-also (since I just Googled and can confirm I’ve now invented the double-also, why stop there) before I explain how amazing the people in the Tripleshot B group ride are, and they were so so so amazingly nice to me, I need to re-introduce myself. This is my second year blogging for TdV about my supposed development in road cycling.

(Visit the bottom of the blog for my bio.)

My name is Travis Paterson and I’m doing the Factor 160km ride of Tour de Victoria on Aug. 17.

It’s my first time doing a 160km ride. Each year I try to up my TdV game. Last year the 140km was 40km longer than any ride I’d done and was twice as long as my biggest ride previous in 2018. Before that I did the 90km in 2016 and 2017.

So, with my ego checked at the door for 2019 I headed out to the Tripleshot 6am Friday morning ride in late May. As a first timer, a gracious C group ride took me in and taught me the ways of group riding. It was way more complicated than I thought.

As I also learned, the TS Friday morning ride runs all year. You start from Oak Bay High and do a 38-42km ride up Shelbourne, over to Blenkinsop, up and around Mount Douglas, through Gordon Head out to Ten Mile Point and then back through Caddy Bay and into Uplands on Beach Drive all the way as it turns into Dallas Road into Beacon Hill, where the ride ends with a few sprint laps through the park (except it’s all messed up due to construction right now).

At this time of year there is usually an A1 and A2, which are no drop, and also, so fast, they are something I will never do. There is also usually a B1 and a B2 ride, and these days a B3 because numbers grow, and I’m told B3 is a no-drop ride, and C is a no-drop.

But seriously. C is only for people who ride, and B group is no joke. A is for, well, who cares, but they are fast.

To be fair, there are lots of clubs offering group rides around town. Check your local cycling shops, they know them all. For me, the Friday TS is the closest and most convenient entry in terms of scheduling.

Back to my first TS Friday morning group ride in May… I joined the C ride and it was a fantastic, positive group who all took turns on the hour long ride explaining to me how the dynamic of two-up riding works, or a pace line (single up with an ongoing hard rotation), and I stuck right with them and even pulled the gang along a few times. They made me feel like an all-star.

I have to point out that the C group did do some solid sprint laps of Beacon Hill but I didn’t really understand what we were doing so I dropped off, I was all worried about getting home for work. I didn’t realize you burn the rest of your tank then go for coffee. Makes so much sense.

Anyways, one person said, ‘Trav, next ride, go with the B group.’ Well, I really should have reconsidered that. Turns out the B Group is hella fast.

I clearly wasn’t ready for the B Group, but, they were super nice, and, I am now highly aware of what I need to do, which is get back out there and get a few hundred KMs in my legs soon before re-attempting to join a B Group.
Because, deciding who is in the B Group is just as much about speed as it is about who goes through the green light first.   

The group I was in was the “B3” only because the front half of the B2-3 group went through a green light and became B2, while the second half waited and became B3. From what I can tell, B3 woulda been the same speed as B2, except, they had this guy in a Tour de Victoria jersey …

A foursome of about 75 of the Friday morning TS riders who show up at 6am and leave at 6:05am from Oak Bay High. Left is Eric, who this rider is indebted to forever for his kindness.

Anyways, it was going fine until, well, we hit Blenkinsop. Then I started the humiliating yo-yo off the back every time we hit an incline. Eventually the back rider looked back. Think his name is Eric. I waved him off. My wave said don’t worry about me just go. But he called to the group to wait. It was a no-drop.

I didn’t even know there is a term called “off the back.”

I can confidently report, there is a term called “off the back.”

I did it a lot. And it is a lot of work.

Everyone made B Group look easy. One guy, Kevin, he just had his knee replaced. It was his first group ride since surgery. Another guy, Brian, he hasn’t been riding much at all but he used to be A group. The list goes on. They all said the same thing. Especially Eric. And Rolf, and Penny, and, well, I met all 10 riders. Pretty cool.

“Hey, stick to my wheel. You’ll save 30-35 per cent of your energy.”

I think 7 of the 10 riders told me the same thing.

I was so grateful. Problem was. I couldn’t do the 60-65 per cent to begin with.

But I’ll be back.

I am so grateful. The Friday morning Tripleshot riders are too cool.

Corrections Corner: In my last blog I made some errors. I wrote about two rides in Hawaii. Firstly, I suggested I wore my TdV jersey on both rides, but it was only on the Sandy Beach ride which I didn’t share pictures about. The other error is that I said I rented a 60 inch Bianchi, when I meant to say 62cm.

Travis Paterson is a cycling advocate, fan of pro cycling and reporter for Oak Bay News. This year he will be riding the 160km for the first time!

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