Tuesdays are Contes Hill Rides, as I previously mentioned. Unfortunately, last week's ride got rained out (for the first time in 2 years!), due to thunderstorms that rolled in just at the time people were showing up. My weekday workouts revolve around this day, because it is by far my favorite workout of the week and gives me the most bang for the buck, so to speak, workout wise. It is more or less 1 hr straight of HR spiking intervals of climbing the steepest hills around and flying down the backside for recovery. Nothing I can think of builds more strength than these workouts. And, since it is a group environment, I always feel compelled to work a little bit harder. It is just a great time and I recommend everyone try it.
This week's ride was pretty well attended. I'd guess about 50 people showed up, so we rolled out in a large pack before splitting up into 2 groups - A group - really, really fast (mostly people on racing teams) and B group - typically moderately paced, but since there were only 2 groups, it included all ranges of speeds.
The first segment of the ride hit the crit loop, which is basically a .8 mile loop that consists of a long downhill to hit speeds around 30 mph if you push it hard and then you turn the corner into a super steep but short climb. In order to make it up the hill successfully, you have to 1) Make sure your gearing is tuned correctly to shift when you need it to so you don't get stuck in a tough gear and fall over; 2) Know the best time to shift so you don't get stuck in a tough gear and fall over; 3) Have a heart that won't break before you make it to the top, because by the time you get to the top, you'll find out your max HR. So we did that for about 20 minutes, or 4 loops.
The second segment was the Military Rd loop, which is out and back on Military Road, and includes 2 long climbs on each side - out and back for a total of 4 long hill climbs per loop. These are great for muscular endurance building, because they keep you climbing for longer at a steady effort. After regrouping at the end of the first side, we began the ride back to the start of the loop. While descending down the first hill, I started hearing some constant honking.
As a side note, for the most part Arlington (specifically north Arlington) is extremely bike friendly, with nice wide bike lanes specifically for cyclists. 99% of encounters I have with drivers includes either patient drivers waiting until there is an opening to pass, or just go into the lane over (if in a 2 lane road) to pass. No honking, kicking, or screaming.
I think you know where this is going.
So we hit the up hill and the honking became louder. I was in the 2nd pack of riders heading up the hill , with the first pack about 50 ft in front. The honking was soon right next to me as a giant Ford Excursion began slowing down to try and intimidate the large group of cyclists climbing the hill. I will note that we were all STILL IN THE BIKE LANE. He passed by my group and slowed to the same speed as the lead group. Words were being exchanged and then the SUV hit the gas to move ahead of the riders and then slammed on his brakes as he turned INTO the bike lane in an attempt to assault the group of cyclists! Fortunately, since we were riding up hill, their speed allowed them to move around the stopped SUV. With cyclists on all 4 sides, they surrounded him, in an effort to prevent him from leaving the scene. It was at this point that I climbed to the spot where this all went down. Many more pleasantries were being exchanged now between both sides and I got my first view of the driver: A very fat and very sad man, who clearly had no appreciation for life or anyone else that day. I don't know what set him off, but he had no reason to act the way he did. Perhaps jealous of people living a life he never could? We'll never know.
All I know is that I believe there was a cop or someone in the law enforcement industry as part of our ride, who began taking his information down. As I passed by, I overheard him explaining to the driver that what he just did is a felony and is considered assault with a deadly weapon. Not wanting to get involved, I continued on my way and the rest of us who continued on, all still puzzled at what had just happened, climbed the next hill. I hope they did in fact press charges against the guy, because people who act like that do not deserve to be on the same roads as everyone else.
By the end of the ride, I was spent. This was my first serious hill ride and though I consider my ride a success, I did fall back a bit further than I normally do within the same group of riders I usually hang with. It will come in time. I just have to remember that I haven't been riding much this year, so my cycling mojo will come back eventually.
Hopefully the next ride won't have as much drama!