June 6th is will be the first Hills of the West Coast ride of 2010 that I lead at our “summer” pace. Most of the regulars know the ride mantra, but I thought it would help keep things focused for me if I wrote the key points down:
1) Do my absolute best to make sure the ride is as safe as possible
2) Work with riders who have the fitness but possibly not all of the skills our ride requires
3) Make the ride as enjoyable as possible for as many people as possible
4) Keep track of everybody and not accidentally lose someone in the MON (middle of nowhere)
5) If I have to have “The talk” with a rider who is struggling and maybe in over their head, do it privately and as courteously as possible. Suggest other rides that might be a good fit
6) Keep things interesting via new routes, etc. Always try and mix things up for the regulars (and for me)
7) Did I forget anything?
Ok, now for some full disclosure. Here are my personal priorities:
1) Make new cycling friends
2) Never, ever crack/bonk/blow up while leading the ride
3) Try and consistently be one of the stronger riders
4) Match each ride up with my macro training schedule
5) Match each ride up with my micro whims and wishes
As far as macro timing, I simply tailor the type and length of the rides to what I want to be working on within my current four week cycling training plan. Is it time to climb or time to cruise? Most of the cycling season, the HOWC is my most important ride of the week, and I need to successfully integrate it in to my overall plan.
The whims and wishes parameters are a little more nebulous. For this I factor in how much riding I have done the week before, and how fresh I feel when I wake up on Sunday and ride to the start. How do the legs feel when I hit that first little hill? What kind of riding am I into mentally? How many people are at the start, who are they, and how difficult will it be to run the ride safely?
Yes, I am being selfish, but I really don’t make up my mind as to where we are going until the last minute. Sometimes I don’t come to a conclusion until after we are rolling and I see how things are going, not only for me, but also for the other riders in the group.
The HOWC is a hard ride, and things need to be kept fluid, especially in the summer. Leading the ride does let you indulge oneself a little selfishly, but I work hard to accommodate the group’s wishes.
Here’s to a safe and successful summer season.