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Social chain gang - A positive story.
08-15-2012, 08:43 PM (This post was last modified: 08-25-2012 09:05 PM by Lewis.)
Post: #1
Social chain gang - A positive story.
Hello forum dwellers, my names Lewis as the user name indicates and this is my experience as a first time rider as part of the Tuesday Chain Gang. I bought my bike 3 weeks ago, and was the guy on the grey cyclocross bike. It was the bike with a flat bar, no cleats or shoes and I was not wearing lycra. I certainly stood out from the rest of the riders, or maybe I was just to self aware, anyway moving on.

I cycled from livingston and arrived early, around 5.50. Thought it would be good as part of a warm up since I didn't know what I was getting myself in for. I sat on the bench opposite the shop not really knowing where the meeting point was if so many cyclists turned up and it was a cracking night after all. Seeing the odd cyclist turn up and sit outside the shop I thought I would mingle so jumped over the road and chatted to some folks (forgot there names, sorry). Nice to get some info regarding the set off procedure, times etc etc. Probably got too caught up in talking to some people that I noticed the social group starting to set off so I quickly had to jump over the road and catch up.

The start of the ride through West Calder was smooth, steady 15mph, once outside the the village it picked up a bit before the Forth turn going to 17-18. I felt fine I guess, just wishing i had ate something prior to starting. On the climb itself I struggled BADLY. I was second last in the line, some lady started asking about starting a chain but I would never have the pace to be on the front. I gradually felt like my wheels were becoming square and that gravity was effecting me more than the other cyclists. Not sure what my average mph was on the ascent but it was something pitiful. This is where my ride picked up though in its darkest hour. 3 HERO cyclists by the names of Alex, Denise and Mark (hope I have this right),waited on me, they urged me on with some great encouragement. It was easier to keep going knowing you had a wheel to follow just a meter or so in front and I managed to keep my pace.

The summit was a great feeling after 4-5 miles of climbing I was exhausted. They suggested i ride on with them for another 15-20 minutes then turn back and that would be a good ride for my first time out in the group. I was not in the mood for listening though and really wanted to complete it. They were fine with that and didn't once try and shot off and leave me to fend for myself. Denise or Alex kept in front or cycled beside telling me the hand signals and shouts they would use for traffic or obstructions in the road. Mark was the lead out man cutting a nice hole in the wind for us and greatly appreciated it was. We ended up being passed just before Carnwath and then several times shortly after it. Mark tagged onto one of those groups to stretch his legs a little. The 3 remaining riders just went at as steady a pace as I could manage. We made it back down to the dog kennels with an average speed of 15.8mph. Not sure on the time though.

I cycled 38 miles last night to and from livingston and around the route, I was a beaten man after it but happy and satisfied with a feeling that I had accomplished something that day.

I popped into the shop today and bought cleats and shoes, I will try and put some miles in between now and next tuesday and see how I get on. Weather dependant of course. I know the route now so being dropped is not as big of an issue, I will just try and not be dropped so fast next time. Progress is done in small steps and eventually I will get to where I want to be on a bike.

Great night out on the bike with friendly approachable riders, good advert for the shop and the local cycling community.
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08-15-2012, 09:44 PM
Post: #2
RE: Social chain gang - A positive story.
That's great to hear Lewis. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Your time for the loop was 1hr 39 mins and 34 seconds from the 30 sign at West Calder to the finish line. That's at least 6 minutes quicker than I managed on my first ride. You'll be hacking chunks off that time before long.

The fact that the social group aren't chaining is a little bit of a failure of the format that we can hopefully resolve next year.
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08-16-2012, 09:33 AM
Post: #3
RE: Social chain gang - A positive story.
Cool, nice wee write up there Lewis. I think that'll be helpful for other folks potentially thinking about taking the plunge and coming along to the Chain Gang. And you'll be working you way up through the groups before you know it.
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08-16-2012, 09:45 AM
Post: #4
RE: Social chain gang - A positive story.
Good effort Lewis. Id also not be afraid to shout "ease up" if the pace is too much for you. No one will moan or groan as you found out when denise, mark and alex eased up once they knew you were struggling.

In response to your comment dave about chaining. The group would make a massive difference chaining but some guys dont have the energy to be able to do it/unsure of what they are doing and if there are fast guys in the chain gang who dont feel like letting newcomers "chain" your stuffed as the faster guys in the social group dont want to wait around. Not saying this happens all the time but am sure it happens now and again.
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08-16-2012, 05:30 PM
Post: #5
RE: Social chain gang - A positive story.
Hey Lewis, you also fared better than me my first time as Jonny from the shop had to push me up the hill out of West Calder and I mean physically with his hand on my back. You wont be long in getting the ride time down and escalating up through the groups as you gain experience and fitness. All the best and hope to meet up with you some time on a Tuesday.
Rgds, Bill
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08-16-2012, 09:58 PM
Post: #6
RE: Social chain gang - A positive story.
Hi lewis, I just wanted to say well done for coming along to the chaingang and.making it through. I was the lady trying to start the chain. I have only been coming to the chain gang for a about 2 months and it was my first time sort of being in charge, with the help of Nathalie. It hard to keep the social group together sometimes as there can be a diverse range of riders there and this week there were quite a few riders there who had never ridden in sequence. Hopefully next week there will be a few more folk there to share the wind resistance and you will come back to ride again. Don't be afraid to shout ease up or sit at the back for a while till you have caught your breath. I only went to my first chain gang because some of my friends made me and now I'm addicted and hoping to push my fitness to group One so hopefully you will keep coming along and start to really yourself.
Fiona
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08-16-2012, 10:21 PM (This post was last modified: 08-16-2012 10:42 PM by Lewis.)
Post: #7
RE: Social chain gang - A positive story.
Hey one and all, thanks for taking time out to respond. Went out on my first ride tonight with new cleats and shoes, only 2 mishaps with them. Did 22 miles at an average of 15.7mph but my major issue while cycling is on climbs, any climb. I just cannot seem to maintain any sort of pace/speed I drop from a 20-22mph on flats to 10 on climbs and the thighs feel like they could explode. Going to take a trip to South Queensferry on sunday morning and try Kingscavil on the return. I just want to get in as many rides as I can when the weather is pleasant and I have spare time. I have considered writing on the top bar of my frame ''SHUT UP LEGS'' ala Jens Voigt.

Gingerfio (Fiona I assume?), I don't know too much about cycling but I do not want to hold others back yet. My fitness is not at the level of the better social group riders, and I wouldn't wish to say ease up and slow others going at their comfortable pace. I look at it as a motivational mind set, if I am dropped half way up the climb to Forth then the next week I wish to make it 3/4 of the way etc etc. I am stubborn I guess, possibly making it harder on myself with my style of bike also but it may help me get fitter quicker due to the increased weight?. What would be ideal of next time is people being more vocal as to when groups set off as I almost missed the start of the social group.

I have a friend who just bought a bike yesterday so he may come a long to the gang when he feels comfortable enough and I could chain with him, being on similar fitness levels I think.

Last but not least, anyone got tips on the best way to clean my chain / cassette, products to use or not to use I would be much obliged.
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