Chaingang Noob

Last night I did my first chaingang. I nervously waited at the rendezvous point, and chatted to a handful of other first-timers... all looking very fast and lean! The ride leaders pulled up, atop a handful of fine and nippy looking carbon steeds. I gulped.... here we go! Through-and-off for laps of Regents Park.... very flat, so I expected quite a brutal pace checking the legs of these boys. And I was not disappointed! The principle was riding the circular formation in the bottom diagram. So off we set.... and before long I have moved my way up to the front of the right-hand line... only to make the cardinal n00b sin of surging forward and accelerating to get in front of the rider on the left. I didn't think he was slowing for me so I put down a little gas, opening up a gap behind me.... not cool Gem! I was told nicely by a couple of super helpful and friendly guys about waiting for the left to ease up slightly, and to keep things nice and tight when rolling off. 
artists impression
I managed the ridiculous pace they set for a few laps before unceremoniously announcing I had to fall off for a lap to catch my breath. I felt like my lungs would explode (due in no small part to the fact I was partial to an occasional social rolly up until November - a habit that's been firmly kicked into touch before the new year). So I watched as a sea of well dressed legs cruised to the horizon line..... "well Gem, you managed to hold for a few laps, but get back on or else you'll look a donkey!" I could hear my internal dialogue taunting me. So I sat up, cruising a circuit at about 6 mph and getting my lungs reacquainted with actually inhaling and exhaling air in a non-frantic manner, and then soon enough the sparkly looking train of blinking lights was fast approaching "Here we go!" I sped up, and then tagged right along the back of the line again.... feeling a little recovered and ready to hit it once more!
I took another turn on the front "Smoothly Gem" I scalded myself, fearful of looking a melon for making the same error again... but I managed just fine! Floating down the back of the group of riders I felt like this was such a new exciting riding experience.... it was exhilarating, scary, and chuffing hard work. After much huffing and puffing I sat on Conrad's wheel and received a very welcome half lap tow to the finish point. It was without a doubt the most intense cycling id done in a long time, differing so much from the many hours spent languishing in the hills of Surrey around heart rate 2/3. I rode home like a giddy schoolgirl, excitedly thinking about deep aero wheelsets, getting my aerobic system up to scratch and fuelling for next week. That's right.... "next week"...... I'm a glutton for punishment.

Find more information on riding pacelines using the links below... believe me, il be swatting up!


Unknown said...

Good on ya, Gem. I learned how to ride in a paceline / peloton this past summer and found it quite intimidating at first. OUr group does the circular but clock-wise, which threw me for a loop :)

Angelo Giangregorio said...

Say it in Italian:
'Doppia fila' :)

Wade Wallace said...

Great job Gem! I remember my first bunch ride. It was exhilarating! Glad you thought so too.

Jason and Sarah said...

I work near Regents Park and would love to join in a chain gang in the evening as I often cannot get back down to south London for the club ride, what time do they meet?

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