On the group ride Wednesday night, there were a few times when the group was riding fast (~27mph) in a double line, with a rotating paceline. In two of the instances, I was doing everything I could to pull to the front and move over to keep the paceline going…such that I burned out basically as soon as I got over to the side. This resulted in my being unable to maintain the pace and hang on the wheel of the rider who was just passing me, so I blew up the peloton and created a gap in front of myself as the rest of the riders in the front group went around me.
After the ride, Lenny told me that this phenomenon is called “whiplash.”
I get to certain points in the ride, and I have to decide if I’m going to stay with the lead group by sucking wheel, or if I’m going to pull my weight and risk blowing up. To date, I choose to pull my weight, and this does result in me blowing up (at least once per ride). When I say “blowing up”, I don’t mean pulling over and puking, or stopping…I just mean losing the wheel in front of me. I don’t know which is a better approach…but I feel like sucking wheel is not an honest approach to the ride. When I’m blowing up, I feel like I’m running out of legs. I’ll be breathing hard, certainly, but I don’t feel like I’m running out of cardio. I just feel like I’m running out of leg strength.
When I blow up, I feel like I’m running at some level well in excess of what I can sustain (say 12 on a scale of 1-10). It’s not than I have to drop down to a 5 thereafter…I can drop down to a 9-10 and keep going. In some ways, that’s more frustrating than completely blowing up, because I lose the wheel, but then watch the group just slooooowwwwwwly pull away.
I don’t think there’s a different tactical approach to take, so I’ll keep plugging away at this issue and keep working on building up the ability to hang. Until then, I’m wearing a neck brace on the rides.