|Law School Graduation five years ago|
I had an internship in Oshkosh Wisconsin during my second summer at law school. It was a pretty stressful time for me, because:
1. There were not that many good jobs for attorneys and;
2. I missed my family.
There was really good biking in Wisconsin, though. Huge groups of cyclists that rode really, really fast. The first ride I went on with them I managed to stay on for seven miles before I got dropped.
“Getting dropped” is what you call it when everybody rides away from you and you have to find your own way home. It helps when you have a smart phone so you can use google maps.
I only got dropped that once though. After that, I focused in on group riding survival techniques. Like never pulling, never bridging, and hiding from the wind.
“Pulling” is what you call it when you ride in front of the pack of cyclists. Think of the wind like a huge wall of ice, and the front rider as the icebreaker. All the rest of the riders have an easier time because the guy in front is smashing through the solid wall of wind. It is super noticeable.
For example: Last week I rode with a buddy of mine who pulled me along at 25 miles per hour. He was pedaling in front, and I was just sitting behind him, chatting about this movie I saw one time. And about the weather. He had a rear-view mirror on his bicycle, so I could see his face as he strained and sweat, smashing through the solid wall of wind at 25 miles per hour. Sometimes I had to stop pedaling so I didn’t run into the back of him. I kind of felt guilty.
“Bridging” is what you call it when the group of riders breaks into two groups. Then one poor soul has to pull the two groups together again, by riding the back group up to the front group. Bridging is especially hard if the front group wants to drop the back group.
You can tell when they want to drop you, because they start riding as a team, and because the last guy in line keeps looking back over his shoulder and yelling “We almost lost ’em boys!” How to avoid bridging? Always staying in the front group. As long as you are with the first five or so riders, you won’t have to pull everyone back together.
“Hiding from the wind” is self explanatory. If you feel like the wind is blowing on you, then you should move to where it doesn’t blow so hard. When the wind is blowing directly in your face, it is easy – you just ride directly behind someone else. But when the wind is blowing across the group, you have to get sneaky, and find the least windy spot behind the leader.
After a few weeks of riding with these Wisconsin speed demons, I got to be pretty fast too. By the end of the summer I was in wicked good riding shape and had started to shave my legs.
Last week I went out to Oshkosh again on a business trip. I brought my bike. After work I found the bike group again, and went out for a quick 40 mile ride. I felt great for the first bit. Strong. But about half way through my calves started cramping up, and I stopped trying to help pull. I just tucked in behind someone who looked strong and tried to hang on.
It felt great to be back.