I Got Yelled At.

Actually, I got talked to. In a reasoned and reserved way, explaining the unwritten rules of this particular group.

I appreciated it. This is how riders should communicate. I've been guilty more than once of yelling in the moment as someone sweeps across the front of the field in a sprint (diverging from their line). Adrenaline and rat-bastardness just kinda comes out in loud, profane bursts in moments like that. Afterwards, with the post-event endorphins coursing through my veins, I usually try to explain exactly why I turned the air blue in that moment. I usually apologize. I rarely mean it. However, when the threat of imminent danger is gone, I generally find talking is the most effective way to convey norms and other guidelines.

In my case, I sprinted.

It was my first go-round with the local group of triathletes that make up the "Pain Train". They make laps of the main road through a local park in a mostly non-rotating team time trial. The guy on the front drills it for one lap, and everyone else just tries to hang on. I latched on and was bleeding through my eyes just to hold the wheel in front of me. Pulling? Don't make me giggle. I don't have that sort of power. Richard Tilton has that sort of power, but I don't. Some laps I've averaged over 300W in the draft. It's good intensity training, but I'm not the guy laying down the hurt. Quite the opposite.

At the end of one of the laps, after being flogged mercilessly by the pack, I caught sight of a rider sprinting past the group towards the lap's finish. Instinctively, I jumped trains, came around him, and dusted the field. Once I stuffed my lungs back in, the rider who initiated the sprint rode up beside me and explained that because I hadn't pulled, I shouldn't be contesting the sprint. I realized my mistake (it's their sandbox and their rules), apologized, and haven't contested another. I'm just happy to tag along, building my diesel. I honestly appreciate them allowing me to join in the fun, as there are some extremely talented athletes among them. Instead of sprinting, I watch and evaluate, observing how the pack interacts. In the long run, that's more valuable to me than "winning" a lap.

I'd like to go to the front and give it a shot. Most of the people behind me would probably characterize it as a "recovery lap", but at least I would be contributing something instead of leaching off my betters. Not now, though. Maybe once this sinus infection that fills my head with phlegm every time I do an extended effort finally goes away. Maybe once it cools down enough that I don't lose five pounds of water weight every ride. Maybe once I get enough of these Gulf Coast miles in my legs that I can hold a respectable power for more than five minutes. Maybe then.

Until then, I'll try to respect the rules as laid out by those who were kind enough to explain them to me. 


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