My first Donut Ride – Rookie Mistake No.1 (keep reading)
The (In)Famous Donut Ride! Most of my adult life I’ve heard about it and honestly the name is kind of misleading. Not knowing a thing, I remember being invited to it years ago. My mind pictured a bunch of “mature” gentlemen riding a few km’s and then stopping at a donut shop then riding a bit more. In all honesty my mind wasn’t that far off, but the “mature” men are kind of fast and the ride starts at what used to be a donut shop finishing with more than a few km’s.
Two Long Time Donut Riders that I got to meet this weekend. They made me feel better when they told me they did the same rookie mistake I did!
The Donut Ride first happened in the 70’s and started with little more than a handful of riders. Today you can see up to 100 plus riders on a Saturday morning.
It’s no surprise to many people who follow me on Instagram and twitter that I’ve been spending a bit more time on my bike this summer. I’ve not retired from running (like some have asked) and I’m not injured. I was asked by my coach a while ago, “when you were in your best shape, what were you doing that you’re not doing now?” Without blinking, the answer was cycling. His response was, “So why aren’t you doing that?”
My Rumble Drink Kit for my upcoming bike race.
You don’t need to tell a girl who owns three bikes to start using them, more than once. Thankfully for my bank account this summer, no new toys were necessary to adjust my training.
After a few decent training rides, I signed myself up for my first road race. A few weeks ago I realized I’d only been training by myself or with one other rider. I had a small panic attack about the prospect of riding in a large group.
Enter stage left, the Toronto Donut Ride. Donut Ride #1. Last weekend, I showed up at 8:45 am bright eyed and bushy tailed, secretly terrified but also eager to attack this ride. In a few short words, I got my butt kicked.
This was really the only time I saw the middle of the pack and it wasn’t for long.
Rookie mistake #1. Being afraid of the riding in the pack, you ride up front, taking on the role of “Domestique”. I quickly learned that you have to be a little bigger than 5’5” and 120lbs to be the “Domestique” for 60 riders. Better idea: Stay in the middle to the right side of the pack or closer to the back. Take the warm-up part seriously and use drafting when necessary to ensure you are able to stay with the pack the whole time.
Staying right in the middle waiting for the sprints.
Rookie mistake #2. There are three routes with this ride. All are fast. One is long (130kmish, very hilly) another is medium (approx 110km – less hilly) and one is shorter (85km even less hilly). There is actually one other really long route but we won’t discuss that one. First timers, don’t go long! I did and I spent the majority of the group ride – alone. Really not sure? Take the short course.
The Middle distance Route. Doesn’t look too much different from the long ride, but trust me this is plenty of riding for a first time Donut Rider.
Rookie mistake #3. Check your ego at the start of the ride and no matter how long you’ve been on a saddle, there’s always something new to learn about pack riding.
Next up! Donut Ride #2 went 100% better. After feeling just a taste of riding with a pack, I was hooked. If I wanted to spend more time in the pack I had to re-evaluate the rookies mistakes I made the week before.
Photo Credit: Mark Buckaway. From the back of his seat, capturing me about to get my butt kicked on Donut ride no. 1.
I stayed far away from the front, which gave me time to properly warm up and when the sprints started, I had enough juice to stick with the guys. When the sprints slowed, many of them came by to pat me on the back for hanging in and also share some very important pack riding tips.
This ride has a bad stigma attached to it. Many are intimated by it and after my first time, I didn’t really understand why, after my second time I’m even more baffled. These guys are all ex pros or highly elite riders. Unless you are endangering the rest of the pack, they’re really fun to ride with. They’re happy to help and love sharing everything they can to make it a safe ride for everyone. The last thing they want is to see another rider get seriously hurt and worse, every rider behind that rider.
I’m the dorky girl who keeps wanting to take selfies. Thankfully the guys didn’t mind.
If you’re thinking of joining the Donut Ride there are few things I would highly recommend:
- You should be able to comfortably ride avg 35km / hour by yourself. If you get dropped you will have to reach speeds of up to 40 – 45km / hour to try to catch up.
- Learn the hand signals to communicate with other riders what you are doing and what is happening in front of you. Click here for hand signals 101: http://bitly.com/cyclinghandsignals
- Work together with the pack and share the work.
- If you get dropped or flat, no one will stop to help (unlikely) so be prepared to snake your way back home alone and be thankful you hung on at all.
- Don’t half wheel. It’s dangerous and puts everyone at risk. (I got slapped on the wrist for it once and won’t do it again!)
- Bring nutrition, hyrdation and a flat kit.
For more information about the Donut Ride go to:
Also watch GOTLIVE! with The GetOutThere Girls on Monday Aug 17 at 8pm EST. I’ve got highlights from my donut ride and we’ll be interviewing Kevin Lehman, A Donut Ride veteran to learn everything you need to know and why you should join the next one! http://bitly.com/GOTLIVE9