I learned entirely through accident – by reading the neighborhood newsletter, which I never do – that my neighborhood has its own bike club. Who’d a thunk?
They maintain a group site on Yahoo! where I learned all about them. There are A, B, and C class riders in the club – A being the “hammerheads,” or fast bikers, B the 14-16 mile-per-hour crowd, and C the beginners, families, hybrid riders, etc.
Looked good, so I mailed in my $30 family registration along with my and my wife’s signed waivers for club-sponsored group rides (if we’re hurt, we don’t hold the club liable).
They have regular no-drop rides on the weekends, with Saturdays being the faster of the two. I opted to show up for one of their Sunday rides. About 13 were there. We rode city streets to the far southeast corner of town, then headed out into the country. As the new guy, and the guy who was inexperienced in group riding, I opted to hang off the rear and see how the ride shaped up. One of the regulars, who styles himself as the club “sweep,” hung back with me and gave me tips on drafting. It was a pleasant ride, with lots of chatter about bikes and other things. I felt like I could keep up with them without any trouble. Then we hit the country.
It took me a few minutes to realize what was happening. But after a few minutes, only one other rider was anywhere near me. We were far behind, and could see a rainbow of bike jerseys topping a far-off hill. At the 20-mile mark, they stopped and waited. I caught up, downed a big gulp of water, and ate half a granola bar. Then they were off again. It looked like they were not going to use this as the turnaround point, but just keep going. Once again, I found myself with the same biker who had been alone with me when we first hit the country. He, too, was frustrated that he couldn’t crack a 15 mph average, but we were both on steel bikes (I still had the Raleigh at this point), and we weren’t in their league.
Finally, we hit a t-intersection, and none of the other bikers had waited to point the way. “Which way?’ I asked. “Left,” he said. We turned. And we didn’t see a soul for the rest of the ride.
Eventually, we made it back. Well, I did. My new biking friend turned off to head home before we got back to the local Starbucks where our rides begin. A few of the original group were finishing up their lattes, and I stopped to let them know we had gotten back all right. At that t-intersection, the group had turned right, and waited for us at a country store about a half mile down the road. After a half hour, they gave up on us and came home. Total distance for the day: 47 miles, and it was tougher than a metric century I had done back in November. But we had achieved one distinction: In the year and a half the club had been around, we were the first to ever be dropped in an organized ride.