Big Ol’ Club Ride

The word went out early in the week: Our club sponsor, the Bicycle Sports Shop, would be involved in today’s club ride. They would have a mechanic on hand at the beginning of the ride, and make water, Nuun, and energy bars available. Afterward, they’d furnish a light breakfast. The member who posted the ride urged a big turnout of both A and B riders.

And he got it. I counted 38 riders at the start. Our typical Sunday ride draws 15-20. We jammed the parking lot of the Starbucks where we traditionally start our rides, much to the consternation of casual coffee drinkers who tried to negotiate their way to an open space.

We do tend to clutter the parking lot.
A Bicycle Sports Shop mechanic fixes a flat before the ride.
Pre-ride chit chat.
Penny, Judy, and Barbara. Judy is the A rider.

Although I often lead the B rides, I opted not to today, since both As and Bs would be traveling the same route. The Bs would just turn around sooner on the familiar out-and-back. So there was no designated B ride leader. That probably led to problems later.

One problem that set in involved my cyclocomputer. I cleaned the bike yesterday, but didn’t realign the speed sensor with its magnet, so I got no reading for the first two miles of the ride. When I stopped to fix things, most of the peloton had passed me by.

A few people were straggling, I knew. We take a convoluted route to get out to the main road for this trip, cutting through Granada Hills, a hilly neighborhood with lots of turns. If you haven’t done this ride several times, it’s easy to get lost. My friend Penny pointed me out to several riders who were back with her. “See that guy in the club jersey?” she said. “He won’t leave you behind.”

I almost didn’t. I made a bad shift going up a hill and dropped my chain. When I stopped to get it back on, several more riders passed me. I guessed I was now at the end of the pack. Unbeknownst to me, Penny and three other women were still a bit behind, but they lost me in all the left and right turns I made through the neighborhood.

I got stuck at the stoplight at U.S. Highway 290, which we have to cross to continue on our route. Now I was alone, and catching the group was out of the question. But it’s also a familiar feeling to me on this ride, so I didn’t fret about it.

Soon I came up to a rider on the side of the road. It was Rick, Penny’s husband, talking to her on the phone. He waved me by, then caught up to me a few minutes later.

“Penny got lost in Granada Hills,” Rick said. “I told her to track the route on her GPS. She’ll be okay.”

Rick pulled away in an effort to catch the main pack. I plugged along, and a half hour later reached the turnaround point for the Bs. Several other riders were there, and two I had passed came up to round out the group. We had an uneventful ride back for seven miles, when we pulled into a convenience store. (I wish I had some pictures from the road, but I dropped my camera, and had to reassemble it once we got back.)

Three women who had started with the group were at the store. I think they were part of those who lost us early on, because they were joking about having to find their way back through Granada Hills again, and weren’t sure they could do it. Even though two wore club jerseys, I had never seen them before and did not know them.

“If you wait five more minutes,” I said, “I’ll show you the way. But let me rest a bit.”

“No, that’s okay,” said one of the women. “You’ll probably catch up to us anyway.” They headed out with some other riders.

I remained in the lot with Barbara, whom I had ridden with several times before. We talked about dogs and drank some cold water, then I said I planned to take it easy on the way back. I knew she wasn’t familiar with Granada Hills either, so I told her I’d stick with her to guide her through it.

It was a good thing I did. At several intersections, she wanted to turn the opposite way from the route. We finally got to Starbucks, where we joined the Bs who had set out from the turnaround before us. The three women weren’t there.

Barbara bought her coffee from Starbucks, rather than drink the outside stuff.

Bicycle Sports Shop made good on their breakfast plans. Bagels with different varieties of cream cheese covered one outside table, as well as a container of coffee. I’m not sure about bringing outside coffee to a Starbucks, but I was grateful for the food. By the time I finished my bagel, some of the A riders were drifting in. Soon, the three women showed up.

“We couldn’t find our way through Granada Hills,” one of them told me. “After we rode around in circles, we finally asked some residents how to get out. It turned out they were cyclists. They got in their pickup and guided us out.”

“I got lost in Granada Hills” became an oft-repeated refrain as more riders showed up. Although it’s a twisty route, I thought once people rode it two or three times they’d have it figured out. Nuh-uh.

Penny rolled in, too. She did find her way out of Granada Hills and rode over to the Veloway to get in some extra mileage. “My GPS kept sending me out to Highway 290,” she said. “It thinks I’m a car, and won’t show me the side streets to take.”

Despite the problems, everyone seemed happy with the turnout and the ride. It’s the biggest club ride in my memory, and I’ve been a member for more than three years. But if we go through Granada Hills again, I think I’ll have to ride sweep.

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