Guest poster Don Blount suggests you not join the first bike club you hear about — first, check out several, then decide.
But I do have a window on Saturday mornings. So I have targeted a few of those a month as an opportunity to get out.
I found that just picking a group and riding with them isn’t as easy as it appears.
I had to figure out what I wanted in a club and as part of that process, I e-mailed three groups within a 45-minute drive of my home.
One of three, the Stanislaus County Bicycle Club I didn’t hear back from for weeks (more on this group later).
The Stockton (Calif.) Bicycle Club got back to me within a few days but said most of the rides they were doing in March were too difficult for people just coming out. One of the membership people sent a followup e-mail: “The SBC rides are often heavy with Type-A’s. Many of us are retired with time and disposable income. Sometimes the rides are not friendly to the new person but you’re doing the right thing by making inquires … hah!”
He went on: “That’s the other thing — we are mostly in the AARP-Social Security Range. Young riders come out but it’s almost always ‘one and done’. Can’t blame ’em.”
So it didn’t sound too attractive.
I also received an e-mail from the third group, the Sacramento (Calif.) Wheelmen. This is a large group, its website says it has 600 members. The group usually has three to four rides each Saturday. One of those often begins about a 40-minute drive from my home.
“We hope you can join us. You don’t have to be a member to join us on rides, but if you do, you might decide to join up.”
I did join them for a 40-miler on a recent windy Saturday.
I had a good time in spite of the wind. I was most surprised to see that most of these riders were older than me. One guy was 75 and logged 15,000 miles last year. That’s farther than I drove my car.
When I asked how he managed to do that, one of the others chimed in, “He’s retired!”
The ride leader was 70 years old.
They weren’t hammer heads. I could even hang with the A group, but that may have been because of the wind as they just tried to keep the group together.
I had an enjoyable time riding with them and may look for other opportunities to ride with them again.
I’m not looking to race and I doubt I would socialize much with this group, in part because of the distance from my home. But I found the joy in riding with others.
This experience would become my baseline for comparison when I joined the Stockton Bicycle Club for a ride two weeks later.