My friend David wanted to ride together this weekend. Then my friend Buddy wanted to know if I was leading a club B ride Sunday morning.
I saw a chance to kill two birds. I scheduled a B ride on the club Yahoo group, and agreed to lead it. Usually, that brings one or two people out who might not otherwise come. We had a total of seven — pretty good.
I suggested to David that we make a run to Kyle — 23 miles south of town, for a 45-mile round trip. But when I saw the newcomers sitting around outside Starbucks before the ride, I left the decision up to them: Kyle, or a short out-and-back to Buda, for about 32 miles total; or we could split the difference for a 38-miler. The third choice won.
On the way out, another rider jumped onto our group. Chris said he had been meaning to come out for a club ride for awhile but never got around to it.
At the end of a long gradual uphill, I heard a shout from one of the women in the group. Tara had dropped her chain. Her boyfriend Lucien came to the rescue and got her going again — but only a mile beyond, the group stopped while Buddy fiddled with his own dropped chain.
“Buddy is an optometrist,” I said while he worked. “So he always keeps a supply of surgical gloves handy.” Everyone chuckled, while Buddy got his chain adjusted, and we moved out again.
The pace was steady. Not too slow, not too fast. Steve, who was doing his first ride with us, found common ground with Buddy, since Steve used to teach the visually impaired in the Austin schools — and had even started a tandem bicycle club for them once. Newcomer Jan showed she was no newcomer to riding, because she had the knack of grabbing a wheel and motoring along smoothly behind a pacer.
When we got to Buda, we stopped at the Walgreens for a break. Depend on the fountains at the drug store to have cold water for bottle refills. I explained the next part of the route to the group, and we set out.
We rode through old downtown Buda, then turned onto Cole Springs Road, which leads through some forested areas and puts us in shade for awhile. The group stayed more or less together, which pleased me. But once we got to Farm Road 1626, we were in for another long gradual incline. Tara, the newest rider in the group, fell behind. Lucien stuck with her and we got to the turnaround.
“Here’s where it gets fun,” I said. “We’ll go downhill all the way back to Buda. We’ll go 30 mph through here.”
Lucien and Chris took me at my word, and shot off the front. I tried to catch them, with no luck. The riders strung out along the road, and we arrived back in Buda with large gaps between us. Lucien said he would wait for Tara while we went back to the Walgreens for a regroup.
Somehow, David had missed the part about regrouping at Walgreens, and didn’t see me as I tried to wave him down. He passed the store and headed off alone. We parked bikes in the shade and took advantage of the store’s air conditioning to replenish ourselves.
The route home varied from the route out. We turned onto Twin Creeks Road, which winds and dips and climbs for several miles. Tara was slowing by now, and I stayed back with her to coax her back to the group. Once we gathered again, we took a new route through a new subdivision — one that lets us stay off too-busy Brodie Lane and skip a dicey left turn.
Tara and Lucien turned off for a shortcut home. Chris turned in the opposite direction to go to his house. That left Jan, Steve, Buddy and me to reach the finish at Starbucks and sit around for some cold beverages. Steve thought the ride was a perfect distance, but Jan was ready for a few more miles. We all agreed the pace was just right — we averaged 14 mph for the 38 miles. A few A riders who had not done their entire route — 5100 feet of climbing — were there to greet us, and we compared notes.
The consensus was that it was a great ride. No one pushed beyond the abilities of the group, we got out in the country and rode some nice roads, and the terrain was varied enough to keep things interesting. These are the kinds of rides I like to do, and we’re going to be doing more soon.