My friend Rick had a great idea for a Sunday club ride.
“After two challenging days in the saddle, my aging legs are looking for a recovery spin at a long slow distance pace,” he posted. As a bonus, he suggested a starting time of 9 a.m. — much more civilized than the 8:15 a.m. start we traditionally have.
I and one other person posted that we would be there. When I got to our Starbucks starting place, however, a total of 10 riders had showed up. Two other club rides were going south at a fast pace, and to a very hilly route west of the city.
“I think posting that this would be at a conversational pace is what attracted people,” Rick said.
Everyone but me was an A rider, but because of the “conversational pace,” I didn’t expect any problems. Rick decided to keep the ride to neighborhood streets, and while some grumbled under their breaths that Sunday is a time to get out of the neighborhood, no one vocally complained.
Rick’s route took us on streets we all ride during the week, when we’re out for just an hour or so. It was fun to adopt the spirit of the ride, and chat with other riders as we worked our way up a nice bike-laned street to a turnaround point. Then we headed for a new housing development way at the south end of our area. The extension of our main drag goes on for another two miles or so, until we had to stop and do a U-turn when the road ran out.
Off to the Veloway for a quick lap. A few riders took that opportunity to put the hammer down, and disappeared. “It’s like you said in one of your previous blog posts,” Rick commented. “Riding easy is hard.”
The temperature, which had started at about 54 degrees (12C), was now warming up to the point that some of us had to stop to peel off layers. I was comfortable in a base layer under my cycling jersey, and arm warmers. Some had bundled up for much colder weather.
We went up a hill that isn’t very steep, but its length makes it a challenge, then headed back toward Starbucks. We had already gone about 15 miles, and Rick was looking for a ride in the 30-mile range.
That meant we weren’t going to stop for coffee, but plunged on to the north, where my old friend Convict Hill awaits. I usually ride Convict Hill first if I’m going to include it on my route. Now, it presented more of a challenge, because my legs were starting to tire.
At the top of Convict Hill, we had the option to take a side street down the backside. Coming back up is tough. I skipped the first one, but when we came to a second side street with a good drop, I joined in.
Rick couldn’t resist one more climb before we left Convict Hill. I do it all the time, but today it knocked me out. The rest of the group got well ahead of me as I struggled to keep the pedals turning.
The nice part about Convict Hill is coming down. We get to use a bike lane on a smooth asphalt road, and hit speeds of 32-33 mph. But at the bottom, I could only see one other cyclist make the turn to head back south. Everyone else was well out in front.
One of the best parts of our club ride is socializing at the end. While a few decided to keep going to add more miles, most of us stopped for warm beverages and conversation. I had expected to do around 40 miles today. I did 28. With the hills near the end of the ride, it felt like 40, or more. I’ll have to incorporate this route into my own repertoire of neighborhood rides. It’s a good one.
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