A couple of weeks ago when I went on a ride with the Mayor I met a cyclist who invited me out to a weekly Tuesday night group ride that Stanwood Velo Sport bike shop sponsors. I haven’t done many group rides before so I was interested in giving it a shot.
Kicked out of the house When I got off work on Tuesday afternoon I was having my doubts about going on this ride because I’ve never been comfortable with just showing up to any group function not knowing anyone and trying to somehow fit in. This is where being married for a long time really pays off. When I told Jenny I was having my doubts about going on the ride she told me it wasn’t an option and at 4:45 she was going to kick me out of the house with my bike and lock the doors. There you go, my mind was made up, I was going on the ride after all whether I liked it or not. Jenny even went so far as to sneak out to the garage and put my bike on the back of the car when I wasn’t looking. What a great wife. I bet the rest of you guys out there are jealous now aren’t you?
Kicked to the curb When I got to the bike shop there were a number of cars already in the parking lot and people were milling around in their spandex. I spotted the cyclist who originally invited me to the ride and reintroduced myself to him. When I asked him how the ride worked he told me there were three groups going out (fast, medium, and slow) and that being that it was my first time I should go with the slow group. I inquired about the medium ride and he asked how much riding I did. I told him that I did a fair amount of riding and I thought I could keep up with the medium group. He then went into an unabridged monologue about how much riding he had done in the last week. It sounded a little something like this “Last Saturday I rode 70 miles and then the next day a buddy called and we rode 80 more and the next day, blah, blah, blah…..”. After a minute of listening to him it started sounding like Charlie Brown’s teacher talking to him. At that point I was convinced that I would do the slower ride just because I didn’t want to hear any more of the monologue. I’m still convinced that I could have put the hurt on the medium group or at least hung with them but that will have to wait for another week.
Will someone please be my friend? Now that I wasn’t riding with the one guy that I sort of knew I was in search of a new set of cycling buddies. I scanned the crowd of cyclists trying to figure out which group was the slow group. After eavesdropping on some conversations I figured it out and made my way over for some introductions. As I wandered up and introduced myself everyone in the group seemed happy to have another rider with them and went out of their way to make me feel welcome. What a relief! There was a definite theme to the group as at least half of the riders were either from England or Scotland. As I was standing there getting to know everyone a neighbor of mine pulled up and got out of his car. I had briefly met him before but he didn’t remember me so this was also going to be a great opportunity to get to know him. He also fit into the group very well because he is from England as well.
Bridging the gap As we headed out I fit myself in toward the rear of the group because I wasn’t sure what to expect. After a mile or so I could see that there was a group of three riders that had gone off the front quite a ways so I decided to catch up with them. I thought it would easy to bridge the gap between the groups but that proved to be more of a challenge than I expected. It took me a good 5 miles or so of averaging 22 mph before I could catch up with them. So much for them being part of the slow group. Just as I caught up with them 2 of the 3 riders decided to head back to the other group and ride with them. Since I was feeling pretty cooked by then I elected to stay with the lone rider in the front for a while. Riding with Don As the two of us rode along we headed into a pretty terrible head wind but I didn’t mind because we were able to ride side by side and visit. We talked about our kids and where each of us worked. It was really nice. After a while we came to a parking lot which was a traditional regrouping spot and Don waited with me until the rest of the group caught up with us. Once they were all there Don headed off to his home and the rest of us finished up the ride. I was able to ride with the shop owner for the remainder of the ride and we swapped stories about our bikes and what we liked and didn’t like.
When it was all said and done I was really glad I chose to ride with the group that I rode with the other night. Cycling isn’t always about how fast or far you can ride because after all the best rider is the one with the biggest smile on their face. I'm really hoping Jenny kicks me out of the house next week too.