Well, we were treated to a big old piece of humble pie yesterday morning when we decided to join a Saturday morning group ride of single bikes. It’s known at the Saturday morning ‘Sky Loop’. Long time readers may recall we last rode this route (not the organized ride) on the tandem back in 2010 as part of an impromptu “pop-up” PEACHES ride where just one other couple took us up on our invitation to come out for a weekend spin.
Back when we last participated in the organized group ride the folks who showed up were what I’ll call civilian cyclists: folks who were avid riders who rode hard on the weekends, but not hammer-heads who train all week long, race on the weekends, and use rides like these to fill in the gaps. We were able to hang with that group for the entire ride which made for a nice outing. Sadly, we weren’t able to make it a regular thing.
Well, when we arrived at the starting point yesterday imagine my surprise when with few exceptions all of the folks who showed up were 30 to early 50 something guys with $4k racing bikes who looked very serious about their cycling. There were one or two riders who, along with us, didn’t fit the bill as hammerheads: we were likely the oldest folks there and of course the only people on a tandem. The guys were all pretty nice and few chatted us up before the start. There was a glimmer of hope that we’d be able to hang with them for a few miles before getting shelled out the back, but it was just a glimmer.
Once we rolled out of the parking lot and hit the road the pace quickly jumped to 18-20 mph during the warm-up and that glimmer of hope quickly began to fade as it cranked up to the low 20’s. I think we found ourselves getting dropped just after the 2nd or 3rd mile as the group had a tendency to make hard accelerations when they hit the climbs.
We weren’t the slowest riders, as there was one gentleman who got dropped during the first 1/4 mile who knew all of the short cuts, i.e., we’d see him turn off behind us and then show up coming in on a cross street a few minutes later. There was also another rider who was sitting on the back of the group who didn’t quite look like he was able to ride at the level of the other riders who eventually got dropped. One of the regular riders, perhaps even one of the current ride leaders, fell back to shepherd us along as it is billed as a no-drop ride. We told him to go on as we knew the route and had a map, but he politely suggested that he was nursing a bad knee and didn’t plan on riding hard. He ended up guiding us and one other rider to the store stop at 19 miles.
As we approached the store stop Debbie and I decided that neither of us really needed to stop and waved at our guide and the rest of the group as we by-passed the store and continued on to make it a non-stop 36-mile ride. I was familiar with the route which was good as the original road markings were pretty hard to see and aside from one map check we didn’t lose our way.
Well, sort of… I somehow missed the turn back to the starting point along the Silver Comet trail and we ended up riding another 2.5 miles before I came to grips with my error. So, all told, we ended up making it a 41.5 mile ride, about 1.5 miles than the standard route.
We rode hard over the entire route, which was the goal and purpose of attending the group ride. As expected, we were both spent with aching legs from the higher intensity effort and I think that’s a good thing. In years past, it was ‘hanging with the single bike riders’ on group rides like these that kept us in shape and gave us the legs that let us ride with the big dogs at tandem rallies. So, while it was a humbling experience, it did remind us why these types of rides are important.
On the down side, my sweetie was pretty much spent and aside from getting to the nail salon for a noon appointment, she used the rest of the day to recover. I fought off the urge to “chill” by immediately jumping into my weekend chores: cutting the lawn and other yard work under the hot noon-day sun, oil changes for my BMW R1100S commuter motorcycle and the black Harley-Davidson Wide Glide that doesn’t see all that much use these days. I followed up the oil change on the Harley with a trip to buy new rain gear for my daily motorcycle commute as my 7-year old gear didn’t quite get the job done on Friday when I rode home in a pretty strong thunderstorm. Thankfully I’d elected to dress down on Friday and didn’t end up with soaked suit pants and a big dry-cleaning bill.
We ended the afternoon with a stout batch of frosty Margaritas before heading off to dinner at our usual place with our usual friends. The evening was spent back at the house relaxing on the breezeway.
A good day, to be sure!