After doing a few large-scale rides, I had wanted to try riding in a regularly scheduled group ride. I liked the idea of a social ride and being part of a set of bicyclists.
It took a lot of trial and error to find a group I could ride with. My first attempt was on a shop ride. I was riding my trusty hybrid with a rack bag. Everyone else had chic road bikes. I was dropped even before I left the parking lot. It was humiliating. When I got back to the shop, I tried a bunch of road bikes. Compared to my hybrid, I felt like I was flying. I was finally convinced that I needed a road bike for these kinds of rides.
I called another bike shop, who recommended I join a bike club. They would have slower, more leisurely rides, the shop said. So I did. I went on a few rides, and they were fun. Still, I wasn’t entirely satisfied. Most of the club rides start farther away from where I live, and I’m too lazy to drive out to them. The rides that do start near me aren’t offered often enough for my taste. And– I figured this out only recently– I found that I want to go faster than the rides I’ve been on.
When I told some of my friends that I was looking for a good group ride, they asked me what I had meant. I replied, “My idea of a perfect group ride is a ride where everyone stays together as a group, but goes at a decent speed. Slightly challenging, but not impossible. Nice scenery, little traffic, long stretches of pedaling. I’d like to enjoy the ride enough to want to do it again so that I learn the route and not worry about it, leaving me to concentrate on my form. Oh yeah, and a good place to eat afterwards.”
This past weekend, I tried another shop ride, one that had promised a “no-drop” policy. They kept their word. The leader regrouped frequently, waited for the slower folks to catch up (sadly, they were on hybrids), and rode together as a group. The people on this ride were friendly, and the ride itself was a little hilly, but not dispiriting. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a group meal, but there were plenty of good places to eat in the area, so I’ll count that.
I think this one’s a keeper. I’ll have to ride with them again and see how it goes.