The Group Ride.
The group ride is both loved and hated and for very good reasons. There is the adreneline of the pack, and the comraderie of a large group. Yet then there is the aggressive nature, the surging, and the disregard for traffic laws. However, I have been reunited with my group ride, and loving every minute of it. Well, until a sprint line, then it is strung out single file and I am not extremely enjoying it at that particular moment, but that’s the way it goes.
In so many ways the group rides I have done over the years have built me into the rider that I am. For my first 2 years on the bike, all I did was group rides. Ride around chasing a bunch of strong guys, and learning a lot about myself, my limits, my challenges, and my bike. I just rode when I felt like it, with whoever would have me. As my training progressed into more of a focused routine, with my goals in sight, I began avoiding the group ride. I had intervals to do. If I wasn’t seeing red, I was recovering, and riding too slow for the average cyclist. Hard, Slow, or nothing at all.
Then it came upon me. A balmy Wednesday morning in Marin. A group ride? I had 4 hours on the schedule and needed the motivation to get out the door. The instructions were simple. Just ride. 4 hours of just riding with my own thoughts usually inspires me, but on this specific morning, I needed something else. I needed friends. Not just any friends, I needed some strong wheels to follow. A group ride sounded like a plausible option.
I thought I would give it a go. Why not? I wouldn’t get lost. I could always drop out and no one would know. I entered the world of group rides again thanks to the Divine Electric Cycling Team, and their 9am Wednesday morning Java Hut ride. I casually rode up to the mix of 30plus men looking fit and ready to roll. With a few choice females there (Kat Carroll? Woo Hoo. Love her.), we were off.
It always takes a little while to assess the vibe of the group. Were we all composed of your typical hammering master racers in need of speed and pain? Were we going to chat like a casual Sunday bakery tour? I hung on and enjoyed the ride, and once again marveled at the amount of distance you can cover in large groups. I was approaching my usual timing points 15 minutes ahead of schedule! Oh the distance one can travel on the bike! I loved the speed! I loved the imaginary race lines! We fought through envisioned crowds of spectators up the climbs, we descended with confidence, and we regrouped by not stopping, but by merely letting off the gas for an instant. Then, just like a barn sour horse, the ride turned toward the familiar way home and once again, the gas was on, and the group was flying.
The lines weren’t painted into the asphalt, but there was a race out there. It was friendly, it was positive, and it was intense. The group ride inspired me. It brought back those early cycling feelings that I had. Those raw moments where there isn’t anything on the line. There is just fun, competition, and everyone ends the day with a success story.
The Group Ride. I will be back.