First Organized Group Ride!

On Saturday I went on my first organized group ride with our local bicycle shop, The Bicycle Stand. They sell new and used bikes, but specialize in vintage restorations. So as you can imagine, the local rides tend to attract some spiffy steel bikes.

I rolled up on my Giant TCR Advanced 2 which looked super out of place among the brightly colored road bikes of yore, but by the end of the ride I was honestly glad I was riding such a light bike that’s geared for climbing because the head wind was absolutely out of control and I would have died on a steel bike. Just rolled off into the shrubs and died.

We met up in Long Beach and rode through Belmont Shore and along PCH to our final destination, Balboa Island. Maybe it’s because I just watched “Jaws” a few weeks ago, but Balboa Island has some strong Amity Island vibes.

After about a 15 minute break for a quick bite to eat we headed back. The ride is a nice no-drop ride with regroups along the way, but a pack of 20 people or so will naturally break into smaller packs. Heading out to Balboa I was able to keep up with the front group just fine. Heading home, though, the wind kicked up real hard and after 10 miles I just couldn’t hold on to the pace they were setting. Wind was too strong, I’m still new to road cycling, and I just didn’t have the leg strength. There weren’t any regroups scheduled so I was effectively dropped. Luckily the rest of the group was totally fine with a less brutal pace, even if by the end of it we were all spent. The last nine miles felt like twenty because of the wind, but that’s pretty much what you have to deal with if you ride in Southern California along the coast.

As you can see by the screen grab from Strava, not exactly the fastest average speed, but that was largely due to the tiring wind coming home. Going out I averaged somewhere in the 17 mph range. What I did learn, though, was that I need to bring more food in my jersey on a ride that’s longer than 40 miles. The last 17 miles started to get a little tough and I felt a headache coming on. Luckily we stopped about 10 miles from home for a quick rest and once I scarfed down an entire Clif bar, the headache went away. Next time I’ll prep a little better and bring more road snacks to eat as I ride.

It was a fun experience and I’ll definitely go on next month’s ride. I usually ride with one person and when we ride with friends there’s only four of us. Getting started with a large group can get a little frustrating since people show up late and some need a longer warm up period that others, but I felt like I went a lot faster trying to keep up with the quick riders once we actually got into a rhythm and had the first 15 miles behind us. And my constant fear is that I won’t be able to clip in my damn shoe and slow someone down behind me. That fear was not realized and hopefully it stops being something I worry about.


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