Saturday was a major outing with CSBG. Even though many of the riders are retired, quite a few still have daily obligations. So, weekend rides are special and seem to attract a larger group. Certainly that was true of this Ride to the Peach Cafe in Monrovia, as it was titled.
The meeting was 8am as always, for the power group, but at a new place for me, the Hughes Center. CSBG had a different starting location for almost every day of the week. Most in the many blocks north of Claremont, before the mountains really start. This was a large group. There was even an announcement about riding. And off we went. A few minor hills, lots of bike paths that I had not seen before, and finally a complete stop at a park. It had bathrooms and there were more riders joining us. In fact, the whole parking lot was full of bike groups, no just ours.
There was even a photo opp that you can see the results of on my Overview page. We picked up and motored onto Monrovia. People had tried to call ahead, while we were back at the Hughes center, to reserve a table at the Peach Cafe but the report was that they were too full. So we knew we had problems. Indeed, when we got there, other patrons were waiting. One of the CSBG leaders went in and reported that the best strategy was for us to present ourselves as "two" and also large contingents of our group moved off to other spots. One of the SCBG riders, Jane, announced that she needed a partner and I signed up and went in to get us on the waiting list. We were seated quickly. I had a wonderful bowl of fruit and a muffin. I'm not much on eating while in the middle of a ride. The next day I rode with Corey McCroskey, the owner of Coates Cyclery. He joked about how was I doing eating a large meal with each CSBG ride and how he had given it up for that reason.
Jane had a real meal of at least pancakes? It was wonderful getting to hear about her adventures. I had been introduced to her as "Jane from Maine". Her family has a house in Sweden Maine and she goes back each summer. I hope I will have a chance to ride with her again from Sweden. This meal was leisurely but the service was good and when we came out a group was ready to leave. We joined them though a lot of others were still eating and came away later. We did some of the same bike paths and some hills on the way back, probably near to 40 miles in all. The bike paths around Boston are not road bike friendly. A man with a walker is being passed by a woman with a stroller as a road biker comes the other way. It is a formula for disaster. These California bike paths are further out in the country, attract less varied traffic, and maybe they are wider? Anyway, they seem to work fine.
As at the end of most CSBG rides, people just peal off. I found my way home and it was probably 11am or after!
Sunday, I joined the Coates Cyclery ride. I had talked to Corey about joining and he had assured me I could keep up. As always, I was very early maybe at 7:30 and just walked around. Finally one rider and then 6 more showed up. This was definitely a more serious group. Corey checked my tires just with his hand and off we went. We headed over to what I had explored on Friday, Bonelli park and then on to an area I had not seen before, Via Verde.
It became apparent on this ride that I have two main weak points. Turns out that I can climb, not fast, but I can do it. I think this ability comes from my "jumping" practice. When I am riding my normal 10 miles up and 10 miles back along the NH coast, when I am passed, I try to jump on the passers wheel. Most of the riders I can catch. Not all. And many I can not "hold the wheel". I huff and puff my way up but then I have spent so much effort in the catch, that I can't hold their speed. I have to drop back. Anyway, turns out this exercise, which is just a game for me, results in what real athletes call intervals. If you want to get faster, don't just run steady. Speed up and then slow down to a recovery pace and then speed up again. Doing intervals. Anyway, seems I have been doing intervals and that gives me the legs to climb hills. I do like to climb as fast as I can in order to get the pain over!!
Anyway, I was expecting the hills to be my Achilles heal but they were not. Instead, it was the stopping/starting and down hill. I'm not a great bike handler. I'm not familiar with the terrain. I have no idea what is around the next downhill curve that this group is racing down at 30+ miles per hour. I never ride hills. The coast of NH is flat. So, I keep a heavy hand on the breaks and fall pretty far behind on the downhills, of which there were MANY very steep ones on this ride. Luckily, I had wonderful disk breaks on my rental bike that squieled but also worked perfectly and gave me confidence.
My other weakness that presented itself is stopping and starting. Any bike group is regularly stopping to allow stragglers to catch up, to have a drink, to talk about the next turns, to follow stop signs and not get killed, etc. I'm slow at getting back up to speed? Once I am moving, I am in good shape, it is the stopping and getting going again that leaves me behind. Why? I do not stop at all on my 20 mile NH ride. I have no lights or stop signs! Once this dawned on me, people asked how is this possible and my answer was: none of the fish want to come out of the ocean. There are no lights or stop signs along the ocean where I ride!
We probably rode 30 miles. Lots of hills but not as many steep ones as in the coming days. Another rider was having some trouble and one rider had a mechanical problem that Corey worked on. The strangest event of the ride was that we cam up to a stop light where 2 unrelated riders were waiting and one said hello Tom. He was from the ride yesterday. I'm getting to become known! We stopped in a town and one of the riders ate from his supplies but we did not go into a restaurant. As with the CSBG rides, I never went back to Coates Cyclery, we just disbanded one by one on the road. Another great day of exercise!