Back in May I joined my local bike club. I figured it was about time. Today was the first chance I've had to go on one of their rides.
Conveniently, the ride started just a mile from my house. I got to the meeting place and met Doug, the ride leader. He handed out cue sheets to all the riders--there were 9 of us. I met a couple of the other guys, Bill and Johann. Bill used to come to my water aerobics class. I didn't recognize him, but he has lost 100 lbs! There was one guy I knew, Brian. He was surprised to see me.
We started out promptly at 10:00. Ride leader, Doug had a wedding to go to so we couldn't waste time. We headed toward Yelm on the road. Right off the bat, one guy got a flat. And then there were 8. Then another guy stopped to check on the guy with the flat (I think he was his buddy--didn't catch either of their names). Then we were 7.
We had a nice 18-19 mph pace going. I was behind the leader, a guy I later learned was Dave. Next thing I know, Dave is waving me by and I'm leading! This is my first club ride and I'm leading? I don't know how fast they want to go, so I just go my speed and see what the group does behind me. Oops, a little fast, because pretty soon it's just me and Bill. I slow down a bit and ask Bill what's the protocol here. Does everyone just regroup at the first planned stop? He said we could pull over and wait for the group. So we did. The rest caught up and we took off again. This time I was about third in the line. After a bit, the lead guy waves off and I'm now second behind the same guy I was behind before. Pretty soon he waves me on and I'm back in the lead. As I took the lead again, I thought to myself, at least I know the way to Yelm!
I led all through the Reservation to the outskirts of Yelm. I would have continued leading, but I wasn't sure if they were planning on staying on 510 or taking the 510 Alternate. At Yelm Elementary I was able to wave the group on and drift to the back of the pack (which was now at 6--Brian was no longer there).
We took the main 510 route into Yelm to our first rest stop/regroup at a gas station on the corner of 507 and Bald Hills Rd. I took the sleeves off my jacket and had a few Clif Shot Blocks. I told the guys I didn't know how fast they wanted to go along 510, but they said I was good because they don't like that section and wanted to be done with it as quick as possible. Doug said Brian had stopped to take his jacket off, but he never showed up at the gas station. Neither did the guy that had flatted or his buddy. I guess you'd say they got dropped.
After the break we headed onto Bald Hills Rd. I made sure to not be so close to the front. The group of 6 of us (did I mention I was the only female?) cranked back up to about 18mph. Pretty soon I was back in the lead again, but not for too long this time.
At Vail Cut-off we went straight. What's this? A new road for Colleen? The new road was Smith Prairie Rd. It was quite nice, definitely a prairie, and not too much traffic either. Then it was a right on Lawrence Lake Rd. I could see the lake off to my left. We took a left onto 153rd which brought us back to Vail Rd. At the gas station on Vail at 153rd we had another break. All 6 were hanging together pretty good. I took off my leg warmers and arm warmers and had the gal at the espresso stand fill up my water bottle. At the pace we were going, I was plenty heated up!
From there we were back on roads familiar to me. We took Vail Loop Rd off of Vail which just comes around and returns to Vail Cut-off.
At 507 Dave, Mark and I stopped to wait for Doug, Bill, and Johann. A pickup pulled up and asked if the three guys back there were our friends. Dave said yes and the driver proceeded to tell Dave how they were "stopped in the middle of the road" and how he almost hit them. Dave (who is a self-professed bit of a hot-head) said that "cyclists have just as much right to the road". The blah, blah, blah went back and forth. I just stayed out of it. I didn't see any good coming from it. The driver was not going to change the mind of the cyclist and the cyclist was not going to change the mind of the driver. Instead of getting all righteous, I think, if I were doing the talking, I might have just pointed out that the road has little shoulder and they might have had a flat tire or something. Turns out they were just taking a break and they said they were as far off the road as they could get. I think cool-headedness is usually a more advantageous way to deal with these sorts of situations.
Anyway, the other three caught up and we proceeded on 507 into Rainier. We took another small break so some of the group could refill water. Then we went up Minnesota to Rainier Rd and rode Rainier back to Lacey. For awhile, I was behind Bill, but he was getting pretty tired (still moving along at 15-16 mph though). I passed him on a downhill and caught back up to Dave and Mark. Doug joined us and we rode the rest of the way back to our starting point.
From there I rode home. Total miles was 50, and my average speed was 17.2 mph! Drafting is a wonderful thing, but I definitely held my own with the boys!