First, a little background info. I saw a Facebook post earlier this week from a gal I don't know, to a friend of mine. The post was inviting my friend to a women-only "Meet the Team" ride. There were actually three rides. One was that night, another was today, and another next Sunday. I commented on the post asking if I could go too. That set off a bit of a firestorm of comments resulting in a resounding YES! Well, I couldn't make the Thursday evening ride, but I could do both today's ride and next Sunday. The ride was to begin at Tumwater Falls Park at 10:00. Perfect! Tumwater Falls is about 7 easy miles from my house.
I planned to get there a little early. However, when I went out to the garage to take my road bike off the trainer, I discovered the rear tire was flat! CRAP! So much for getting there early, and why would I get a flat on the trainer??? Earlier in the week I had done some work on Star. One of the things I did was rotate the tires. I did have some problems getting the bead on the rear tire to seat into the rim at the valve stem. When I got home from the ride and repaired the tube, as I suspected, the hole was near the valve stem. Curiously, when I looked at the other spare tube (already patched once), I noticed the patch on that tube was in the same place as this one. Hmmmm...coincidence? Also, both tubes were size 18-28. The tire is a 28mm. The new tube I put on is a 28-32. Anyway, I changed the tube quickly and was on my way.
I managed to pull into the parking lot at Tumwater Falls with plenty of time to spare. The first thing I noticed when I rolled in was that there were guys there. In fact, there were more guys than gals. The next thing I noticed was most of the people were decked out in their Olympia Orthopedic Associates Team kit (nice red and black). I rode over to some women and asked if one of them was Michelle (the person who had done the Facebook post). Turns out Michelle wasn't able to make it. I recognized a couple of the other women (and at least one of the guys) from when Lorraine and I did Corner Marshalling for one of the races. Fortunately, there was a handful of non-OOA kitted-out riders such as myself. By the time we were ready to take off, there were close to 50 riders! WOW! 50 Olympia cyclists all assembled in one place! The team president welcomed all the new faces and told us the route (a 32 mile loop south through Tumwater, down Tilley to Goddard, to 183rd, to Case Rd., and back to Tumwater Falls Park). He also introduced the sub-group leaders (Cat 1-4, Masters, and Women). Okay! Was this going to be more than I bargained for? It was supposed to be a "Social Ride". No one would be dropped (hmmm, I've heard that before).
All the introductions and announcements being completed, we took off. Due to traffic lights through Tumwater, we were almost immediately split into three groups. I was in the second group. Once we were off Capital Blvd and onto Linderson, we were able to ratchet up the speed. When we got out of town, there was still a group ahead and a group behind, but the middle group was now only three of us (due to another traffic light that a few of us had just squeezed through). Our little threesome was another gal (not a team rider) and a team guy and me. As we were riding just out of reach of the lead group, the guy drifted back and said I should try to ride within a foot and a half of the wheel in front of me. Yes, I know this, but I don't know this gal in front of me. Then, he said we were in a tough situation because we weren't catching up with the group. I said, "Why don't we catch up with them then?". The gal in front of me said she was good with that too. The guy said, "Well, okay!". We easily caught up to the front group. I think the guy was a little surprised.
As we were riding along, a gal I know, who runs Go Get It Gals, rode beside me for awhile. We talked about her France trip and my New Zealand trip. It sounded like they had a great time.
Later another gal rode beside me named Chris. She is part of the OOA team. She asked me if I ever raced. I told her no, that what I really liked was touring. She asked if I mountain biked (no, I don't like crashing). She then asked if I ever did cyclocross (also no as I don't have a cyclocross bike). She thought I would like cyclocross (maybe--but I still don't have a CX bike).
One little annoyance on the ride was whenever we were riding on the chip seal roads, my rear fender would work its way loose from the chainstay cross piece and start to rattle. I would reach down and shove it back down (no easy task when you are a foot and a half from the wheel in front of you). Finally, we had a short stop at Maytown and Case Rd intersection and I was able to at least get it closer to the right place. Still it came loose again. When I got home I got it completely into the right place.
As we were getting close to the park and the end, a team guy, Jeff, rode up beside me and asked if I rode with the team often. I told him I had never ridden with the team before. He said, "This is your FIRST ride???" I told him yes and he immediately launched into how I could join the team, the rides they do, how I could get good deals on equipment and the team kit. At the end, I told Chris (one of the team gals) what Jeff had said. She said that's because I'm a strong rider. She said I should race cyclocross. Jean (another team gal) said no, I should road race. Hmmmm...maybe I'll investigate this further.
So, in the end, I did okay. I stayed with the front 8 or so Team riders. They said I was a strong rider and invited me to all the rides (although when I asked Jeff what the pace of the Wednesday rides was he said, "Oh, it's pretty slow, 18-20mph." Maybe I'm not understanding what they mean by pace. 18-20 sounds pretty fast to me, but maybe "pace" is not the same as "average".)
Miles ridden: 48 (my house to my house)
Average speed: 17.5mph
Oh, and Chris and I exchanged info as she wants someone to do longer rides with in the winter. That's totally awesome!