That would be the Vancouver Bike Club. Vancouver, Washington, that is.
Son number 4 is spending his weekend as a member of the All-State Symphony Orchestra in Portland (yeah, yeah, I know...but...isn't Portland in Oregon? Why is Washington All-State in Oregon? It's a long story and not the purpose of this blog.). For me, it means four days to hang out and do some riding in my hometown.
A few weeks ago I looked up the Vancouver Bike Club online. They have a pretty decent website with a nice active ride calendar. I found a ride that looked good and emailed the ride leader. He was happy to have me along.
I showed up at the start after an easy 6 mile ride from my dad's house. There were about 15 of us. We all signed the roster. There were three other women, one of which was also a guest. Dick, the ride leader, went over the details of the ride and introduced us guests. Then, everyone else introduced themselves (I'm generally good with names, but not that many--I just tried to remember the other gals' names (Kristin, Debbie, and...well, two out of three anyway) and a couple of the guys--Dick and John (oh, and Chris).
Dick said they would probably split into 3 groups--a fast group, moderate group, and a slower group. Really, something for everyone. He said the fast group would probably go about 18-20mph average. Sounded good to me. There was also an option for an extra 5 mile loop. That, too, sounded good. It was probably the most beautiful day, weather-wise--blue skies, sunshine and mild temps. I could have ridden all day! I even got to wear my SUNglasses!
We took off on the ride. Before long, we were on a quiet road following Salmon Creek. We crossed the creek and climbed up a steepish hill (on Strava I got 2nd overall on that hill!). Then, there were a whole bunch of turns, through neighborhoods with speed "humps", and a short dirt trail section at the end of a road. I had absolutely no idea where I was. I was loving it!
We re-grouped at a gas station about 12 miles into the ride. One of the guys asked me if the pace was what I was used to. Actually, I'm used to going a bit faster. I told him that. He said, "Damn you!". Of course, it was all in fun. Apparently, the pace we were going was a little bit more peppy than some of the folks were used to...in February. I think the nice weather was encouraging the peppy-ness.
There was a group of 6 of us that planned to do the "China Ditch" loop (the extra 5 miles). Part of it is a long straight stretch. We did a nice tight paceline, taking turns on the front. It was a little windy, but certainly not the worst I've been in. There is also a Strava segment for this section. I got 2nd overall.
After the straight stretch, Debbie was leading and I was behind her. As we passed a street to our left, one of the guys hollered, "LEFT!" Apparently, Debbie didn't know the route that well. Her and I turned around and went back to the turn. By this time, the group was a little ways ahead. I decided to pretend I was pulling a "teammate" back to the group. We were back to the group in about a minute. Kristin was surprised we caught up so fast. Woo Hoo!
For the next turn, the guys decided to have a little fun. Each of them made sure to tell me several times that, after the train tracks, we would take an immediate left ("After the tracks, take an immediate left." "We're going to cross some tracks. Go left after the tracks." So on and so on.)
Near the end of the route, we rode through the WSU Vancouver campus on roads and bike paths. Too soon, we were back to the start. Because it was so nice out, I opted to not have coffee at Starbucks (I don't drink coffee, and I didn't need a hot cocoa) with the group. I thanked Dick for letting me join them. I really enjoyed the ride. I told him I would take the long way back to my dad's. He told me a good way to ride when I told him where I needed to go. I followed his directions and made it back to my dad's a little after 12:30. Total miles for me was 43. My overall average was 16.7mph. But, that wasn't the end of my riding for the day...