June 30, 2018

Riding with the Bunch

After last year, I was looking forward to repeating the MacMurray Ranch training ride for Best Buddies and was excited when it materialized on our calendars.

Mural showing a map of Forestville, California
I was eager to book the same Airbnb spot and was delighted that it was available. This year, I was joined by a biking buddy who took the leap to register for the big event this fall!

It was promising to be a hot day, so everyone was ready to get rolling. Our ringleader and master of ceremonies, Richard Fries, commanded us to “Go easy when it's hard and hard when it's easy” in a noble attempt to keep the group together. No reason not to do the 40-mile route today (well, other than the impending heat), and this year I saw a range of riders lining up. The hammerheads would split off soon enough, and the rest of us would stay together.

Or so I thought.

My cycling computer showed that I averaged 15.7 mph (!) for the first hour, and for me that's not sustainable. This was the slow group?

Bicycles lined up in front of the Dry Creek General Store, Healdsburg, California
When we stopped for our break at the Dry Creek General Store, I learned that I was part of the “middle” group. [Ohhhhh.]

The fast group was ready to roll when the slow group caught up, and the middle group was dawdling. “Let's go,” I said. “They'll drop us, but the day is only going to get hotter.”

pep's bike on the Wohler Bridge over the Russian River, Forestville, California
I soon found myself in a familiar in-between place: behind the fast group, ahead of the slower groups. That suited me just fine, allowing me to indulge in some photo-taking.

Despite the heat, the last leg on Eastside was actually pleasant—a little bit cooler, with a hint of a breeze even.

Green grapes on the vine, MacMurray Ranch, Healdsburg, California
We rode 38 miles with a scant 695 feet of climbing—which factors into how I was able to average 14.9 mph (wow).

Back at the party, Richard said “You're a strong rider, I watched you in the group today.” [Me? A strong rider?] “I have no power,” I sighed. “We can work on that, and the first thing is: Stop saying that.”

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