My first group ride was yesterday. And I can’t stop thinking about it.
I mentioned it in yesterday’s post, and I was so nervous/excited about the thought of riding with a group that I hardly paused to think of the reason for the ride. I read Kevin’s blog post shortly before leaving the house and that helped put it in perspective for me.
For me, it was my first chance to ride with a group. For the group, this was a somber occasion. The Annual Ride of Silence was held nationwide in honor/memory of cyclists who have been injured or killed while cycling on public roads.
Many who showed up to ride knew of people who had been injured or killed on the roads. In fact, one of the organizers of the group was hit by a car just two weeks ago (he was not hurt.)
Kevin, Scott and I showed up early to do a few extra laps around the “booty loop.” For those that don’t know, the booty loop is a 3-mile loop in the Myers Park area of Charlotte. The loop is all right turns, and it’s on 4-lane roads in a mostly residential area (also around Queens University), and so cyclists can take up a lane. For the most part, cars stick to the left lane as drivers are accustomed to seeing cyclists around the loop. It’s called the “booty loop” because it’s considered the place to see and be seen – hot booty that is, belonging to the runners and cyclists that are always out exercising. I seem to remember there being another reason for the name too – something a little more scientific – but I have been unable to find any reason online other than to look at the hot booties!
I felt very safe riding there, I’m sure partially because Kevin and Scott were just ahead or just behind me. I was behind Scott for most of the ride, and it was a good learning experience – I was able to watch his hand signals. Jessica had taught me all of them before but it was good to see them in practice. I knew the basics (right turn, left turn), but I learned that cyclists signal to each other when to slow down or when there’s a pothole or glass, etc., in the road.
After 2.5 times around the loop, Kevin and I headed back to get ready for the group ride. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect – the Facebook invitation only showed 8 people attending. But it was much bigger than that – I’m guessing at least 50 cyclists, if not 100 (sorry, I’m not so good at estimating.)
Chris B. showed up as well – it was his first group ride too. The organizers gave a talk before we started. The talk was solemn – they say 700 cyclists die every year in the US after being hit by cars. Many others are injured.
The ride was held in complete silence, other than the occasional communication for safety reasons. We traveled at a slow pace, which was good for me because I’m still a slow cyclist. It was amazing being surrounded on all sides by bikes. I felt so safe as a group. The only sounds were gears changing and people clipping in and out of pedals and cars driving by.
Of course, the ride wasn’t without incident. I heard that one cyclist at the head of the group almost got hit by a car. A mini van was driving alongside of us, weaving between cyclists and parked cars, and a police officer was helping her to get by. She had her window open and broke into evil-sounding laughter as we rode by. “What the f**k is this, anyway?” she said loudly. I figured if she knew why we were all out there she would probably feel pretty bad about acting that way. Kevin said someone else yelled “Get on the sidewalk!” What a way to break the silence …
At any rate, this was an interesting first group ride. I know I need to become a little faster to stay with a group in general, but I look forward to the day I am able to do that. After, Jeff met up with us all and we celebrated with margaritas and beer and Mexican food. Yum!
P.S. Want to win a copy of Runner’s World or another cool fitness magazine? Check out Staci’s blog as she shows virtual support to a friend of hers who is beginning her weight loss journey. Life is always so much easier when you have a best friend, and Staci is a good one!