now, here is where the cast of characters come in. and because i know that some of my faithful running reader friends are now trying out the bike thing & riding the occasional club ride, i'll give you a few tips if you haven't already figured it out the hard way: when you are on a club ride, you learn to look out for the people that you want to stay away from. the people who might make your nightmare of learning what road rash feels like come true. now, i am sure that when i started on the club rides, i was one of those people to stay away from. but i'd like to think i am not anymore.
anyhow, the people i tried to stay away from would include: hairyback racerback tanktop man, neon bike shifters on the down tube man, crazy spin man, random erratic braking in a pace line man, basketball shorts and sneakers with toe cage dude, mr. big ol' t-shirt flappin' in the breeze and ms. red shorts (nothing wrong with red shorts, she just tried to run me off the road cause she wasn't even aware that i was there - hello, you are on a club ride, there are other people all around you honey. and, disclaimer #2: nothing wrong with shifters on the down tube - i started on a bike like that. i have fond memories of having to think way the hell ahead of time before i made a shift. and nothing wrong with neon. it's good to be highly visible on the bike. i just didn't like being on his crazy ivan wheel. although i'll say this: neon bike man is strong). not that there is anything wrong with any of this - separately. but put it all together on a club ride and it makes up for one jacked up ride.
then there are the people you want to be with (that is, if you can't be with your teammates who smartly rolled out of the parking lot first). you seek out a rider with a smooth spin, someone who can ride in a straight line and someone not wearing basketball shorts. (i totally get that everyone has to start somewhere. i mean, maybe he hasn't made the commitment to cycling yet and bought the cycling shorts or the clipless pedals. i was in this place once. i totally get it. but good god. dude was just a danger to society - albeit a damn strong one. the dude could not be shaken).
back to my jacked up ride: as i said earlier, ms. red shorts almost ran me off the road. i had to pull out of the draft more times than i can count to save myself from ramming right into erratic braking in a pace line man. don't even get me started on basketball shorts and sneakers in toe cages dude. that guy was all over the friggin place. dude. do you not see we are in a line? i thought i'd be better off just pulling out of the line and falling to the very far back, or pulling out of line and hauling ass to get up front and then weasel my way back into the paceline further up. i pulled out and even though i was feeling good & strong, the line was long and i knew i didn't have the strength or power to make it up front alone and i couldn't find the ambassador to escort me up there. i was thrilled every time i did drop basketball shorts dude, and hairy back guy. and then completely dejected every time they were somehow back in my general vicinity again. then there was a point at which the paceline fell completely to shit and everyone was all over the place - moving in a weird chaotic mass.
i knew it wouldn't be much longer before i could drop all their crazy jacked up asses when we turned off river road onto a long, gradual climb. usually on this ride, people drop like flies upon turning here but i was surprised that once we turned, the group was still going at a good clip. it wasn't long though before i started to count them off one by one as i passed. i think it was about sixteen, and there were still 5 people in front of me, 5 people that i knew would be tough to catch: the ambassador, cool racer chick, mr. big ass fans, neon bike guy, and - to my very great dismay: basketball shorts dude. (i didn't think he would be tough to catch, but dammit he was). at the very tippy top i got cool racer chick, but mr. basketball shorts got away from me. i even held off from out of nowhere tri girl with her tricked out tri bike who tried to pass me on the hill. um, i'm sorry, but that aggression will not stand.
now here's the thing: while i was busy smugly judging my fellow riders, and joyfully picking them off one by one on the long hill; they all passed me - every damn last one of them on the very last tiny little hill: basketball shorts boy, neon bike guy, hairy back guy, and i think some others i hadn't even noticed. damn. that jacked up cast of characters was strong.
needless to say, i was a little bent out of shape upon returning home. but the redeeming spin of the night came when my husband and i came home from our respective rides and headed out on another one with our three kids, who now all can ride their two-wheelers. in addition to my growing list of rides - club ride, pancake ride, skirt ride - i can add playground ride; it'll be a regular gig now too.
we rode with the kids to a local playground where on the way, our youngest almost took us out more than once. that girl cannot hold her line. it's gotta be hard though, when your flip flop keeps falling off and your webkinz bounces out of your basket. she'd have fit right in on tonights' club ride. i actually would not have been surprised if someone was riding in flip flops and had a basketful of stuffed animals.