It was listed as a “CC” ride out of Gainesville. I had hoped that Terry Moran would go and I would shepherd him through the 39 or 49 mile ride. But he was injured so I thought I would go myself, even though the pace was slower than what I normally ride.
Although I had turned the cue sheet into a GPX file and downloaded that to my Garmin, I have ridden everyone of these roads before so directions were no problem. I pulled into the parking lot at 8:55 a.m. (wheels down, 9:00 a.m.) and quickly got ready to roll out.
The first riders took off and I quickly joined them. I was following a couple who were riding two abreast and his Gatorade came flying off the bike, almost causing an accident. We have water bottle cages on our bikes designed to hold water bottles – not Gatorade bottles. I wasn’t sure about riding in this group.
Just two miles from start we passed Antioch Road. As I rolled past I decided to go back and ride solo. I did a U-turn, the last I would see the group. I turned then went up Antioch Road and figured I would add a couple of miles then fall in behind the group at The Plains. The group ride would be fun because I would be in chase mode. Not hammer mode, just casually riding knowing that I would catch the group.
I miscalculated. The distance from Antioch Road to The Plains via Rte 55, the way the group went, was 7.4 miles. I figured my route was 2-3 miles father. It was actually only one mile farther, and even riding conservatively, it would only add four minutes to my time.
On the road joining the route at The Plains, I figured I was behind the last rider and that I would soon catch some riders. I didn’t, but neither did I worry about it because I was just out for my own ride. Approaching Great Meadows I thought I saw a couple of riders ahead which I timed them at two minutes before I stopped to take pictures. I caught them at Marshall where Greg and Jennifer had pulled over with a derailleur issue.
Greg got the chain back on her big gear which would enable Jennifer to finish the ride. Although she talked of calling a cab, I suggested that she simply turn around and ride back to her car in the big gear. I’m wasn’t sure where they were from but Greg asked if there was a shortcut back and I assured him that staying on Rte 55 was the shortest way. I told them, correctly, that it was about 12 miles.
They headed back and I headed to Marshall. Then the thought struck me. Even chasing, I really wasn’t having much fun on the bike. I went about a quarter of a mile then turned around. I had remembered Haymarket Bikes is in The Plains. I caught them in The Plains and told Jennifer there was a bike store here.
Jennifer, who was walking her bike up a hill since it was stuck in the big gear, said that she would ride on and take the bike to her local bike shop. This, in my opinion, was not a good decision. The bike shop could have fixed her cable in 20 minutes and she could be on her way. But we often don’t make good decisions on the bike. Or while pushing it.
I turned around then went back Hopewell and Antioch Roads, thinking again I was adding 3-4 miles more than Rte 55. I now know it was just one mile farther.
I made one stop. I passed a wine glass alongside the road. I know people throw out bottles and cans but a wine glass? I stopped and picked it up lest it broke and there was glass on the shoulder.
I thought I might catch Greg and Jennifer but didn’t. I assumed they were ahead of me and beat me back to my car. They probably weren’t.
It wasn’t the group ride I expected. Only in looking at the route I took do I now realize I only added one mile to my chase and, except for Greg and Jennifer, had probably came in ahead of the group at The Plains. I wasn’t chasing at all. I was still ahead of the group.
When I had caught them they didn’t act as though they were off the back of the group and was surprised to see a rider. In fact, in retrospect, they acted more like a couple of people off the front of a ride and weren’t surprised that I came along when I did.
It was fun trying to support them although they really didn’t take my advice. But I had gone into the red yesterday climbing Mount Weather and a recovery ride was in order today.