I wasn’t sure I was going to ride that day. The Peninsula Cycle Club had scheduled a club ride. It might rain, I thought. I’d gotten in a decent ride the day before (35 mi.), but needed to increase my mileage, ramping up for the Steve Hartt Ride. I also knew that many of the riders would be a lot faster than I, and I wasn’t really looking forward to a 40 mile ride by myself (having gotten dropped immediately). 6:00AM Sunday morning I decided to go. We met up at Joe’s Crab Shack in Long Beach. The goal was to ride to Belmont Shore, about 20 miles each way. To make matters worse, I was late, arriving at the time we should be rolling out. Also, I’d been forewarned: Erin Pierson had asked on Facebook “if we don’t get any beginners, does anyone object to a longer ride to Laguna Beach?”
I have a love/hate relationship with group rides—I want to keep up with the group of course, but I don’t like holding other people up. When my friends slowed down to help me catch up, I didn’t like the pressure much, but I did push harder. At one point I’m sure I told Mike Strauchman to “just drop me and have done with it.” I must tell you that I was impressed and moved the people from the team that sacrificed to drag me along. Special thanks go to Mike Strauchman, Hugo Solano-Reyes, Jimmy Huizar, and Jonathan Paris. Occasionally I missed the traffic light; the whole group would stop or slow down significantly and wait for me to catch up. It must’ve been tough for some of them, but they handled it with equanimity.
I was somewhat taken aback by how much less daunting the Laguna Beach “rollers” were this year. Sure, I was a lot slower up the 5-7 rolling hills leading into Laguna than the fast riders, but the rollers weren’t nearly as tough for me as they were a year ago, when I did nearly the same training ride in preparation for the San Pedro to San Diego Steve Hartt Ride. After stopping at Laguna Beach for a brief snack, Mike Strauchman encouraged me to head out with him to give us a head-start on the rest of the riders. It may have occurred to Mike that this was one way to reduce the amount of time everyone would be delayed on my behalf during the ride back. Tony had already mentioned that everyone would be hammering back to Long Beach, so it had already occurred to me that it would be best if I didn’t take a long snack break.
I can’t say enough about these folks. Their encouragement, their unfailing support, meant a lot to me. This is a group of folks who live to ride fast. Slowing down must’ve been tough for them, but Mike Strauchman kept saying, “Bob, it’s not about riding fast today, this is about the club, and riding with friends.” I’m lucky to have friends like these.
[For the record: I rode 49.8 miles in 3 hours and 3 minutes. Only 973 feet of climbing, which is less than half what I do every Saturday going up to the domes.]