Club ride Saturday. Club ride number 2 for us. We were going out with the 16-18 mph group, up from the 14-16 mph newbies group we were with last week. (Progress.)
All groups follow the same route to Deering Estates. The faster groups peeled out first and disappeared down the road. When it came time for our group to depart, we rolled down South Bayshore Drive towards the Grove in a crisp line of 20+ riders. Beyond the Grove the route meandered through a series of residential neighborhoods. It will be a while before I can navigate this twisting and turning route on my own. The fact that riding with a group requires less energy for the same speed was quickly apparent since the mileage of today's group ride was about the same as Al and my daily ride. Today's group was a pleasant speed for us, a good speed for social chit chat. (I made a mental note to talk Al into doing the faster ride some time for more of a challenge.) It was quickly apparent, too, that riders had a perceived pecking order. We needed to ride with this group for a few weeks and learn more about the group dynamics before we inserted ourselves into that pecking order.
There were a bunch of people who were riding to the break at Deering Estates, then turning around and heading home rather than doing the whole ride. Which meant they were also skipping the post ride group breakfast at a restaurant in the Grove. This was their compromise to their busy holiday weekend schedules. That worked for us, too, so we hooked up with them for the ride back to City Hall.
Shortly after we began our ride back, the skies got very, very dark. It started to rain. "Who wants to seek shelter?" Susie yelled to the group. "Keep riding!" they yelled; "We've got stuff we have to do." So we rode on as the rain changed from a shower, to a light rain, to a heavy rain, to a deluge. Rain sheeted down my glasses giving the scene an underwater vibe. We all found ourselves checking and moving cell phones to places more protected from the rain. I looked down at my camera in my snack bag splattered and glistening. I forgot to put it in it's plastic bag, and it was too late to worry about it. If it died, I'd just look at it as an omen that I deserved a new camera!
The rain slowed, then stopped as we approached the Grove. One of the Susies dropped back to me to smile and say, "That was refreshing!" A short time later we were waving goodbye to them at City Hall. Our next stop was a block down, a deli/market where we would dry off, sip some coffee, and stock up on some goodies for the holiday weekend. The sun was already popping out by the time our bikes were tucked into the bike stand, the official end of the group ride for Al and me.