I made my first ride with the Potomac Pedalers this morning. It was a ride along the Fairfax County’s paved path along Ox Road (aka 123) from the Fairview Elementary School to the Lorton Valley shopping center.
A few thoughts on this ride and riding in groups:
- I found it fun riding with the group because it felt safer — cars seemed to respect us as a group more than they do in ones or twos.
- It was a bit nerve-wracking riding with a group, though, because I was constantly worrying about watching the signals from the rider in front of me, wondering if I’m close enough/too close to the bike in front of me, wondering if the bike behind me is close enough/too close, worrying that I’m slowing people down.
- This ride was supposed to be 13 miles (at least that’s what the schedule said), and a “D” level ride, which should keep a pace of no more than 12 mph on flat terrain. However, it ended up being 15 miles and the pace was more like 13-15 mph. I was fine on the way out, but it was generally downhill. However, on the way back, I just couldn’t keep the pace up, so I grabbed Andrew and we had the “sweeper” go on without us.
- After Andrew and I broke off at our own pace, we were able to stop, go a bit slower for a while, and catch our breath. In fact, we stayed about the same distance behind the group once I caught my breath. We were also able to enjoy our surroundings a bit more — I even spotted a deer off the trail that we likely wouldn’t have seen if we had been busy worrying about the other riders.
Overall I’m not sure how I felt about the ride. I did enjoy being part of a group; however, I was very frustrated that I couldn’t keep up the pace on the second leg of the ride. However, when I found out that “D” rides were supposed to be kept at a bit slower pace, I’m more upset at the leader. I realize that the other riders had no trouble, but if the ride is advertised as a “D”, I expect a “D”. We’re thinking about another ride in two weeks, but, frankly, I’m just not sure…