Joining the Bike Club

2017-10-09 – “I don’t want to belong to any club that would accept me as one of its members.” – Groucho Marx.

I’ve never been much of a joiner. I’m not really sure why. I think I’m just not very social. But I’m also always busy with my anti-social activities, like writing, practicing music, and riding my bike. You’re born alone. You die alone. You bike alone.

But maybe not. Yesterday, I went on my first-ever ride with a bike club—the Evanston Bike Club, to be exact.

One of my fears in joining a bike club was that I wouldn’t be able to keep up. I ride a lot. I’m closing in on my 2,000-mile goal for the year. But I’ve noticed one thing on the bike path. Although I tend to pass other bikers who dress like me (casual shorts or jeans and no racing tops), the serious cyclists, who look like they came out “Breaking Away,” all tend to pass me. I figure that the Breaking-Away types are the ones who join cycling clubs. How could I keep up?

It turns out that the clubs advertise the speed of their rides. There are fast rides, medium rides, and casual rides. Casual sounded like my speed. (I’m dressed for it, right?) So I decided to give it a try. (If I ever want to ride in any “century” events or cross-country events, I’m going to have to ride with people, so I better learn.)

So yesterday, we all met at Panera Bread.

Many of the rides meet at Panera Bread, so we had to sort out the mediums from the casuals. And the old-timers gave me the rules of the road. And then we were on our way.

At this point, Groucho was speaking loudly in my ear. These folks were just like me. They were my age. They had stories about what made them ride that were pretty similar to mine. They were off-and-on riders for years, but something made them finally decide that riding was something they loved doing. Good grief! That’s me. Could I stand to ride with people like me?

We eventually ended up at a bakery/restaurant 10 or 15 miles out, in the midst of a pumpkin-carving festival. We had a nice lunch. We had nice chats. And we headed back.

It’s late in the season, so there’s only one casual club ride on the advance schedule for the rest of the year, though they tell me that unscheduled rides are frequently announced. But I’m looking forward to riding. The casual riders, it turns out, aren’t always casual riders. Sometimes they ride in faster rides. Yesterday’s ride apparently was close to a medium pace. And I wasn’t even sweating it.

So sometime in the next week or so, I’ll try out a medium paced ride. And of course, I’ll continue to ride alone.

Until my fingers and ears get too cold.

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