When I first decided I wanted to incorporate biking into my life, I made grand visions of myself not only making the bike the number one, go-to “vehicle” of choice, but participating in all sorts of group rides and competitions.
I’m not a competitions type of gal, and to be honest, reading about people who regularly participate in mega races clad in lycra freak me the eff out. I admire the Tour de France riders. I admire century riders. Hell, I myself hope to do a century, or two or three at some point in my life, but it freaks me out.
I thought I had it good, after I bought my bike just over a year ago, by making a commitment to bike to work regularly, and choosing my bike as the number one commuting option. I biked through rain dumps. I biked while the trail was essentially a small creek. I biked on super windy days. I biked on super hot days.
These days in themselves were the challenges I reveled in. Successfully riding through some element of inclement weather just has a badass feel to it. I can also smirk at all the cars that are sitting in traffic on bad weather days, because in D.C., a car accident is inevitable during inclement weather.
But I wanted something more than just riding to and from work. Riding to and from the bike shop. And (potentially) riding to and from local stores and eateries.
So what did I do? I did something I didn’t think I’d actually do.
I registered to participate in not only one group ride last year, but two. TWO! The first one was with a friend, and the second one—an even bigger feat—was by myself.
WABA’s 50 States/13 Colonies ride wasn’t too bad. My friend, Sarah and I opted to do small-scale route: about 15 miles around DC, hitting all the streets named after the 13 colonies. It was a nice, mellow ride with older folks who enjoyed biking. It was a nice introductory ride to what being part of a group ride was and could be like.
A few months later, in December, WABA announced their very first winter ride: The Cider Ride.
Sarah, and other friends I invited couldn’t participate, but I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to ride. In chilly weather.
There were three route options for this ride. The 15-miler stayed within DC. Then there were the other two routes that took you out to Queen Anne Farm near Bowie, Md.: a 35-turned47-mile route, and a 60-or-so-mile route.
In hindsight, I probably should’ve stuck to the 15-mile route. But no. In my stubbornness I decided I was ready to take on a greater challenge. I also wanted to ride out to the farm.
The 60-miler was out of the question. So I opted for 47 miles.
I was going to train. Honestly, I was. But Thanksgiving happened. The training didn’t, except for one random ride that was only about 20 miles at a fairly slow pace. (Going alone on this kind of joy ride was also a new first for me.)
Then all of a sudden, Dec. 7. I was at Canal Park signing in for the ride.
Luckily I knew two of the WABA folks, and met a third person, Rachel, from a previous event. Rachel was marshalling the ride with Garrett, in the rear of the 47-mile group so I decided to stay with them.
It was a tough ride. I put myself in a very physically challenging position that I thought I’d never be in. As we got closer to the Maryland border, a few people stopped and turned around to head back. I don’t blame them. We had just finished going up some serious hills that I thought I wouldn’t finish riding up. I felt the pressure to turn back too, but no. I was stubborn and determined.
Needless to say, we did make it to the farm. Being at the back of the group, people were already leaving the farm but that didn’t matter. After a short break, we saddled back up and headed toward DC. The return trip was extremely tough on my legs, but I couldn’t stop. I willed my legs to keep pedaling, and I’m grateful for Garrett and Rachel for keeping with my pace. Was definitely going a bit slow on the return trip.
Maryland’s roads are very scenic on a bike, and I’m entertaining the idea of riding them on my own, or at least with a friend. Sarah is planning on training for the Seagull Century, so I may just ride with her while she trains.
So will I be doing this again? The answer is a resounding Hell Yes.
While I may just do the shorter 13 Colonies ride again next year, I’m excited just for the chance to even register and ride around D.C. It’s fun to see the city on the bike, and refreshing. It’s definitely a different experience from walking or driving.
I’m also on the fence with some local rides. Bicycle Space does some weekly rides but I have yet to participate in any of those. And there are a few coffee gatherings that I have yet to get to… hopefully this year will be the year that I participate in at least one of these gatherings.
For bike newbies looking for something fun and different but not taxing, I’d suggesting keeping an eye for WABA’s rides.
Inspired by the Daily Prompt: Beyond the Pale