Last night I attended my first cycling club ride. It was not an auspicious beginning.
I joined the local club in hopes of finding others at my level to ride with. Someone who might be willing to do long distances at slow speeds. On asking about the different rides, I was informed that Thursday nights they had a slower “no-drop” ride of about 10-15 miles.
As they say, never bring a knife to a gunfight. In this case, I brought my beatermobile commuting bike instead of the road bike. The one I took is half mountain bike, half something that’s not quite a road bike, with mismatched wheels and one thumb shifter higher than the other on the handlebars. It's cobbled together from parts and pieces from multiple bikes the man in my life has scrounged over the years. Not only that, but I left the panniers on, stuffed with my work clothes and purse.
For a mellow ride, I figured it would be enough. It became apparent quickly that not only was the ride going to be longer than 10 miles, their definition of “mellow” was a little less, well, mellow than mine.
We rode the bike path. I managed to keep up with the slowest rider, although I was running out of big enough gears to pull it off. From time to time the front group stopped and let us catch up. About eight and a half miles out, way the heck on the other side of town, I hit a grate on the entrance to one of the tunnels and felt my handlebar somehow somewhere else than it had been. When we caught up, I discovered that not only was it now 2 inches off-kilter to the left, the thumb shifters were in even more of an oddball position than they had been.
The ride leader was kind enough to pull out his tools and fix it, and we were off again. Against the wind on a hill, I made the fatal mistake of downshifting into the middle chain ring on the front. Didn’t take long to start falling back. (Remember the big gears thing?) So, I went for the big front gear again. It didn’t want to shift. I pushed it a little harder... and heard a snap. Front derailleur cable was flopping in the breeze, and the chain slipped quickly down to the smallest gear.
I’ve had a few bikes break on me, but never the same bike breaking twice on one ride. In front of people I barely knew. Not good.
At their next stop, I let them know I’d be cutting off the route and limping my way home at that point, as I’d never be able to keep up. They were very kind about it and concerned that I’d be OK. I reassured them I’d be fine, that I could get home from there.
I can’t even remember the young man’s name, but when I was in college I went on a date where the guy had not one, but two cars break down on him in the same night. He arrived at my house in a car with an alternator out. Mercifully, I lived on a hill so we could roll start the thing. We went back to his house to pick up his mom’s car and drove the 15-20 miles to the little town where the art theater was. We had a lovely time. On the way back, on a peaceful country road, the car up and died. We wound up walking to a farmhouse in the dark and asking to use their phone.
It was our first date. As I recall, I did go out with him again. So there’s hope for me with the cycling club.