Carpe Diem, The Series: Wednesday Night Group Ride

group cycling

Paul Stevens

What a difference a couple of weeks can make!  To this point, we have had very sketchy weather with lots of rain and cool, blustery days.  Then, POOF! All of a sudden, someone found the heat switch and summer-like temperatures have arrived.  The timing for this was a masterstroke as the first warm-up ride for the coming Gran Fondo ride was held last Wednesday evening.

Gran Fondo

This year’s Gran Fondo, scheduled for the first weekend of August will be the second in the area after last year’s inaugural event that attracted some 700 riders.  Organizers are expecting about 800 riders this year which is a nice bump up from the 2016 total.  In concert with the big event, the organizers are holding a weekly ride on Wednesday evenings as a tune up.  There will be a total of 12 of these rides which in conjunction with ones that participants would be doing on their own, this get everyone reasonably ready for their selected distance; 50, 100, or 150 kms.

This past Wednesday was the first of these tune-up rides and about 115 (!) riders attended. Meeting at a local bike shop, riders were asked to select the group that they thought would best fit their abilities.  Groups of 10-15 riders were split up and named as follows:

  1. Latte – 20+ kms @ 16-20 km/hr

  2. Cappuccino – 20+ kms @ 20-24 km/hr

  3. Mocha – 20+ kms @ 24-28 km/hr

  4. Americano – 30+ kms @ 28-30 km/hr

  5. Espresso – 30+ kms @ 30-32 km/hr

Somebody with a lot more creativity than me came up with these names.  With the number of attendees on Wednesday evening, there were several groups within each category.  The idea was that too many would create potential traffic problems and any riding mishap would have a significant domino effect. (Ever seen a bike collision in the Tour de France? Not a pretty sight.)  Limiting the numbers to 10-15 would give less experienced riders the chance to get the feel of a group ride while not being overwhelmed by a massive pack.

Related Article: Carpe Diem, The Series: Preparing For Gran Fondo Canada

Wednesday Ride Group

Each ride will be preceded by a 10-15 minute chat about things like road safety, fitness tips, nutrition, and the like.  Since Wednesday was the first ride, road safety was discussed just so everyone understands the simple rules to help the group stay safe.

Scanning the group before we departed, it was apparent that there was a lot of money tied up in bicycles.  A decent road bike these days will run $1500- $3500.  You can spend less and get a department store special and you can certainly spend more, a lot more, and have the Ferrari of bikes costing as much as a small car or at least a good used one.  With the number of riders in attendance,  I was looking at hardware totaling somewhere around a quarter of a million dollars, and that does not include shoes, helmets, shorts, tops, gloves, and all those fancy GPS/speedometer/odometer units that are out there. 

Buying A Used Bike Vs. New

As a suggestion, if you are considering getting into cycling, you may want to consider looking for a good used bike.  Get yourself properly sized at a decent bike shop so you can locate a bike that will fit you comfortably.  Scan the internet sites that offer such equipment and you will save significant money.  There is always that person out there that has to have the latest and great thereby offering up their current bike for sale at a tidy discount.  You can read a few on-line articles about what to look for in a bike and these are plentiful and very useful.  If you go this route, don’t sour on the fact that you may have to spend a few bucks to get the bike up to speed; tires do wear out and a good tune-up/adjustment can work wonders. 

If you take your time with this and do a bit of simple research, you will end up with a better bike than buying new for the same money thus enhancing your enjoyment of a great way to get yourself outdoors.

A Windy Ride

cyclingAlthough the weather was very mild for the first group ride, it was also very windy.  You may recall that the wind and I do not see eye to eye. I really don’t like it in heavy doses and there was plenty of that on Wednesday evening.

Knowing that, I should have made a more reasoned selection in the group that I chose to ride with.  I chose the ‘Americano’ group as I was interested in doing about 50 kms and I can hold the appropriate pace – but that would be when winds are light or non-existent.  Let me say that with the very strong winds punctuated by more than occasional gusts, I was quickly humbled as my fellow riders pedalled past me with what seemed like no effort. 

Thinking back on it, most of my fellow riders looked to be on the younger side, say, 30-45, so they should be able to beat me more often than not.  I just had my 62nd birthday a couple of weeks ago so I guess I shouldn’t get down on myself for looking like a laggard.  Anyway, that’s my story and I’m sticking with it.  I finished the ride but was pretty gassed upon its completion.  Once I returned home, I think I drank enough liquids to fill a camel’s hump and that was after using the water bottle I took with me on the ride.


Next Wednesday will be here before I know it and I’ll give a little more thought to my group selection.  I don’t mind stepping down a notch but I do want to get in the kms as part of the training for the Gran Fondo.  At any rate, I’ll have my Manditos to ride with in addition to these Wednesday sessions so two or three solid rides per week with some gym time in between will get me to a point where I will be as good as I can get.  In between, I may even get my deck finished!

Your friend, Paul.

And remember – Carpe Diem (but in relaxed sort of way)!.

Related Article: Carpe Diem, The Series: Becoming One With The Wind

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