Several of my cycling friends have mentioned this Suwanee Creek Bikes Thursday ride and how much they liked it. With all the hipe, I decided to put it on my calendar for this week. It also helps that I live 10 miles from the shop, too.
This 18-miler was well attended by all levels of riders, from beginners to the A (or fast) group. The start is quite fast as you have a long downhill but then you make a left and everything changes; long steady climb followed by another fast downhill and stout climb. Because of the fast downhill start that leads right into a climb, there is no warm up, per say, if you want to ride upfront. But, no matter what pace you ride, the first few miles of terrain make it difficult for a warm up. Yes, there are many group rides that don’t offer a warm up but that doesn’t make them a bad ride. If you are like me and a warm up is necessary, just adjust your arrival time to allow for some spinning before the 6:30 start.
Throughout the ride, you get a taste of it all; flats, downhills, climbs, rollers…you name it. As a former motorcycle road racer and one who loves crit racing, I really enjoyed rolling through the town of Suwanee with a safe pace through its winding residential section. The road conditions were very good; no major bad spots that continued on.
I have been on many group rides where there were ‘re-group points’ but usually the A (or fast) group kept going; not this ride. I was pleasantly surprised that everyone stopped at the several re-group points and waited for all riders. I like this aspect because I can remember early in my group riding days when I struggled to keep up with the C groups and was dropped countless times. I believe if you show up for a ‘group ride’ , your expectation is to actually ride in a group; this is more important for those who are not quite to the fast group pace and still working on their legs, so to speak.
There were enough stretches of riding between the re-group points to get a great workout (if you want to push it hard) but not too long for those still working on increasing their pace that they would feel like being in ‘no man’s land’ forever. I think Suwanee Creek did a great job at strategically picking these re-group points.
As the ride started out, and with a wide varity of skill level, there wasn’t a lot of organization as it relates to single or double pace lines. However, once we reached got past the first re-group point, a single pace line was in affect for the most part. Most cyclists do not realize how significant riding in single or double pace lines impact a group ride…for the better (and safer). If you have everyone scattered all over the lane, it totally blocks your view of what’s ahead and for the most part, it totally blocks your ability to see any upcoming hazards, etc. Single and double pace lines clears everything up so you can actually see ahead of you. By the way, GA law states that we are to ride either in a single or double pace line; not scattered all over the lane. Just know that this is a distinct part of the law that governs how we cyclists are to be organized while riding.
If you join this ride for the first time, you will feel very welcomed, as I was greeted by countless that I had never met. The regulars made it a point and initiated the contact. I am no one special so I am confident that if you show up then you will get the same greeting.
There were no ‘attitudes’ or testosterone induced riders that could give this ride a bad name. Yes, there were a good number of very fast riders; just no attitude. Very refreshing and just makes this ride quite pleasant to join. Many came up to me after the ride and thanked me for coming. This makes their outreach genuine since they approached me before AND after the ride.
No matter your pace, if you ride hard (for you) between the re-group points then this ride will be like a good interval workout. You go hard, rest and go hard again.
If you choose not to push it so hard all the time between points, the buffet of changing terrain gives you the opportunity to choose where you want to challenge yourself and offers you several opportunities to recover, in addition to the quick rest at re-group points.
This group ride seems to have their act together. I left very excited that I showed up and understood why my cycling friends kept going on about this ride.
See ya on the road…