Today I went on my first group ride. The title was "Nice N' Easy," so I figured this would be a good one to go to. I left my house, brought my bike to the LBS just to make sure everything was in working order, and then went to the meet-up spot. The ride was scheduled to leave at 1:30pm. When I get there around 1:15, there are a couple of people there and I chit-chat with them for a little bit. Everyone was really nice, although in noticeably better shape that I am. Someone then asked about how long the ride was going to be today. The answer "20-25 miles". Oh crap; the longest I had ever gone was 12. I know that I could have done more, but I wasn't sure just how much more. I should also mention at this point that it was about 90 degrees out.
We left around 1:35 and everything was going pretty well. The route was basically an out-and-back with minor variations. We got to our first stop which was about 11 miles away from the start, so my total trip so far was 15 miles. I was actually feeling pretty good. We were keeping up a pace of about 10-11 mph and that was great for me. I normally do 12-13 now and going slower was keeping me less tired. I was happy. For the most part, the ride up until this point was pretty flat with some rolling hills and the like. There were no real big downhills.
After we stopped on the side of the road with a great view of Lake Monroe, we went back the way we came for a couple miles and then took a right, instead of the left that would bring us back the way we came. I had no idea what was in store for me. We dropped about 200 feet in a mile and a half and this brought us right down to lake level. I was pretty sure I was going to have a problem soon. Right after the lake, maybe half a mile, I faced the biggest hill I have ever seen. It was about a mile long and I had to walk about 3/4 of it. A couple of the riders were nice enough to wait for me right at the top and the rest of them were waiting under a nice big tree about 1/4 mile away. At this point, I was exhausted. That hill, even walking it, absolutely killed me. Fortunately, we had another stop coming up at the Tibetan Cultural Center. This weekend was the Dalai Lama's 72nd birthday so there were tons of people around. I needed some water badly, (my bottle had run out before the giant hill) so I went inside and everyone was really nice and I got some nice cold water for the rest of the trip. Total mileage at this point was about 22 miles.
Since there were so many people there, the group wanted to get going. I had had almost no rest since the giant hill too, since I was about getting water while they were all recuperating. I was exhausted. I don't know if it was just me, but it seemed like every time we turned a corner after this point, there was a long hill to go up. After we turned into a residential neighborhood, I (thankfully) knew where I was again. And there was also another hill to go up. My legs said no and I had to stop. One of the ride leaders circled back and I told him that I knew where I was, so he could continue with the rest of the group and I would be fine by myself. I just had to rest for like 10-15 minutes.
After literally laying down in someone's front lawn under a big tree for about 15 minutes I got up. Well, I stumbled up. My legs decided they didn't want to do anything else today. I then made the horrible realization that I would not be able to make it home. After getting up enough courage, I went to houses to start asking for a ride. I was only about 3 1/2 miles from my house, so I figured it wouldn't have been much of a problem. That was a bad assumption. The first two houses didn't answer their doors, while both of them had garages wide open and at the second house I could see people in the living room. As I was about to head to the third house, the owner's of the first house I had visited left and drove right by me without making any eye contact. The third house I went to was having a party, or some sort of get together. I asked the lady who answered the door (!) for a lift, and she hesitated for a second and then said, "Why don't you go ask them?" She pointed to her neighbors across the street who were just about to leave. As soon as the last word was out of her mouth, she slammed the door shut. Thankfully, the people that this "nice" woman had directed me to were very friendly and decided to give me a ride home. The lady who drove me home was from Nigeria and I guess where she grew up she was always taught to help other people because no one can do everything by themselves. This lady is my new hero. I gave her $5, since it's all I had on me and she dropped me off about 1/2 mile from my door. The ride from there was cake. It was only 1/2 mile and I had been off my bike for close to 1/2 an hour at this point. Then, about 30 feet from my door, my front tire slips off the sidewalk and I had to perform a quick dismount. Thankfully I stayed on my feet and the bike wasn't damaged except for a couple scratches. At this point, this was salt on the wound. After that I finally got to walk in my front door. It was 4:45. I had left the house around 1:00. After having a nice tall glass of water, I stretched out on the couch and slept for 2 1/2 hours.
It has been quite a day, but I now have a new max distance: 23.28 miles. I think that I'll stay away from these "Nice N' Easy" rides for a while though. Up until my disgraceful end, I was enjoying myself. I think after all this I decided that group rides are fun, primarily because you get to see new sights and also meet new people. I just wish they had kept the ride to nice and easy, not nice and easy and horribly long.