I know you aren't supposed to talk about your girlfriend in front of your wife, but there is another cycling forum I post at. Some members there have been putting together a series of greenway rides every Wednesday night. I've never attended but I have a greenway bike so I wanted to try it for a while. Yesterday one member posted that he was nursing an ankle injury so he would be riding slower than usual. Excellent I thought, I always ride by myself but this is my chance to enjoy the company of others while on two wheels. I've never met any of these forum people in real life but they posted it would be a "relaxed pace" ride so I went.
I showed up at the starting point and started unloading my bike. There were 5 or 6 other people there decked out in full thermal gear unloading bikes that cost twice but weighed half of what mine did. No one even looked up when I pulled in so to make sure I was in the correct place I pedaled over and asked one of the guys if this was the ride I was looking for. He said it was but immediately went back to whatever he was doing in the back of his SUV. I just kind of stood there awkwardly as the other people talked got their bikes and gear together. No one really ever introduced themselves or even troubled themselves to say hello to me. I just stood around, awkwardly, in the cold, hoping that maybe once we started riding it would get better.
Just before we pulled out of the parking lot one guy pedaled over and informed me that this was a "loveless ride" and that if i couldn't keep up I'd be dropped. Fair enough I thought to myself, as long as the pace is "relaxed" I'll be fine. We rolled out of the parking lot and I positioned myself at the back of the pack, we started at about 12-15mph but within a half mile the pace was increasing to the high teens/low 20's. Within the next mile I'd fallen back out of sight of the other riders. I considered just cutting my losses and riding back to the car but instead I pedaled my arse off and caught back up to them in about another mile down the trail. As soon as I was behind the group again they sped up and took off. So again I was left to ride alone, in the dark, w/ temps in the low teens. I tried to rally again and catch the group but my right calf began cramping causing an unscheduled and not-so-graceful dismount and my toes had stabbing pains from the cold (i don't have shoe covers). I walked the cramp off and kept riding but at my own, much slower pace. I rode on alone for about 4 or 5 more miles but my leg still hurt and it was obvious that the group was gone. As I turned around to pedal back to my car, my left foot began to cramp. I just wanted to be back at the car so I rode on in spite of the cramp and eventually my foot went completely numb except for a stabbing pain from the cold in a few of my toes. It was very dark on the greenway and my dynamo and aux lights did little to give me confidence at any speed. I rode the long way back to the car to avoid some very slick muddy patches I had crossed early in the ride. I loaded up my bike and went home, cold, tired, sore, and very humble. My toes are a little frostbitten but i think they'll recover.
My ego on the other hand, is irreparably damaged.
A list of last nights Fail broken down by responsible party:
trying to ride with people who are much faster than I am
bringing a knife to a gun fight (my bike vs. the bikes of others in attendance)
thinking it was a good idea to go riding with a group of strangers, in the dark, when it is 20something degrees out.
lack of shoe covers [MegaFail]
Forum Members Fail:
misrepresenting the ride as being "relaxed pace"
going that extra mile to make sure it is awkward and unwelcoming for the new guy (not a single "hey glad you could make it" or "Hi, I'm So-and-so")
Act of God Fail:
total darkness in the woods before 7PM
temps in the low teens w/ bicycle induced wind chill