Tonight, I went over to a local park to meet up with BUTTICE, an Ames-based RAGBRAI team. They have wednesday night rides open to all and I had wanted to go in the past, but was a bit intimidated as I feared getting dropped, ignored, etc. I'm feeling strong and trained up right now, so I figured I'd give it a shot.
It was fun! I think they weren't too sure about the big guy on the bent when I rode up, but once we got on the road and I started passing the group, I gained a bit of cred. It is not a race, but I felt that I had to prove that I could keep up so...I took off and passed most of the group and stayed ahead for the rest of the 21 mile ride. One guy said "You're a pretty strong rider." I found myself looking for who he was talking to.
It ended at a local bar where we had a few drinks and I got to know the members. Very friendly people who really opened up! In the end, I don't think showing off was necessary, but it sure makes me feel good to know that I have achieved the ability to keep up with a group of good riders.
I wish I hadn't waited so long to join their rides. Their attitude was good, just a bit skeptical at first. Plus, I was an outsider.
The night total was a 31 mile ride (5 to the starting point, 5 from the bar to my car, and 21 for the main ride.) Averaged 16.5 mph.