Today was my first organized ride, thanks to those of you who suggested the 39 mile distance in one of my other threads, It was a good choice.
Woke up at 4:30 AM, got my stuff together and got in the car. The ride to Owego, NY from state college was a decent 3 hour drive, with a lot of back country roads. I arrived at around 8:00 and signed in, received my cue sheet, tee shirt, and promotional material about tourism in the area. It was about 50 degrees, and to be honest I was cold. After changing into my bike shorts and tee shirt (no jersey till I break 200 pounds) and ate some of the free breakfast included with my registration. Today was day two of the event, most people there today had rode yesterday. The Sunday Metric left the Village of Owego at around 8:30, while I got the bike off the car and started getting ready for the ride. Of the 14 people riding the 39 mile loop, only 2 had checked in at the official start time. The other cyclist was Ben, who introduced himself to me when he overheard we were riding the same route. After a little more waiting for no-one, we grabbed some water bottles, bananas, chewy bars, and crackers and took off.
Ben, who appeared to be around 60 years old, warned me from the beginning that he didn't set any land speed records, and that he had ridden the 42 mile loop yesterday, and had to walk some of the hills. He was riding a trek 7.3 FX, decked out with fenders, rack, bell, and all, with all terrain tires instead of road. When I told him that I didn't spend money or gas to ride by myself, and that I'd rather take 4 hours to do the ride then to finish by myself in 2, he smiled and told me he wouldn't mind a fellow cyclist either. We began our trip out of town, with light traffic thanks to it being Sunday. The initial roads were state routes with plenty of broken glass and potholes.
Soon we took our first detour off the busy highway, climbing up a nice healthy hill. Ben was spinning away in low gear, with myself in tow. Eventually we worked out a system where the hills were every man for himself, regroup at the top. Every time we got to the top of a hill, he was smiling and yelling at me for being a young wipper snapper, but away we went. I actually ENJOYED the 15 mph pace. After the first 2 mile climb, the next road was moderate rollers for two miles, and then back on the highway. Those off highway roads had some of the nicest road surface for farm country I have ever ridden. And it was nice and flat, something I haven't had all summer. Right before the first big left in the square shape of the route, someone finally caught us. Some little guy on a carbon specialized zipped past. Ben told me that if I wanted to catch up to him, I could, but I could tell he was enjoying having the safety and conversation I provided, and I enjoyed his pace, so I stuck with him. The new rider had stopped at the next turn in the road at a gas station for supplies, so we passed him and rode the next section, a gradual uphill, for a while until he finally passed us again. At this point were about halfway.
After being passed by Speed Racer the second time, we turned onto the next road, the longest stretch on a single road our entire trip, and got some food from our stores. Ben and I shared conversation about who we were, how long we'd been riding, etc. When we took off again, it was another decent uphill, then the best stretch of the entire trek. Fun downhills, followed by uphills that your momentum got you over with minimal effort, beautiful farm country, views of the valley below, and wildlife galore (including a doe and fawn who ran across the road only a few yards ahead of the two of us.) At the bottom of this stretch we reached a minor state route that road back into town. Ben said he was going to take a break again, but that I should go ahead for the last 4 miles, as long as I promised to wait for him at the finish. I took off for the last 4 miles, getting a workout in, pushing myself to make up for the easy pace I had taken. Averaging over 20 mph over these last 4 miles of rolling hills, I rolled in to the start/end point and dismounted.
We all reported back in after our rides, and then got a lunch of subs and plenty of drinks and snacks. I changed my shirt and sat down and socialized, and met the Speed Racer off the bike. About 15 minutes later, maybe a little more Ben rolled in, put his bike on his car and sat and talked some more. It turns out he's 80, and still loves riding. Four years ago he completed TOSRV, a 210 mile two day bike tour in Ohio. The man is an animal. After a bit more conversation I packed up the car and rode a much simpler drive back, thanks to some helpful people.
All in all it was a great day. For 15 bucks I got 2 meals, a tee shirt, a water bottle, snacks for on the road, and an organized ride, even if it was only the two of us. I even got interviewed by the local news, and made it on tv! Heres the news story for the event: http://www.wbng.com/news/local/A-Sce...100227559.html . I'm the one with the blue shirt from troy. I can't wait for my half century on the 21st in Bennington Vermont, and then I'm planning on doing the Metric Century Great River Ride in Western Mass in October. I love cycling.