As background, all of the longer group rides I've done this year have been organized rides with the full support-rest stops etc. These are typical kinds of rides where someone is putting on a ride to raise some money for a charitable organization, their local bike club, etc. While not races-although some of the events record your times-instinctively you seem to want to get to the finish as quickly as you can. Many of you have ridden in these types of events in areas where you live.
Most of these types of events in this area stopped in the October timeframe due to the colder temperatures my miles have tapered off a bit as well.
A bike club near me is putting on 100 mile rides with no support each Saturday in December and I rode in the one this morning and really enjoyed it. It was 33 degrees at the start, the temps got up as high as 48 and by the time we returned it was raining/sleeting.
The purpose of the rides is to simply get in some base miles at a comfortable pace. While we had 25 cyclists with varying degrees of abilities, the group stayed together for just about the entire ride. It was really neat to just spin along and meet and talk to the other folks-not to mention riding in the pack behind wheels.
The "feature" of the ride is a country store at about the 65 mile mark that has a small kitchen/eating area and serves really, really good country cooking. Their special is a meat and 2 vegetables, roll and drink. Imagine 25 cyclists pulling in and filling up on Ribs, Country Style Steak, Roast beef, Fried Chicken plus vegetables and even blackberry cobbler!! My choice-Country Style Steak, mashed potatoes w/gravy and lima beans. It's not exactly what you'd call cycling food but it was incredibly delicious!!
Interestingly, while going through one small town we wound up on a road where they were running a 5k so we had to troll along behind a police car for a bit. Then when we returned to town at the finish there was a parade on the street where we had parked so we had to navigate through that.
Anyway, it was just a really neat experience-essentially a splendid social event with 5-6 hours of exercise-and another good reminder of how much fun it is to get out and ride with others in a different venue.
Tonight I'm headed to a party and will stock up on calories to replenish those I burned today!! No guilt here!