An old friend told me about a really easy-going Monday night weekly ride here in KC, so I decided to give it a shot. I don't own a road bike or any fancy riding gear but I showed up on my hybrid, wearing jeans and my crossing-guard reflective vest (my typical commuter get-up) and had a ball. I was half-expecting a few jeers, but everyone seemed really nice.
I'd say our average speed was somewhere in the 13-15 MPH range, and we put maybe 12 miles on, just tooling around suburbia. As we rode past one driveway, a guy was just getting out of his car and hollared a few choice words at us. We must have slowed him down somewhere along the line. We just kept moseying on.
It seemed like close to half the guys on the ride were cyclocrossers, so I was expecting it to be a little faster pace than it was. I'm not sure if they were just going slow for the newbie or what. As time allows, I'm looking forward to participating in this ride more often.
The cyclocross riders may well have been using this ride as a recovery ride. A recovery ride is where you don't raise your heartrate out of the comfort zone and you are riding to keep the muscles loose and ready to go.
It can be a lot of fun to ride in a group and motivating to see men and women in their 50's, 60's, and 70's not only riding but riding well enough to leave you behind.
Be sure to ask lots of questions about group etiquette and what is expected behavior. I didn't go on a group ride for a long time because I was afraid I'd cause a crash or something.
You will enjoy the rides more if you wear proper cycling clothes. Jeans are the worst things to wear as they bind in the crotch and knees and don't wick moisture. Cotton is another no-no fabric. If you can't bring yourself to wear spandex shorts, check out some mountain bike shorts, aka baggies. Now that you've gotten the bug, you'll naturally want to ride longer and harder rides and that's when the cycling clothes will really, really be a blessing.
The name of the ride is "Monday night Recovery Ride" - so yes, that's precisely what it was. I figured with a name like that it was kind of a "cool down after a weekend of hammering" deal. I asked plenty of questions and made it known that it was my first group ride. Mark, the guy who runs localcycling.com is the guy who organizes this ride. He helped me out a lot by explaining how the group dynamics work, how to signal upcoming cars, turns, stops, and when to drop from staggered to single file, etc.
Also, having and experienced friend there with me helped quite a bit. It probably helped hasten my rapport in the group, and advice he offered while we socialized and caught up was good as well. I hadn't actually seen Tim face to face in about two years, but we keep in contact via e-mail and the like. We used to drive the same car and we'd hang out with some other Focus owners every week to talk about car stuff. When he sold his and stopped hanging out with us, he kind of lost touch with the pack. Now that we have cycling in common, too, I'll probably see him a lot more.
I'll eventually pick up a full kit, but I've put on a lot of miles in nothing but jeans or dickies work pants (and this time of year, an occasional athletic base layer beneath them) without any problems. Once the weather gets (and stays) nice enough to wear spandex shorts, I will probably shell out for a few pair and some jerseys.
I've always been a utilitarian kind of guy. If what I have is working for the task at hand, I'm not very likely to spend extra cash on something that does the task better, unless I really need it. The time will come, but the time isn't now.
When the time is right, check out Performancebike.com for inexpensive cycling stuff. Or for cold weather stuff that's inexpensive, polypropylene sweat pants from a sporting goods place.
Sounds like you got a great group to start riding with. I've gone on rides where the pace got up over my abilities and I was left behind so I try to find out what the pace of the ride will really be, sometimes it's quite different from the advertised pace.
Hey axOn, I'm usually in the tandem forum (I ride a 3 person tandem with my wife and daughter) so I didn't see your post. I live in Independence and often ride from the Buffalo Wild Wings near the Independence center. Theres a group that meets ever T, Th. The pace is great. There are a few racers, or those who could be but don't have the time and money, there are a few "just out for fun," and there are a few "trying to lose weight," etc. The fastest ones take off on the inclines but then usually wait at certain spots. I've ridden many rides in the KC area and all have been very friendly no matter what a person's pace, figure, bike, clothes, etc.
When I'm on the tandem, I'm always a little behind the fast group, but when on my fixed gear single bike, I'm right in with the fast group.
Oh, I almost forgot to mention, on all the rides that are not overly competitive, there tends to be plenty of talking back and forth, lots of comradery. I think that's part of why I like riding.
Maybe I'll see you out there sometime. As far as I know, there is only one other 3 person tandem in the KC area.
Given the fact that I'm a commuter, I am pretty adament about staying within cycling distance to home. I live out in Olathe, so Independence is pretty much out of the question as I don't have a car to get back home on my commute days. I did the same group ride again last week and plan on partaking tomorrow as well. Last week, I rode a total of 11 miles on the ride, and 15 miles between getting to work and then getting to where my wife works from the group ride, so about 26 miles total for the day. This ride is at the KC Trek Store on SM Parkway in Merriam since you're in the area... kinda.
It was a blast finding a way to get around on the side streets. I logged 141 miles in Jan, 150 in Feb. I can tell I'll be packing them on in March thanks to an extra 45 miles or so of recreational spinning just from this group ride.