Do any of the So Cal forumites ride with (or have ridden with) these groups? I'm thinking that, for the sake of sanity, scheduling, and motivation, I want to work up to a routine weekly ride that is both challenging, rewarding, and fun. "Training without purpose" is one of the biggest de-motivators for me.
I was out last Saturday, and not-so-subtly passed by the Swami's 'A' group (Hey, I was 30 miles in, and they were about 8). I have no idea if I could have hung with them if we'd started together. But I'd finished my 52 mile route in just over 3 hours (17 mph average) that covered much the same track as the Swami's ride. (Del Dios, RSF, Elfin Forest, Harmony Grove)
The fact is that I nearly always ride alone and don't really have a barometer as to my fitness or speed. I'm a bit intimidated to just 'audit' a group without knowing where I might stand. Are there any 'rules of thumb' ie: be comfortable with 40 miles in 2 hours on varied terrain? Climb a 10% grade at 13 mph without breaking a sweat?
Also, Ranchos starts about 5 miles from my house, so would be really convenient for me. Their rides are different every week, which is also nice.