Sunday, July 09, 2006

Tour de Point

Date: July 9
Mileage: 66.2
July mileage: 256.6
Temperature upon departure: 60

Today I latched onto the Sunday ride of local road cycling club - the "Homer Cosmic Hams." With about nine or ten regular members, they comprise the only club in town - although that's one more club than I thought there was.

Not that I'm all that familiar with club riding, but this group seemed to have a particular tint of good ol' Alaskana. For one, half of the "road" ride was on a pockmarked stretch of gravel that I had previously only dared to ride on my mountain bike. (I rode my road bike today, because I figured these guys knew what they were talking about. My lower arms are still tingling.) For two, most of the members showed up on all manner of Frankenbikes - an old Cannondale mountain bike outfitted with slicks and a strange single front shock, a 1970s green Fuji with a much newer red front fork, etc. And three, after finally getting into a groove in our paceline on the descent into Anchor Point, the guy in front yelled "Espresso stop, half mile!" and everyone fanned out into a breakaway sprint that I haven't seen since the last time I snuck a peak at OLN highlights.

But these guys and one woman - three in or around retirement age - sure could haul. Not that they even cared. Besides the coffee break, there were three or four other stops at the top of hills while we waited for the rear to catch up. I was pulling when we reached the end of the loop and no one even raced in front of me. There never seemed to be even a hint of competition, despite the fact that the group is currently training for the Ride for Life and the MS 150.

But the best parts of riding with this club:
1. Before we left, they made clear that under no circumstances would I be left behind if I didn't keep up.
2. They didn't act surprised when I actually did keep up.
3. They were very tolerant of my total lack of paceline experience, even as I coasted as many as two bike lenghts behind the person in front of me (I know ... the nerve!)
4. The chided me for the state of my helmet, which means
a. They care; and
b. They know what they're talking about.

We rode 28 miles together and it took a nearly 2 1/2 hours. But my bike computer registered an average moving speed of 18 mph, and that's factoring in the gravel and the huge hill climb. These are cyclists who know how to enjoy the ride.

I thought my reputation as a local journalist and somewhat notorious winter cyclist would precede me, but sadly, no one had ever heard of me and most were surprised to learn my true mission - which was to write an article about the local bike club. Interestingly enough, most of them had heard of Geoff, thanks to this article, and his penchant for standing out as the only classic skier during this past winter's very popular nordic ski races.

"Oh, you're that running guy's girlfriend."

Sigh.

So if I ever meet up with these guys again, I'm gonna rock that paceline.