They're a racing development club, which means they attract a lot of young males with shaved legs and very, very expensive bikes. But even the 'older' guys in the group like to ride fast.
And then there are the women in the club. Oh wait, that would be me.
When I joined SFW 5 years ago, I was intimidated. Just showing up the first time took a lot of courage on my part. When the pack of 20+ riders rolled out of the parking lot, I hung with them for about 15 minutes before falling off the face of the earth.
I vowed to come back next week and hang on longer.
The next week, the pack turned up Everett Rd., and pushed the pace to 18 mph all the way up. I caught them at the top (OK, they stopped to regroup). Still gasping for air, I took off with them toward Hinckley and beyond. They rode like they were being chased by zombies. I watched them go.
I vowed to return next week and hang on longer. And to bring a map.
But I DO like riding with the guys, and here's why:
- SPEED. We're riding on Riverview in a double paceline, and I look down at my computer and it says 28 mph. And I'm not pedaling.
- SKILLS. I've learned how to ride in a pack, avoid road obstructions, and corner at high speed. I've learned to anticipate the sprint and try to respond to it. I've learned that when I think I'm ready to give up, I can go longer - and harder. I've learned to hang on.
- MOTIVATION. There's nothing like being 20 miles from nowhere, pushing hard to keep up with the group because if I get dropped I've got no idea where I am or how to get back. (Oh yes - necessity is a mother...)
- NEW ROUTES. I get to ride to places I wouldn't have known about otherwise. And still be back before dark.
- NO WAITING. At least, I'm not waiting for anybody. I can't say the same for the guys...
- POWER. Taking a pull at the front - even if it's short - is an endorphin rush.
- CONFIDENCE. The fact that these guys don't leave me in the dust is kinda nice.
- PERSEVERANCE. I've had to learn to set aside some inhibitions, insecurities, and indecision - as well as some delusions about my own abilities.
- QUADRICEPS. Riding with the guys requires that I push my own physical limits, every time.
- TESTOSTERONE. Do I mind being the lone female rider in a group of guys? What do you think?
Gals - if you're looking to shake up your riding routine, come on out for a club ride with SFW! You won't be disappointed.
Selene Yeager, Bicycling mag's 'Fit Chick', has lots to say about this topic, too (click here).