Off the Back

Last Saturday morning, I took a deep breath and went out on my first group ride, out of Marty’s in Morristown.

When it comes to training, I’ve always been kind of a loner.  Not by choice.  For some reason, I didn’t have many training partners during the years I went out the door at 5 A.M.  These days, everyone’s got a different set of obligations; it ain’t easy to coordinate a Saturday or Sunday adventure.

It was with some trepidation that I showed up at Marty’s.  I’ve never ridden with more than two other guys, and I still count myself a runner who’s trying to get the most out of cycling.  At Marty’s, there were plenty of uber-fit guys kitted out in club colors, and enough carbon fiber to open a factory.

We set out down Speedwell and around the green.   Even at the back, riding with 25 other guys was a thrill.  We made most of the lights around the green and worked our way to to Harding Township and Chatham Township.  For all the times I’ve been buzzed by motorists, the times people have played chicken with me, the time some yuppie asshole forced me off the road because he wanted to ask me directions, it was awesome to be in a gang, owning an entire lane.

As a couple of guys fell off the pace, I was pleased to stick with the front group.  I even had the time to chat.  About 16 miles in, right when I was telling Ravi “…I still have to improve my riding…” someone up front put the hammer down.  The pack accelerated, and I was spat off the back in nothing flat.

The roads in that part of Morris County roll and undulate.  Not a lot of huge hills.  I dug deep, but I didn’t close the gap.  Riding with another backmarker on a Van Dessel ‘cross bike, we made it to the Swiss Chalet as the strongmen were finishing their first cup of coffee.  The coffee was good; I can’t comment on the baked goods.  But  with three decent coffee shops (Starbucks excluded), Morristown is risk of a hipster invasion.

For the ride, I averaged 19 mph.  Without a draft, I wouldn’t have gone that fast; nor in hilly country.  But I learned some stuff and met some good people.  Marty’s has several group rides throughout the week during the summer.  From the link above, they have a page detailing their group rides.  Check it out.