I had a feeling that the ride was going to be over my head — but I was sold on the idea of a beautiful day of riding up in Columbia County with 30-40 miles of dirt roads. DIRT ROADS people! My kind of riding.
The fact that the ride was 9K feet of climbing over 90 miles did strike some fear in me, but not enough to turn me off from the ride. I figure, I didn’t get these big calves and thighs from sitting on the couch – I know how to climb. I can climb uphill for days [the fact that I have not done that on a bike seems unimportant to me]. I can suffer and push through.
What did scare me was that the other 20 or so people who signed up for the ride were all on racing teams. I had images of matching-spandex-clad skinny men with carbon bikes.
Which, was exactly who they were…..
I knew as soon as I pulled out my bike from the car (well, I actually knew shortly into my carpool from the conversation in the car which I had very little to contribute) that this was not the ride for me – and I shoulda trusted my gut. I was out-leagued. No mismatched outdoor-turned-biking gear, no heavy steel bikes, no bmx-flat pedals.
But, the super friendly Joe of Pedaling in Place – who I had recently connected with – and does super awesome bikepacking adventures that I envy and hope to do some day — had told me about the ride and came over to chat before we started. We talked adventures and South America and India — and it was all pretty awesome.
Eventually, the group started the ride and while we started out at a good pace, I felt pretty good about it… Joe and I chatted, albeit near the back of the group, but all was fine.
Until we got to the first steep hill.
And it was done.
I immediately dropped behind. And by the time I got to the top of the hill – the group was gone. Gone. No where in sight.
By my super powers of deduction and sense of direction (no joke, I do have a really good sense of direction) – I was able to figure out the path they went for some ways (after some wrong turns). On my way up a beautiful dirt road, Joe appeared – having kindly come back to check on me. After convincing him that he should ride with the group and that I would be fine, he took off and I spent the day exploring.
The fall colors were magnificent.
I rode past a beautiful lake.
I got some great views of the Catskills.
I came across a Zen center and sat for a moment in the sun.
I passed some lovely typically new-england-country churches.
I pedaled some beautiful country roads.
I saw some more beautiful foliage in farm country.
I found a four-wheeler course with banks and berms and flat-tops and went for a couple of laps – giggling to myself.
I stopped and sat in the sun for a bit.
Though it was certainly humbling to get dropped so quickly (good reminder that I am not in quite the shape that I think I am….) — it was a nice day for a solo ride in the country.