Friday Group Ride #427

Friday Group Ride #427

From the back, I could see it all, young men surging and dropping back on the narrow trail, bristling with energy and enthusiasm, like a litter of puppies roiling in one mass. I sat on my saddle and turned my pedals and just kept them in sight. I’m too tired for that nonsense most days.

Dutifully, they attacked the climbs. At obstacles, they’d follow each other too closely and one dab would become five, all of them in line, one-by-one walking through rock gardens and over logs. I rolled up on each one moments later, picked my line, made some and missed others.

The story is too neat though if I claim to be the wise older head doing everything the right way. That’s just not true. Somewhere in the back of my mind I was certainly interested in keeping up, wondering if they were thinking to go easy on me. My ego was present, if subdued. I did my part to keep the group moving together.

It struck me about an hour in that I’m not in the younger half of most groups anymore. At 46, I’m neither young nor old, but a certain kind of riding is mostly behind me now, by temperament if not ability. I’m a rambler now, not a thrasher. Most days anyway.

This week’s Group Ride asks, where are you in the pack? Younger? Older? Or do you eschew the pack altogether? I joke with my friends that the number of people I’m willing to ride with simultaneously drops by one every year and currently stands at two. Some days, though, I make exceptions.

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15 comments

  1. KG

    41 & crit racing all season.
    I’m in the older half of most group rides, but certainly not the oldest. We have a 60+ guy that can drop the field (he still wins 40+ crits & road races).
    I’m willing to ride with anyone, but on days I need to go hard, I prefer to be with a group that needs the same. Setting expectations and sticking to them makes for the most fun. Good communication about expectations is key to maximum fun.

  2. Michigan Tim

    At 53, Im certainly one of the older ones but rarely the oldest. I still like to keep the pace up, but a bad left knee keeps me from doing too much over 85% to 90% max effort for any length of time. So I pace myself. Between long work hours and a moderate to long commute and other commitments, I rarely do group rides anymore – they’re just too time consuming, although I do seek them out several times a year. Nope, most of my rides are after work from home, 20 miilers with about 1000 ft of climbing, mix of dirt roads and singletrack :. therapy that nothing can match.

  3. Lucien Walsh

    48 here. For a while my pack was older than me, until the point it became significantly slower than me. That was about 3 years ago. On top of that, the pressures of work and the desire to be present for my kids meant that I no longer had the luxury of being gone for hours on the weekend. So now it’s just me, the rambler, paying less attention to Strava than before, grateful for the time I get on the bike, doubly so if my wife can join me. I still derive deep pleasure from a nice bike, and that goes hand in hand with deeply appreciating the ride itself. The one enhances the other.

    I’ll still attack if I see another rider ahead, if for no other reason that it gives me motivation to bury myself a little. But it’s all friendly. Bought my first allroad bike this season so I am looking forward to cool weather rambles and trying to find joy in the local rail-trail (which I don’t enjoy much on a MTB)

  4. Larry Brooks

    At 68, I’m fairly ancient in athlete years. Usually the oldest by a fair margin in any group riding – I still enjoy mixing it up during the first hour or so when the legs are fresh. The upside is no one seems to mind if I suck wheels on the back half. I get props especially from the middle aged riders simply for surviving and continuing to show up. I think they see in me hope for a future athleticism for themselves.

  5. Dave

    I’m 46 and in the middle most of the time in group rides and races. Occasionally everything comes together and I can stay at the sharp end of the field.

    I mostly train alone now because it’s hard to find people interested in what I like to do, namely long rides that involve getting lost and finding new routes.

    I’ll soon be moving to Granada Spain , where I’ve lived previously and where the riding scene is exponentially bigger and more diverse. You show up for group rides with 100 plus people and you’ll always find a group to fit in with. Want to climb 45k to Picos Veleta? There is a group for that. Want to try to hang with the pros and neo pros? You can try and hang.

    I can’t wait to return because I know I’ll get back in really great shape.

  6. Resty

    At 66, hard to find someone whose fitness level matches mine. Bike-walker. Prefer a companion or two and a more relaxed ride than aggressive.

  7. GGG

    At 57, I am in the cycling DMZ – too slow to hang with the fast guys and faster than the ice cream social riders. I don’t care though. Still loving riding the desert mountains on a mountain bike, my fat bike in the winter and my road bike in the summer. I appreciate any time on the bike.

    I will do group rides on occasion. I have no expectations for a group ride other than not crash as a result of someone’s carelessness.

  8. Neil Winkelmann

    At 57, I’m close to the oldest in our group. My place seems to be that of “the slowest guy in the group that chooses the hardest options”. In the larger group, I’m closer to the front, but once the smaller group self-slects for the extra climb/distance, I’ll be towards the back of that group. I love the work.

  9. Ethan

    28, I am consistently the youngest by 20 years in the group rides I partake in. The group I ride with is mostly made up of people racing masters. I can only hope I am in as great of shap as the guys I ride with when I am 50.

  10. Thomas Smolen

    I’m 53 and I’ve not ridden a group ride in years because I’m spending the time with my family. My choice. When I was a member of the group, I was middle to younger part of the age range. Though, I was aggressive, I was never fast. Nowadays, I prefer to commute so, i’m super conservative, head-on-a-swivel, careful. After all, cars hurt you when they hit you.

    If I were to rejoin the group ride, I’d be pushing again, though. That’s why I always liekd the group.

  11. Dizzy

    For all of those expressing commitment to career and family that precludes the group ride, blessings on you. For years I enabled myself to ignore my lonely steed hanging in the garage. But time does move on. The daughter reached her mid-teens and challenged me to a MS150. I brushed off the cobwebs and I was riding again; not a lot, but some. Then the daughter went to college, permanently moved away, and I was riding more. At 63, my career of caring for humanity became a career that preferred the bottom line and I just couldn’t stand it anymore. So now time was on my side.

    I’ve had the best cycling year of my life; longer, stronger, faster. I can hang onto the “A-group” or lead the “B-group”. No matter the size of your pack or your place in it, the group is calling. You just have to get there. D

  12. Parker English

    I usually ride alone except on bike-packing tours, and have then shared with a partner on roughly half by number and a quarter by miles ridden. Solo allows exactly the right pace and rest stops. And adequate stamina to enjoy the good cheer and friendships on occasional group rides. On most tho not all of which I’m now, at 76, in the older as well as the middle-to-faster sub-groups.

    I’m like Lucien Walsh in sometimes attacking riders in front of me, or passing me, just to bury myself a little — with mixed results.

    Unlike Dave, I don’t like getting lost . . . but do so too regularly. Garmin and Ride with GPS help, of course, but I’m not very adept with either. So, try not to stray too far from familiar routes except when traveling away from home.

    I like being comfortable as well as challenged on a bike, as seems true of everyone who’s commented in this thread. Something’s unique to biking in that regard, tho it’s hard to define. Nice that Robot’s given us a chance to reflect on the fact.

  13. keith

    I’m 67 (as of TODAY Oct 24th), I like riding in a very small group. Or, I ride by myself.
    I’m pretty much near the front of my group rides, but they are mostly a C+/B group rides. I belong to 6 bike clubs.
    I have a Trek Madone, Garmin 1000, and use Ridewith GPS.
    Been cycling for over 30 years.

  14. Pat O'Brien

    Sixty nine trips around the sun for me. I usually ride alone, or with some tandem riding friends. My standard reply to “on your left” is “almost everybody is on my left!” When someone says that I ride really well for someone my age. I grin and give them my Yoda riff. “Ride this well when 69 years old you be.” My interest in data, however, has waned to the point where I am seriously considering taking the computers off the bikes. I am started to treat rides like zen therapy. It is hard to find companions that ride that way. They are normally focused on distances, destinations, and average speeds. I would like to find a friendly group of folks to ride with for overnight trips by bike.

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