I haven't done the Farmers Market ride in, like, forever. It's the same route, week after freakin' week, and after you ride it for the millionth time in a season monotony starts to set in.
But it's a good benchmark for fitness, so I joined tonight's ride to see how I'm doing.
First, it wasn't a good night for benchmarking. The wind was blowing something fierce, so it made riding hard a challenge.
Still, I'm not at my best. For example, when I'm in decent shape I'll climb the hill on Old Salem Road, before the turn onto Teague Rd, at 25+. Tonight, I was struggling to climb much slower than that.
But hey, it's early in the season, I have only 350 miles in, and we still managed to average 17 mph over the 25 or so miles. Not bad for an early season, wind-whipped ride.
Last night's Roaming Ride was the first of the season, and a chance to get outside, stretch my legs, climb some hills, and watch some amusing course navigation.
Roaming is what the ride's all about, so I try to pick roads that are less traveled and familiar. In the past I've tried the make-the-route-up-as-we-go routine, but that's been less than ideal. So I'm back to handing out cue sheets, which in the case of last night's ride led to two moments of confusion:
The first wasn't my fault. Riverdale Road (the correct turn) isn't the same as River Road (where the pack attempted to turn, and got snarled in traffic).
The second was Google's fault. Google Maps show that Muddy Creek Road north of Harlow is Groometown Road, and that's what I listed on the cue sheet. However, the street sign says Muddy Creek. In this case, we had a conflict between those who stuck to the cue sheet (and continued straight) and those who used local knowledge to override the sheet (and, correctly, turned left).
But having to navigate and living with the possibility of getting lost are integral parts of the Roaming Ride. Want to mindlessly follow the same route week after week? This isn't for you. Like they say in the software biz, this isn't a bug. It's a feature.
Hills? A feature.
More hills? Even better.
The Roaming Ride continues next Thursday, unless it's raining. Look for details on the calendar at GSOVelo.com.