On the way down Dave coached me how to draft behind him to take advantage of the improved aerodynamics. On a couple of steep climbs he also demonstrated how to zig and zag across the grade to make it up a particularly steep pitch. We got slightly turned around following the cue sheet but I had printed a few sections of the planned route from google maps and we were able to sort it out with only a few bonus miles. The timing was perfect, we pulled in to North Beach and looked right to see a huge mob of riders approaching with blinking lights and yellow / blue jerseys.
At the time, I'd only been riding regularly for a couple of months. My longest ride prior to that point was 40 miles. I was riding my Jamis hybrid with fat tires purchased to help loose weight. This ride would be my first introduction to the Serverna Park Peloton. I'd seen them on the trail back home and knew a few members from church or other community groups, but I'd never ridden with them or any other bike club. We enjoyed some great treats and coffee at Sweet Sue's and the group was friendly, taking great interest in my recent efforts to get back in to shape on a bicycle. They encouraged me to take up position in the middle of the peloton as we rolled out though my bike was not built for such speed and frankly neither was the rider. I'd only drafted another rider for the first time an hour earlier on the way to North Beach. Now I was racing at 30 mph down some very steep rollers in close quarters with 20 plus riders. (ok maybe some of you would rather not know that).
Dave and I would hang with the group for about 10 or 12 miles before I had to back off of the pace. We were heading to a different finish anyway so I thanked them for the hospitality and we assured them they need not worry about "dropping" us as Dave and I would stick together back to Southern High. As we approached the school my bike computer showed 46 miles and I told Dave I wanted to go for 50 so we added another loop and rounded it up to 50 and a small fraction. I was hooked.
I learned later that this was also a memorial ride to a member who suffered a fatal heart attack on the bike while riding the same route. At the same time they remembered an old friend and welcomed a new one.
This Labor Day I got to celebrate my anniversary with the SPP on the same ride. I joined them from Davidsonville this time, not worried about how far I could ride but to keep on schedule for a football game later in the day. Between the Severna Park starters on the long route and the Davidsonville starters on the shorter option, we had 33 riders including two tandems. I enjoyed the same friendly group, the thrill of riding with a large peloton at a crisp pace, and this time, the confidence that I could hang with the group pace all the way to the finish.
Since I started riding last year I've slimmed down, gotten stronger, faster and a lot smarter on the bike. I was introduced to the sport of Randonneuring and learned that I still don't know what my real limits are. Most importantly, I've made a lot of new friends and had a great time. Many thanks to all of you. I'm looking forward to another great year. See you on the roads.
Sweet Sue's 2009 - I'm in the bright yellow T-shirt back row
Sweet Sue's 2010 - I'm third from the right back row