This weekend was long. It was a good kind of long in the sense that all four days were enjoyable, useful, fun, and functional. Tim had three of the days off, and though we didn't go see a movie as originally thought, we did go to breakfast, watch a movie at home, spend the fourth at a friend's hour, and have some time to just hang out. Otherwise, my two favorite things about the weekend were my long ride and the book I started (and finished).
After riding 41 miles with Beth on Thursday, we planned another long ride on Saturday morning, but this time it was going to be different. Beth, her boyfriend Nick, and his friend Cecil were planning to meet up with a big group ride in Dunedin, and they invited me along. It was my first group ride, and a lot of it was on the roads. I was nervous going into it, but I knew that the only way to gain confidence with things is to dive in head first without thinking about it.
Plus, I was promised that it would be a slow ride (which we later realized wasn't that true). I'll share first the route we took and the stats of the ride, because I didn't realize how far 34 miles was until I really saw it mapped out.
We met at a Publix, where I lathered up with sunscreen and got myself ready to go. The group was made up of about 20-25 people, and the first part of the ride would be on the Pinellas Trail. The paces were, as promised, slow. We were going 15-16 mph, and we had a tail wind so it wasn't hard to pedal at that speed at all. And then, they slowly started picking up as we were getting upwards of 8-10 miles. We were then riding in the 18-20 mph range from 10-20 miles of the ride. Because we had the tail wind and we were in a group, though, it wasn't as hard as it would have been riding alone. As we made our way to the first stop (the lower part of the red line jutting out into the water) we caught a major tail wind on the bridges out to the beach and were riding in the 21-23 mph range. I loved it! We were flying! I've never sustained that pace for the distance.
And then we got to the little picnic area where we took our first 5 or so minute break, I unclipped my right foot, and I started falling left. Oops! First fall! And it made me realize that as long as I go down like I'm supposed to, these falls aren't the end of the world. I stood right up and started walking over to the rest of the group to eat a snack. After bonking a little on Thursday I loaded myself up with more than I thought I'd need. In a bigger group I didn't want to be the one dragging people down.
We rode a few more miles up to the top of the map, stopped again, and I ate again. At the first stop I had the sandwich, and at the second I had the waffle.
After that, we started to take off. Someone noticed that something was off with my chain, so I stopped and someone helped me. I ended up separated from Beth, Nick, and Cecil because they didn't see me stop (which I wouldn't have expected them to and didn't want to tell them to stop and wait because I knew I'd catch up). I rode with another group of 5 or so with a guy pulling part of the way. As he was slowing a little I rode up to the front to help in the pulling a bit, which I still am not sure if it was the right thing to do. Later I mentioned to him that I was new and just knew that I take turns with my friends on the trail, and I didn't know if I was supposed to do that here. He said it had helped, so I guess I didn't make a newbie mistake.
There was a red light where I ended up having to unclip and then got confused with conflicting messages from behind and in front. People in front saying to go, and people in the back saying to stop. It's hard to judge what you're supposed to do when different people are saying different things, but in the end it seems you just have to do whatever seems right and safe to you.
We did catch up to Beth, Nick, and Cecil, and it seems a lot of the group had gotten split up at different speeds around that time, but in the end we ended up all back together to take a main road back to the starting point. We broke off from the bigger group at that point and there were 5 or 6 of us that kind of went together to the main road instead of the trail. There was one scar moment with a hill and a red light at the bottom, and I had my second fall. Again, because I was with other people I just brushed it off, ran across the intersection with my bike instead of riding, and shook it off as quickly as I could.
We were riding more hills, and we all were ready to be done by that point. When we finally turned back onto Curlew and had our last stretch, we were riding with a tail wind a little downhill, and our speeds really picked up! My Garmin says my maximum speed was 26.6, but we were definitely in the 25-26 range for that little stretch. I just tried not to think about it and rode! And when that Publix came that signified the end of the ride, it was about the most beautiful thing I had seen.
The ride was so much fun, but stepping out of your comfort zone is always a little nerve-wracking. That being said, I can't wait to do it again!
And then, I came home, showered, and picked up Gone Girl from the library:
And since then, I've also finished it! What a book! I won't share anything that's at all a spoiler. I really enjoyed it a lot. That author definitely knows how to design a plot line that hooks the reader. There were so many plot twists and turns, and most of the turns were completely unexpected. I had heard from a lot of people that it was crazy, so I spent a lot of time trying to anticipate what was going to happen next. What I thought was going to be the resolution was only the halfway point in the book. It was absolutely a page turner.
In the end, I was somewhat let down by the ending, but I'm not sure how else Gillian Flynn could have ended it that would have left me more satisfied. The book would have had to have gone on for another 100 pages.
There were definitely parts that made the book a little more drawn out than it needed to be, but some of that ended up being mentioned during important points in the plot. I think it still could have been reduced, but I guess no one needed my editorial review before sending it to be published.
Next up I'm going to go for something lighter, and I've been enjoying requesting books from the library again after a long hiatus.
Two questions for the two topics:
Any tips for a group ride I should take into consideration?
Any recent reads you'd recommend, whether lighthearted or a page turner?