03 January 2009

Jump right in

So, I really enjoy belonging to ABD, a great bike club. I wish I were more involved - I do the occasional club ride, try to stay in shape with the winter boot camp workouts, help out with the Winfield Criterium, and enjoy hanging out at an awesome bike shop. But I don't race, and as many of the club activities are race-related - um, as in bicycle racing - (and that almost always means, on Sunday) I don't get to socials much.

Given all that, it was a gas to host the club's annual New Years Day Ride and Party. The social begins with a club ride at Noon on January 1. The ideal is to ride 1 mile for every degree above zero (F.). In practice, it seems that is debated and rarely achieved! With an overcast morning in the mid-20sF, and wind-chill much closer to zero, we spent some time debating our options. How about 1 minute for every degree? (Too short to bother suiting up, really.) Other ideas surfaced, but we finally decided to do the Monday night "revovery ride" route, which leaves from the Winfield bike shop and covers about 22 miles. The roads were pretty clear, with perhaps more pot-holes than in the summer, there was no precipitation, but a pretty stiff south wind.

Isn't a south wind supposed to warm things up in the Midwest? It sure didn't help, though to be fair at least it wasn't a north wind. And also to be fair, with a few clear days after an amazing rain washed the streets earlier in the week, road crews had filled in quite a few pot-holes. Except for the cold, this would be a pretty "normal" casual club ride.

Back at the house, hot cider was ready and welcome, chili was on the stove, food had accumulated - brought by the riders who had come before Noon, and by later-arriving club members and family who decided (sure, you could say "wisely") not to ride. Amazing chili with all the toppings, taco dips, corn-bread, bread sticks, hummus - not to mention beverages and libations - preceded an excellent array of sweets, chocolate nicely predominating. Cyclists love to eat. And to eat with people you've just ridden with ... that is the best reward of the sport.

The obligatory race videos ran on the TV, groups of cycling enthusiasts (somehow "cycling nerds" doesn't seem quite right) discussed the ride, riding, gear, racing, and riders. Characteristically, even the trash talk was more encouraging than dispiriting. Then there were the more generally social groupings as well, the cycling spouses who - who knows how? - have other things to talk about.

It was a splendid afternoon: a start on the year's road miles, a casual but energizing club ride, great food and camaraderie. Yeah, I think this is the year to get more involved with ABD.

But racing? I don't know ...

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