Last night was the first ever edition of the Velo 7173 Wednesday Night Chain Gang! I’d been trying to get a bunch of local riders together for a while, but one thing or another got in the way and then summer was gone. Last night though, it all came together perfectly! I’d previously created a Strava Club and set up the ride, invited local riders who I knew were of similar fitness, then hoped somebody would turn up…
I rolled out from home early for quick warm-up lap, then was relieved to see Quinton, Adam and Sam at the Bakery meet-up spot. The sun was still shining, only a light breeze in the air and warm enough for shorts (only just). It was quite literally the perfect Autumn evening for the ride. I’m not sure how many more of these we’ll get before winter…
I’d ridden with Quinton previously (although a long time ago) and knew he was a solid rider, but the other two I’d only “met” through Strava. When you ride with people similar to you, over time you get to know how they ride. You can almost second guess what they’re going to, how they’ll sweep a corner, how fast they’ll bomb a descent. It’s what makes bunch riding so good. You become a team.
Paceline goals: Quinton, Adam, then yours truly on the front.
That first ride with a new crew can sometimes be tricky. You don’t know if you’ll get on with each other. You are yet to learn their strengths and weaknesses or how confident they are at holding their line. Riding in close proximity, wheel to wheel at high speed is a skill that takes hours in the saddle to hone. Luckily, we all gelled from the gun and formed a consistent paceline.
Quinton, Adam and I took turns on the front, while Sam (a less experienced rider) was holding well in the draft. He’d made it known beforehand that he hasn’t ridden much and may struggle, which is the perfect thing to do. There’s no point hiding the fact as when you blow, nobody will be aware.
Sam was suffering on the climbs, but because he’d let me know earlier, I knew to look out for this. After cresting each climb, I’d get the guys to drop the pace on the front, and I’d fall back to Sam and tow him back up to the bunch on my wheel. This worked well and I’m sure made the ride far more enjoyable for him!
Traffic in the afternoon/evening was higher than during my usual ride times, but we didn’t get any hassle from drivers thankfully. As a tight bunch we managed to bust out a few speedy laps before the light started to fade fast. Not wanting to get caught out, we decided to call it a night. I rolled back around with the guys towards their places, then turned off to solo for home. I pressed save on the Garmin, pulling into my drive with a shade over 43km worth of quality riding in the legs.
Not bad for a Wednesday evening!