18/2/17 – Clarissa Joins a Bike Gang

Went on a group cycle today! Huzzah, huzzah!

It was my first time with a mixed group that I’ve been a member of for some months now, but never quite got the courage to go with before. Just a bit too much serious lycra-ing and mentions of MPH targets and sportive rides… it’s enough to make a girl wonder if she can keep up, or if she will embarrass herself and be left in the dust. Luckily for me, this cycle was targeted towards new faces, so I signed up a wee while ago, and come 10 AM I met up with my new group along the Union Canal.

Here’s the route we took. Despite MapMyRide zapping my battery only halfway through, someone else got this cool interactive map  here. Strava is a pretty nifty cycle app that I may switch to if nothing else than to see if it honks my battery quite as much as MMR.

At the end of the day a 29 mile ride with a new group is great, but I couldn’t help but unfavorably compare them with my group lady cycles (Belles on Bikes FTW!). They are so good at welcoming newbies and making others feel right at home. Not only that, but they pause frequently to allow folks stopping for photos or caught on the other side of busy road intersections to catch up, as well as pausing to explain what will be coming up ahead, what it’s called, etc. Also they have excellent road manners with constant bell-ringing, singling out on roads or busy cycle paths, etc. Sure, it makes for a slower pace at times, but they still fly up those hills with the best of them.

This ride was a bit… well, honestly a bit mental on that regard! They did stop to allow laggers catch up, but there were frequent times I thought, “Where the hell are we?!” or arrived with only half of the group somewhere, to have the other half of the group arrive minutes later from a different route. There was even a time when I asked one of the leaders post-lunch, “Where will we be heading after this?” in order to figure out where exactly I needed to head home from, and he cagily responded with a laugh, “Oh just wait and see!”

Uh, what?

Nevertheless it was a good strong ride (despite the gray drizzle and the wind), the ride attendees were super nice, and I kept up no problem, in no small part to getting my gears fixed a month or so back. We did pop a total of three different tubes along the way (Jesus Edi roads, why you so rough?!) and also had a small crash going downhill, but everyone made it in one piece!! *nervous laugh*

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I didn’t take too many photos as it was pretty drizzly, but here’s one during a moment’s pause while fixing our first tire. And below, our second–I snapped a quick photo of Arthur’s seat illuminated by sunshine, a bit cheeky really considering the lack of sun with us the entire day!

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When I came back to the flat much later than I originally expected, I convinced Haitham to pop out for a quick walk round Harrison Park where I’d noticed some excellent spring blooms making an appearance. Spring is finally on its way!
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The snowdrops are really going for it in the church nearby. Ugh, I adore them.

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And the crocuses in Harrison Park have been strategically planted to create this gorgeous blanket of blossoms. Even on grim days you can’t help but smile to see it.

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