Hitomi and I did a "metric century" ride today. (This is where you ride 100km in a single day.)
She and I joined a faster ride ("moderate pace", 14-16 mph) today, which took us from the town of Snohomish, through Arlington, Granite Falls, and various small towns and lakes. There was about 40-50 people on this ride (I had expected a handful) and pretty much every one of them had more expensive bikes than us and experience to match. Top-of-the line Shimano Dura-Ace and Campy Record component sets all around. Most everyone was around 40+, and most were men. There were women, though quite burly. Surprisingly, there was one 16-year old on the ride. Hitomi and I represented the late-20 and early-30 demographic. It was clear we weren't of the Veteran caliber.
However, Hitomi did keep up with the pack – at least initially – and I did just fine. My bike's so smooth (if the road's smooth) and I was beaming at how well it rides. We went through a lot more scenery than the previous weekend (which mostly sucked from a scenery standpoint) and keeping in with the pack helped shield us from the traffic. It was my first ride with so many in one area, it was like we were in a flock of migratory birds or herd of elk or something.
At around the 40 mile mark (our lunch stop), Hitomi was flagging and last. I was fine (my cold knees finally started warming up) and in some ways I was actually feeling better than at the start. But it was about 3 hours into the long ride and Hitomi couldn't match pace with the rest. The leader (Greg) was concerned – he suggested various short-cuts (to me) if she was tired. Hitomi said she was "fine" and could finish, though now was only going 12-14 mph. Having said that, it seemed likely we'd just finish the route, if only at a shorter velocity.
Our lunch was in front of a supermarket in Granite Falls. Since we got there late, we were leaving after most people left, and Hitomi again was in the back. It seemed unlikely we'd be able to keep up. I got frustrated since we (Hitomi) was getting abandoned (even by the old guy in the back) and I tried to keep Hitomi pedaling. She also popped her chain a few times and had a tough time with the derailer and I told her she doesn't know how to shift properly. (This I think is true, but wasn't nice to say. Having had it adjusted by Larry at "Perfect Wheels" it's probably as good as it might be. The only improvement would be replacing the derailer entirely.)
Despite our frustratingly slower progress, we actually weren't too behind many riders. We passed a group dealing with some mechanical issues (flat tire?) and met up with the aforementioned teenager (Jeff) who was having some of his own bicycle problems. Confused about the route (we mistakenly on the west side not east of Lake Roesiger), we stopped and talked to some older folk. They were planning a taking a well-known short cut. The shortcut would save about 12 miles off of the 75 planned for the trip, though for the distance saved, I found that it went up and down some quite substantial hills.
Hitomi's bicycle isn't as good as it should be. Although when I bought it, it was clearly better than mine, now it's not. It's a bit unfair to have the slower person is stuck with the worst bike. But really her lack of speed is more about her lack of strength, which will take time to build. We're aiming for 100 miles (not kilos) over two days and I want to help her meet her goal of Seattle to Portland.