CBC Ride Leader

I was sweep for a few Tuesday Night Surprise rides for the Cascade Bicycle Club. Last night I was officially leading the ride. Lynn was going to "sweep."

With the help of Google Earth and Bikely I put together this ride which renders like this in Google Earth:

This is Seattle; Gasworks Park, where we started, is off to the left (East). The route we followed is the thin white line you see overlaid on the map. It roughly follows the shoreline of Lake Washington. To the right is Magnuson Park.

There were 17 riders last night, and due to the good weather some newcomers. I was a bit nervous, given the turnout there were likely people wrong for the ride. I was also using a mostly untested (in a group) route which would have a fair number of hills. The hills would certainly be a problem for some, especially a Dad with his two kids (largely "dead weight") on a tandem.

Still, despite the possibility of being "too hard", I was looking forward to some "new roads" in the route. The route followed many roads I've never seen other leaders chose: roads through the University of Washington campus (twice), roads of Laurelhurst and Windermere, Magnuson Park, and my favorite bridge over Ravenna Park. I included many roads I used to ride 10 years ago as a student. I also picked out a number different hills, some new to me.

We went through U.W. mostly together. There are a few hills and decents where I picked up speed, but I kept my pace at 14 mph on the flats — the "moderate pace" meant I had to keep it at around 14-16 mph. Still, I went faster than many in the group. I was told to "keep it slow" and keep the group together. A couple of lights through U.W. a parking lot later, we were in Laurelhurst and I was having to check the cue sheet. Laurelhurst was really the main focus of the ride. My route was called "Lost in Laurelhurst" since the roads snake around a bit making it tough to navigate and I did make one wrong turn — into a dead end! — since my cue sheet was incorrect. And rounding the tip of the peninsula (shown in the middle bottom of the map), was a big climb which I think was hard for a number of riders. It was still hot!

I was to wait and regroup after every climb, which I did. It took some time to for all riders to arrive. I felt like apologizing to those late-comers who were having a bit of a hard, obviously. I took out a couple of extra climbs in Laurelhurst but there was still another climb until leaving the neighborhood.

Waiting in front of a gas station, Lynn (sweep) was telling me to "stop" and wait for somebody with a dropped chain. Given we had 17 bicycles, it was inevitable that something would happen to one of them. Then there was a lady who was walking her bicycle downhill, and who I later heard was recovering from a shoulder injury before she left the ride.

I knew Windermere was going to be easier, so I wanted to move along and redeem myself. Indeed, it was a fun ride and much flatter than Laurelhurst. Then there was getting to Magnuson Park, which was easy. I discovered the park was under serious construction and no water for the people who ran out. This was bad, although not really my problem since the riders could have easily carried enough to ride these 20 miles! Lynn also said goodbye to the injured woman and her friend, who I guess wasn't up for the ride.

Post potty break, we rode through the rest of the park, reaching the end, and there I was finding the road did not end up at the exit of the park, but instead pretty much dead-ended. With 17 people (now 15) you try to hide your mistakes a bit. Near the old Navy village, people were clamoring for water, but there was none, and we had to carry on.

There was one more big climb, and I sort of dreaded it, since I think people had their fill by now. I stuck with the plan. The decent was fun but lead to a busy arterial with no shoulder (NE 95th Street). It'd be normally okay, but with 15 riders it was pretty dangerous to take that road, especially uphill a bit. John with the two kids had enough and went home. And the rest of us went to Meadowbrook Community Center and had a water break. It was now getting on to sunset.

Lynn suggested a different way back than in my cue sheet to save a hill, and advised me to take a way not entirely familiar. I missed my turn to Ravenna Avenue NE. The group was split! Realizing my mistake we U-turned and the front half (me) eventually caught up with the back half.

Returning was mostly uneventful except for passing through a Block Party, which we weren't supposed to do.

I learned a few things from this experience: 1) Moderate pace means picking a route with hills climbleable with moderate effort. (Though 80% of the riders were okay, it probably wasn't good to "kill" the other 20%) 2) Pick routes for groups not for individual riders. This means routes with fewer lights and lots of room for cars to pass. 3) People are very tolerant of mistakes made. 4) I might want a clipboard for the sign-up sheet, which takes a long time for many people to get through.

We had a pretty good turn out for the post-ride meal. At the Nickerson, we had a rider under 21 — a first for this ride? — and given the liquor laws, we had to eat inside, frustrating since it was hotter inside the building than out. I talked rides with Mike Wong, a ride leader off for the week, ate meatloaf, and had a Manny's.

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About eliasross

Blogging before the word "blog" was invented.
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