Last Wednesday evening I joined an all-abilities group ride with the Singletrack Sisters group. We met in Fruita, at 18 Road for some much needed after-work riding.
About Singletrack Sisters: According to their Facebook page, Singletrack & Skinny Tire Sisters of Western Colorado is “a cycling group for women who love to mountain and road bike in Western Colorado.” They want to get all experience levels – from novice to expert – involved in both road and mountain biking on the Western Slope.
Before the Ride: I have no problem admitting that I am maybe not the best type of person to do a “group” ride with. Don’t get me wrong, I like riding with friends and co-workers but for me the decisions like, “What time? Where are we going? What do you feel like riding?” seem to take forever. Recently I’ve tried to take a much more laid back approach with co-worker group rides. I am patient. I happily wait on people and really enjoy all the trails out here so much that whatever trail gets picked is one I’ll gladly ride. And you know what? This is a much better way to ride with a group. Just chill and enjoy it.
So I went into my first real, not-co-workers-but-people-who-have-formed-an-actual-mountain-bike-group group ride with no qualms at all about time, place, or trails. That could be because the group’s Facebook page said, “This Wednesday we’re riding at 18 Road. Please be there by 5:45, wheels up at 6!” That takes all the decision-making and guesswork out of it. Easy!
During the Ride: There were 8 of us who braved the 30 mph wind gusts in the deserts of Fruita for this ride. Two women were beginners, some were much more advanced than me, and I guess the rest of us fell in the middle. Almost immediately we naturally formed two groups: the lead pack of super fast ladies, and the more moderately-paced pack I was in. I assume this is what happens most of the time and it worked out well as we all met up at frequent rest spots.
Because the group was small we all agreed to ride the same set of trails – there wasn’t a “beginners” group and an “advanced” group. At 18 Road the trails we rode are suitable for most everyone from moderate beginners on up. You might have to walk parts, but overall you can have a good time no matter what level you are. Your lungs will take more of a beating than anything.
I found myself in the middle of the pack for the most part, pushing myself harder than normal to keep up. That’s good though – sometimes you need to push yourself. You don’t get better by standing still, that’s for sure.
I was really impressed with the stamina of this group! They were all fit and fast and friendly. It’s amazing how quickly we all adapted to one another. “Everyone ok back there?” “Did everyone make it?” “Nice job!” were common phrases to hear during the ride.
Toward the end I split off from the group because I was running short on time. I picked up a pizza to go from The Hot Tomato and headed home. The others finished their ride and then headed for après bike pizza and beer. What better way to end a group ride?
My thoughts post-ride:
- I can see the benefits of group rides. Group rides either force you to push yourself harder or require you to slow down and take it easy. Both of these options can be a nice change from your normal routine.
- Group rides make it easier to try new trails or technical spots because you know you’ve got plenty of people around to cart you out if you get too bloody.
- There is always someone to take pictures! Last night we had one person using a GoPro to capture video footage and another taking photos.
- There is always the chance you might find yourself in over your head with a group ride. If you are brand new to riding and this is your first trail ride ever, you might want to email the person in charge of the group to find out more information. Is there a specific night that beginners ride?
- Groups offer support. When you ride alone, you can say to yourself, “Yeah! Way to clean that!” But when other people say it? It’s way better.
- Riding with a new group is like skiing with a new group – everyone has their own style and you learn more from watching them. You become more adventurous and ultimately become a better rider by riding with more people and different people.
Nola’s thoughts post-ride:
Ok, what I like about riding with the Sisters…
- I like to meet more women in the valley that ride.
- I like to watch each person’s individual riding style. I have found that I can learn many things by watching others ride.
- I like how from time to time there are mini practice sessions on various obstacles that most women struggle on. The group members give pointers and tips to help you conquer!
- I like how the flow of the group naturally splits up. The faster ladies lead and the slower ladies feel comfortable further back.
- I like that no matter where you ride in the group, faster or slower, the ride will get your butt into shape!
- I like how social it is. At first it’s quiet, but as the women warm up, things get a whole lot more chatty.
- I like how by the end of a single ride, you feel like you’ve made new connections and friends.
Below are a few more photos from our night. As you can tell, even taking photos was a group effort!