Recently I found myself wishing our local CUK group did mid-week rides, and thought of suggesting it, but happily at another unrelated local event other members happened to be there and told me that such a group was just starting up! The next ride was the following day, and I cycled in the 5 1/2 miles or so to join them at the start.
It was highly enjoyable - there were six of us, nothing too strenuous, and discovering some new roads. As the planned route was coming through my village, I had made chocolate muffins before I left, thinking I would offer the others a coffee stop here (and use of facilities...) instead of the planned stop at a nearby village's cafe. They accepted enthusiastically - and one of the other members also contributed home made gingerbread men. Pity I didn't take a photo!
Yesterday we had another ride, the first official one for this mid-week group. This time there were eight of us, and again we had another very pleasant ride of about nine miles around local routes. We stopped at the lovely Ardington shop and cafe for refreshments - and again used the all-important facilities! (On my way home a couple of hours later, the facilities were more bush-like....)
What is good is that even though these rides are all on roads I have ridden before, there is always some little bit I haven't discovered. I commit them to memory for future use.
I still find group rides a bit daunting, and I have to slightly force myself to do them, as I have thoughts of -
"Will I be able to keep up?" I did. This group's rides are not fast paced though.
"Will I fall off in front of other people and look a plonker....?" I did slip (wet leaves perhaps) turning a tight corner of a path but did not fall.
"Will I manage any hills?" There was only really one on this ride and no, I did not manage it, because I did not manage the sharp left turn onto it, and had to get off and walk, but it didn't really matter.
Having said all that, I have always ended up enjoying them. What I enjoy is the social side - riding alongside someone else who also enjoys cycling, and chatting, and then more chatting over some delicious refreshments!
After the ride, I cycled back into town to do some shopping. Being the fan of charity shops that I am, after parking my bike I thought -
"I'll just pop along to the Red Cross shop...."
And what was almost better than finding a bargain (which I did, incidentally - a nice linen East tunic) was meeting the lady who I think of as the Stylish Bicycling Lady. This is a lady who I have noticed because I love her vintage bike - green sit-up-and-beg with basket and bunting! - and she is, you've guessed it, very stylish in her clothing, but in a charity shop sort of way. I'm sure she won't me saying that! I also dress in a very charity shop sort of way, but I am more along the lines of a bag lady!!! Some people have style, I don't.....
I told her I had always admired her bike and her style, and we fell into discussion of her bike. She finds it very comfortable to ride, so much so, that after one of the pedals broke, she has been riding it with only the spindle on that side because of difficulty with getting someone to fix it. I told her there was someone locally on Facebook who might be able to help, and although I hadn't got the name I said I'd try and found out and gave her my details in case she couldn't find the person herself.
I cycled on home later and thought what a good few hours I had had all because of cycling, and how, like small children and dogs, bicycles bring people together.