Truly, it was.
My first ride out with the Hounslow and District Wheelers.
Now I've been out with a couple of clubs before, nothing ventured, nothing gained. Purely on the look out for like minded people to cycle with. I ride daily on my own, so an empty Sunday morning cries out for a club ride.
My previous two experiences weren't great, never a great turn out and not much interest in the new boy. It kinda put me off club riding. Cliquey twats, I'd rather ride alone.
Nowadays my needs are different, I still ride alone 85% of the time but I need to up my mileage for my London to Barca challenge, which is 10 months away, so one last attempt then. A mate at work tells me I should try the Hounslow and District Wheelers as they ride out from Staines bridge, an area I know well. More importantly, they ride on beautiful roads, in a very scenic area just a stones throw from the big smoke.
Why not, its taken me a while mind, a good 3 months to turn up. Wow, I'm so glad I did.
A rendezvous on the Staines bridges, I didn't expect much, I sat waiting, starring at ducks on the Thames, then I saw a rotund dude, dressed head to toe in Rapha kit on a Bianchi, 'right, he must be involved' I thought, so I went and had a word....
That was Tony, a lovely bloke, enjoys his weekend bike rides. I assumed a handful of people would turn up. 30 plus group! Damn! Now we didn't ride in a group this large, we split into fast and medium, as you do. The fast group was 11 strong, including me. I honestly just hoped I'd picked the right team.
I must say, to this point, the welcome had been great, no clique's and constant conversation. All just like minded guys and girls, turning up to ride their bikes and share an experience.
The 2 groups set of to Marlow, very different routes at very different paces. The fast group rode in pairs, where able, and it was great. I rode with another newbie called Tom, who is a scientist, he explained to me how vague HR monitoring was as a performance indicator, among other things, one of these types that doesn't keep quiet, which was perfect as we both knew no one.
Not that it mattered, we rode 2nd in line to the front pair, after 20 miles we got thrown on the front, funny how you ride on the front and control nothing. We rode too fast, too keen and started to split the group, instantly got shouted at and called back, so we reigned it in a little, rode about 18.5 mph. Funny what differences there are riding alone as opposed to in a group.
Always thinking about those behind, "hole", "car down","stopping" and "doooooggggg" are a few phrases I seem to remember.
Now I'm not sure if this was just a better club, with better riders or whether I just wanted to be there more but I loved every minute of this club ride. All the guys rode at a decent level and I felt good and strong, I lead for a good portion of the return leg too. Good to confirm I was strong enough to do so.