When I lived in AZ (prior to moving to Hawaii) I had a great little group of friends to ride with. There were like five of us who rode together consistently several times a week... pretty much on the same routes. Over time we got to know each other's riding styles. We knew everybody's strengths and weaknesses. We knew where the fast parts of the ride were going to be and who was going to attack and when. It was really quite amusing and fun to have such a great little group to ride with.
Fast forward like 6-8 years and that little group has grown into something huge... They've got a real name and uniforms and all that. Last time I went back to visit (several years ago) I hopped in on the group ride, which was the same as the one we started with a small group of friends years prior, and hardly knew any of the 40+ people who were there. Amazing how these rides can just take on a life of their own as they grow into something very organized.
Anyway, it was tough to leave that group when I moved to Hawaii. For months (almost a year!) after I moved here I did a lot of training by myself. There are lots of training groups here but I was appalled when I found out that most of them charge you to participate... What??? $400 to join the training group? No thank you. I just could not wrap my head around paying to get into a group training situation. (Masters swimming being the exception here- paying coaches and pool time and all that makes sense... it was bike/run groups that didn't make sense to me. The public roads are free, you know.) Clearly I was very spoiled by my group of friends in AZ. I mean, ok, if you need motivation (like, "I paid $$$ to do this so I'm going to show up and do it"...) then maybe one of the paid groups is right for you. Or if you're new to the sport and not sure how to train properly- though even then I can't say that group training is always 'proper' training, but that's another post.
My point here is that I was psyched to meet some friends who live nearby who train like I do. 5 years ago I saw a gal swimming at the pool near my house. She was wearing an IM Florida swim cap. Hmmm. A triathlete, I thought. As I was leaving the pool I saw her in the parking lot digging through her trunk to find her run shoes... In true stalker fashion, I walked right up to her and started a conversation... yes, she and her husband were both triathletes... yes, they ride on Saturdays... cool. They live like 3 miles down the road from me... Yes! Let's ride this weekend!
So for several years the Saturday Ride was just me, Sandy, and her husband Mike. Just a couple of friends who got together to ride just about every weekend. We are creatures of habit so we tend to do the same route all the time. Or maybe it's that we live on an island and there are like 2 roads here so in reality we don't have much choice. Regardless, it worked for us.
Then little by little we started meeting new triathletes... come ride with us, we would say. And little by little the group grew. And it continues to grow. We've got a great group now of about 10+ 'regulars'... you know- the people show up every week- and we know their strengths and weaknesses and on which section of road they are likely to attack, etc. And then of course we get the 'guest riders' who just show up every once in a while because they heard this is a good fast ride. Some (ok, most!) of these athletes drive over from the other side of the island to play on Saturday mornings. We have formed a team with a team name (and matching outfits and everything!)... And I now find myself back in the same situation I was in while I lived in AZ... a great (and growing!) group of friends who amuse me every Saturday on our ride.
Here's Sandy and Spence at our turn-around point today... trying to call Spence's wife...
I think it's interesting to watch how these rides grow over time and become something so much bigger than just a couple of friends who get together and ride on Saturdays. That's all.