Saturday saw my debut as ride leader with the C group ride of Team MK. The day dawned with better weather than had been forecast which was a bit of a bonus to start with. I was a little apprehensive about how things would go. Although I have no problem maintaining the required average speed of around 15/16mph for the group when I am out alone, I wasnt sure of my ability to control the excesses of others who from past experience tend to like to sprint off the front from time to time and then have to slow down to wait for the slower riders to catch up. It was my intention to pace the group so that the constant speed changes where unnecessary. These can be very tiring.
I arrived at the rendezvous point in Stony Stratford good and early. It looked like the turnout was going to be quite low for all the groups for several reasons. First the weather forecast hadn’t been very good, secondly England were playing in a quarter-final game against France in the Rugby World Cup ( which we subsequently lost?) and finally the Brickhills Challenge Sportive was taking place locally the following day. Nevertheless there were 13 riders in the C Group, not too many for me to be able control alone so there was no need to appoint another rider to cover the tail of the group to keep any stragglers in touch. This is usually another experienced rider who just rides at the back of the group and will yell out a ‘slow down’ or ‘rider off the back’ if necessary.
We set off at 9:30 and we were headed for the cafe at Carlton where we had been with the Wednesday group in the week. As it happens the ‘B’ group were also going there, but by the traditional route, looping round close to Northampton and back around to Carlton and also adding on a few extra miles as they usually ride further than the 45-50 miles of ‘C’ group. It was my intention to take my group on a new route approaching Carlton from the south. A variation on a ride I regularly do from home.
I set a steady pace and kept taking a look back from my position at the front to make sure we were all together still. After about 10 miles I dropped to the back of the group to check that the pace was OK for everybody and it seemed to be so. I resumed my position at the front and I was able to control the group quite easily because, as it was a new route to most of them they didn’t know where we were going so overtaking me wasnt a good idea. Part of my cunning plan.. 🙂 My Garmin was showing a steady average of around 16mph and I kept it there pretty much.
We arrived at Carlton at exactly the same time as the ‘B’ group but we had done 31 miles and they had done nearer to 40. Fortunately there is plenty of room at the cafe there other wise it would have been a bit congested. There was quite a bit of banter between the riders of the two groups as usual but that’s all part of the fun.
I was expecting the group to split up once we set off back after our refreshment but they seemed quite content to stay behind me still. probably something to do with headwind we were now riding into!! Nobody left on the way back except where they broke off to make their various ways home as we got nearer to Stony Stratford. There were only four of us who actually rode all the way back to the start.
Overall I was quite happy with the way things went and I did receive a few ‘thanks for a nice ride’ from several riders as they disappeared to go their own ways which was nice to hear and reassuring. We averaged the required 16mph for the ride (16.1 actually) which was good as in the forums on the club website there are often complaints because the group rides have been too fast with riders dropped and left to find their own way home.