Well... that was interesting. They had two experienced groups (A+B) and a beginner's 'C' group which was much slower. I went with the 'C' because of my lack of experience riding in a group.
Everything went pretty well, the ride leader coached everyone through single and double pace-lines, coming off the left and the right,by arrangement. It was great to go through the process,several times. -Lots of good experiences, but I had to stop for a flat rear tire... TWICE.
The first time I heard a "pop-swish-swish-swish-swish" and knew immediately, so I called a puncture, and the ride leader asked how many people had NEVER changed a tube or fixed a flat. There were a half dozen or more hands that went up, so he changed the flat while explaining the process to everyone. -Of course it was slower, but we were in no rush.
The pressure wasn't all the way up in the rear tire I knew, but we had no gauge, so I didn't want to over-fill it. However, I couldn't understand why it was SO DAMN HARD to pedal afterwards... it was a struggle whereas up til then I'd been breezing it. -The wheel wasn't in straight, so the brake was rubbing. -I discovered this after the tube started to deflate and I had to stop and change it... AGAIN.
One apparently fairly experienced rider stayed back to make sure I was okay, and the rest of the group kept heading home. -When I got the second tube gassed up and this time had the wheel spinning freely, I was AMAZED at how it was suddenly so much easier to speed up.... -so much so that the other rider called me to say that he couldn't keep up and was suddely pretty worn out... -this was after about 38 miles... surprised the heck out of me; -I was good to go, and still had a 4-mile ride home after the end of the group run.
So the weekend ended up as an 87-mile weekend, with about 40 miles of that being group mileage, and the rest solo... -I DEFINITELY get the 'group ride' thing... It's much easier in terms of distance, and it's a little more like 'interval training' in terms of being comparatively relaxed for a while, but with short bursts of harder 'push' at regular intervals...
The other thing which I found fairly distinctive -which I hadn't really thought about- is the sound of eighty shoes clicking in all at once as everybody moves off... Of course it happens all around you, and it's really quite a 'here we go' moment.
I'll definitely be doing it again; possibly next week, when they'll be running an 'A', a 'B' and a 'B-nice' group. -I'll try the 'B-nice' as a nice transition... I think that I should be able to keep up without disgracing myself, and I'll see how that goes.
Today seemed to be snake day... I scared a black racer (about 4 feet) and came across a 5-footer right after it had been run over by a car... -ugh!
Now to patch those tubes!