One of the things I've missed since my return to cycling last year has been bunch rides. My old crew no longer cycle (or cycle at times I can't make it), so I've been riding solo except for the odd race. For a while now, I've been keen to get back into a bunch and enjoy the ride with some others.
After a big work week, I was keen to knock out some good mileage on Saturday - so I scored the internet for some local bunch rides. I had a few options, and decided on hooking up with the shop ride organised by Planet Cycles. They did a great job of fixing my rear wheel as well, so I thought I'd support their ride.
I rolled up at 6am outside their shop at Woolloongabba. There was a good crowd of 30+ gathering, and the weather was cool with blue skies. After a quick rider briefing by the ride leader (good to see!), we split into a fast & slow group.
The fast group had the Mainline Masters A racing team in it, so I decided the pace there would be way too hot for me. I joined the unfairly named 'slow' group, which was still pretty pacy!
We ended up doing a 56km loop out through East Brisbane, Wynnum, Lota, Capalaba, Chandler, Carindale, and back to Woolloongabba. The first three-quarters of the ride was a strong but steady pace. Plenty of chat amongst the bunch, and a great atmosphere.
The final quarter was when we hit the far eastern end of Old Cleveland Rd. As per the rider briefing, this is where the pace picked up pretty hard, and it was everyone for themselves until we got back to the shop. I did my best and worked harder than I had in a long time on the bike, but could only hold on for a few kilometres. At one point, the 'fast' group blew past us after doing their longer loop - I felt like I was standing still!! EVentually, I regrouped with four others, and we cruised back to the store.
Afterwards, we gathered at Brown Dog Cafe (100m from the shop) for a well-earned coffee and plenty of lively discussion. The coffee here was fantastic, and some of the breakfasts I saw coming out looked delicious. Those of us (not me!) that ordered food gave their verdict via appreciative murmurs as they ate their way through their brekkie.
I'll definitely be joining this bunch again. It's a well-organised group, with a clear ride leader and firm rules as to how to ride. Everyone was a competent rider, with no 'cowboy' antics putting anyone in danger. Its also a very friendly group, welcoming newcomers such as myself.
Final stats for the ride - 56km at an average of 30km/h (which came down a lot after I finished up very easy in the last 5-10km). If you add in my ride to & from the bunch, I racked up 72km for the morning, which I am very happy with!
If you are looking for a good Saturday group ride, the Planet Cycles bunch would be a great one to try.