My last group ride with the guys from the local shop was in October. I wanted to ride in November and December but something always got in the way – getting sick, the holidays, family obligations, etc. A couple of weeks ago I tried to make it to a ride and realized halfway there that I had forgot my helmet. It just wasn’t meant to be. I wouldn’t be denied this past Saturday though.

On Friday I made sure everything was ready and in one spot so all I had to do was throw my stuff in the car. I was so prepared that I had plenty of time to wait at the shop while everyone else showed up. I had heard that for the winter rides fewer riders showed up and that was the case as we left with only about ten of us. The weather was going to be nice though with highs near 75F in the afternoon.

After our customary 3-4 mile warm-up I came to the quick realization that I had waited too long to get back out here. I was hurting already and it wasn’t going to get easier. As we crossed over a bridge I pulled off my trademark move – the stealth slide back to the B group. Except I was already leading the B group. So I just stayed where I was. Three of us made up the group including the shop owner who drove a relentless pace when in the lead.

Two other guys joined us that broke off from the A group so five of us ended up settling into a paceline for the next six or seven miles. This was when the shop owner asked if I was interested in stopping for coffee. All I heard was rest stop. So I said yes. There’s a Starbucks conveniently located on the return route so we stopped in at mile 20 for a rest. I mean coffee.

We sat outside (did I mention that the temp was climbing?) and had our coffee and talked. There was a new guy with us who was wearing some of the brightest shoes I’ve ever seen. The joke was what size batteries they used and whether or not he actually needed lights at night. They were the Diadora AeroSpeed 2 in fluorescent yellow. Believe me when I tell you that the pic below does the actual thing no justice.

Diadora AeroSpeed 2 Flourescent Yellow

Diadora AeroSpeed 2 Flourescent Yellow

I seem to have given myself a nickname as well. The new guy was pointing to each person sitting at the table asking what they did – one guy was the shop mechanic, another was the shop manager, another was the shop owner and then he points to me and asks what I do at the shop. I instantly reply that I’m the shop wheel sucker. That got a good laugh.

Alas, it was time to get back on the bike and finish the last five miles. We rolled back into the shop right at 25 miles at a 17.5 mph pace. All joking aside, while I was hurting pretty bad, this first group ride of the year was better than my first last year so I can’t argue. Just gotta stay committed and put the miles in.

Thumbnail courtesy of Wheel Sucker on Twitter. Why don’t you click through and follow.