I went on a big group ride Sunday with several riders from Kentucky including a few of the fastest riders in the area. We went to the Ruby which is one of more difficult areas of the Shawnee, and the recent heavy rains haven’t helped the trail. It was swamped, literally in places. The combinations of mud, debris on the trail and the Ruby’s always rocky terrain made for some difficult riding.
Whenever you start off a group ride with people you don’t know there is a sort of shakedown period, are these guys going to blow past me, get dropped on the first climb, fall in front of me, are their bikes going to explode? I’ve been on a few mixed group rides with people I don’t know that have gone South fast. I remember a woman crashing on some loose rocks and then angrily saying, “You don’t Groom Your Trails Do You.” I only knew a few of the riders that showed up and I knew they could take care of their selves. Luckily for us everyone on the ride was capable.
On a road bike group ride the more people you add generally the more fun you have, on a mountain bike ride it seems like there is a ratio, once you get to a certain number of people adding more takes away fun. Things get so strung out, chances for mechincals go up, riders go off the front, get lost, miss turns. I’ve been some pretty epic clusters when large groups rides have gone bad. Like that time at One Horse Gap, were we lost someone, then lost the guys who went to find the lost guys, then lost half the group.
Anyway this Sunday was excellent, there were riders there who could have probably did the ride in half the time it took the group but everyone rode together and took it in. Moe, our fearless leader kept things moving and picked out a great route to showcase the scenery and variety that the Shawnee has to offer. A young man who was 12 years old impressed the tar out of me by riding the entire 16 miles of sludge and rocks. When I was his age it would have been hard to pry me away from the Nintendo long enough to do the ride.
Anytime riders come from other areas I’m always a bit apprehensive about our trails, do they realize how messed up they can be? Is this ride going to be a cluster? When the Kentucky Wood and Wave crowd comes there is nothing to worry about. I hope they come back when it’s dry.