Bike Clubbing, or Tales of a ‘B’ to ‘C’ Rider

In October 2020 when the local bike shop said it would cost more to repair my 25 year old mountain bike than it was worth, my husband Jon convinced me to trade it in for a sleek red Trek Domane road bike. Growing up, my dad had a bike store and I always rode a bike, but except for some short family jaunts when our own kids were little it had been a long hiatus.

Jon invited me to join the Western Wheelers bike club, and when their LDT (Long Distance Training) season began in January, we drove down to Morgan Hill for our first Saturday. Jon went off with the hard core ‘D’ riders, and with great trepidation I embarked on my fledgling LDT ‘B’ ride. With 37 miles and 1,500 vertical feet of hill climbing I was sure I would be left behind. I wasn’t, but I could barely move afterward and slept for 12 hours. I still maintain that was the hardest ride I ever did.

Each of the following Saturdays until June we rode through a different beautiful Bay Area locale with our respective groups. As the rides increased in difficulty, I was constantly worried about being left behind, of getting lost, of my Garmin not working (It took a full year before I figured out how to load up my routes properly), of the paper cue sheet snapping off into the wind. At times I had unbidden fantasies of losing control on the downhills and sailing over my handlebars onto the asphalt road. Every ride began with my stomach twisted in knots.

Eventually I grew to love the climbs, the burn in my thighs, the incredible views, and I started to make friends. My biggest cycling triumph in 2021 was summiting Mt. Diablo, and I achieved my distance and elevation goals. I named my bike “Miss Spoke.” A nice amalgam of my writing and riding lives.

When January 2022 came along, I leveled up from the ‘B’ to the ‘C’ group. Longer, higher, faster-paced. It was tough all over again as I scrambled to keep up with the group.

I proceeded to summit all three mountains in the series (Diablo plus Tamalpais and Hamilton, aka “Tam and Ham”) and in June rode the club’s annual Sequoia Ride Green route (easiest of the three options at 59 miles and 6,600 feet of climbing) and other crazy hard rides I never thought I could do. I signed up for some bike skills classes and resolved to learn how to change a flat tire. By the end of 2022 I had ridden almost twice as many miles as the year before, and way more than doubled my feet of climbing. My husband told his friends I was a monster. I was so proud.

But about one thing I “misspoke”…one goal I failed to achieve… May this be the year I learn to change a flat.

10 thoughts on “Bike Clubbing, or Tales of a ‘B’ to ‘C’ Rider

  1. Wow what an accomplishment. Your hard work has paid off. If you can master biking all those miles I think changing a tire should be a breeze.


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