Here I went again, off on another adventure with my bike to meet up with dozens of women cyclists in the greater Sacramento area. As a recreational road rider, I log about 3,000 miles per year, but lately, I’ve wanted those to be social miles, too, with some pre- and post-ride camaraderie. Here was Bike Like a Girl (BLAG) putting on a ride for women that lured me like a beacon. Their warm welcome and hearty route options are irresistible – I’ve grabbed the bike and headed for their rides twice this month.
Their Saturday, May 20 ride was what BLAG calls a pop-up ride, one that doesn’t necessarily fall into any schedule and may be held in conjunction with other women’s groups’ rides. That Saturday was a cooker, weather-wise, soaring into the mid-90s. Teamed up with women from Sierra Foothills Cycling Club, Sisters in Cycling, and TBF Women's Cycling, the BLAG ride had a scheduled start of 9:00 a.m. at The Flower Farm, a quaint eatery, winery, and garden in the foothill town of Loomis. Two routes complete with route sheets, leaders, and sweeps, gave the 48 riders in attendance the option of 25 miles and less climbing or 35 miles and more climbing.
Having come from Yuba City about an hour away, my cycling friend Sheri and I arrived early, prepped ourselves and our bikes, and signed in. We decided to tackle the longer route with about 2,500 feet of climbing. Visiting among our new comrades on bikes before the ride sparked a sense of excitement and was first contact for what would become new friendships by the ride’s end. For me, there were a handful of familiar faces as I had ridden with BLAG last year and earlier in May, but there were dozens of new people to meet.
As it often is on bike rides, visiting happens among those whose paces are similar. Once off the busier roads, I had chances to meet those riding nearest to me. I love bikes, and love chatting about bikes and cycling with anyone with the shared interest. When we’re out experiencing a ride together, it gives us that much more of a foundation and more to talk about. “Glad I missed THAT pothole.” “I’m pretty sure we turn right here. Do you have the route sheet handy?” “Nice job.” “How are you feeling?” Stuff like that. If you ride with friends, you know how it goes.
I welcome it all. I can exchange light comments with some riders or can get to know others better than I know some of my cousins. It’s whatever works for those pedaling with me.
BLAG rides are no-drop rides. There’s immense comfort in that, as I’m no super athlete. In fact, it takes me about 10 miles to feel really comfortable on a ride. For me, those first 10 feel a little worrisome – Do I feel okay? Can I keep up? Oh, ug, a steep climb already? There’s an array of riding abilities and fitness levels on these rides, but riding with leaders and sweeps, you’re never adrift or abandoned.
The 35-mile route incorporated a couple of the tougher climbs that the Tour de Lincoln uses each May. I had just ridden that metric century, so this BLAG outing had me right back out there, grinding my way up those hills, and earning the satisfaction of some thriller descents.
Arriving back at The Flower Farm felt great. I love finishing a ride – all sorts of endorphins are coursing through me by then. It was wonderful to shed the cycling cleats, stow the bike and head for lunch with my pal Sheri and all the new friends we’d made. Thanks, Bike Like a Girl – I’m hooked!
Jennifer von Geldern writes for Sacramento-based Comstock’s business magazine and the national publication Horse & Rider on a monthly basis, and her work has been published in a dozen magazines and online throughout her 20 years as a freelance writer. Based in Yuba City, California, she's begun applying her love of writing to her passion for bicycles and cycling, and has become a frequent contributor to Cycle California! magazine.