With the weather improving and the days getting longer, the American River Bike Trail is getting more crowded. The Peloton Group agreed that we need to find an alternate flat route for some of our rides. This afternoon, 4 of us met for an exploratory ride on the South Canal Bike Path. We were joined by three Performance Group members.

From left to right in the photo above: The Amazing Oz, Jammin’ Jeff, Feloniously Fast Phil, Kevlar Kevin, Stanley Steamer, Laid Back Lisa, and CycloRon.

As he usually does when he finds out we’re trying out something new, CF founder Steve Ward provided us with a great overview of what to expect via e-mail yesterday, as well as several safety and convenience tips about the path.

The path is in great shape and provides a relatively unobstructed ride for miles (we traveled about 10 miles and didn’t come close to its end). There are a couple of roads that you have to get across, which can require a bit of patience in the interests of safety, but not too big of a deal.
Given that we had the Performance Group guys with us, we knew we weren’t going to get off easy. We faced a moderate headwind on the way out and held a pace of around 18 to 20mph.

After a few miles of double pace line riding (two-up riders, both riders peel off at the same time), we decided to try a revolving single pace line (two-up riders; the left pace line slowly drops back while the right pace line moves forward; as you reach the back of the pack you move right and start moving up, and as you reach the front of the pack you move left and begin to drop back). This was a new technique for the Peloton riders, except for Lisa (and maybe Ron). It took a while to get into sync, but it was very cool one we got the hang of it. We really covered some ground with very little time pulling. It’s experiences like this that make me appreciate Cycle Folsom even more. You don’t get too many chances to try different pace line techniques on your own, or even in most groups.

On the way back, we had the wind at  our back. We got into our groove and really started movin’. I mostly saw 20 to 22mph when I looked down at my computer. As we came within a few miles of the Nimbus Fish Hatchery, the Performance boys kicked it into high gear in an effort to test each other a bit. I jumped on and held on for all it was worth—giving it a respectable effort for a Peloton level rider—but alas, I had to peel off after a couple miles. In my opinion, it’s these little challenges that help you elevate the expectation you have for yourself.

This ride gave us a great taste of what’s to come as the weather warms up and the days get longer. I expect that we’ll be seeing more mid-week group rides forming.

Thanks once again to Ron Vanhuuksloot for his photographic efforts. The poor guy will race ahead and take pictures as we roll by, leaving him to pull himself back into the pack with a lot of effort. It’s appreciated.

Note: We’ve started a Group on MapMyRide.com. There, you can see the stats for this and other rides. The Leaderboard feature also allows you to compare your mileage and workouts against others who are participating. It can be a great motivator to get you in your saddle so you don’t get left behind on weekends.