First, I think that Rob's email describing the ride was the best ever - if you had any doubts about what you signed up for, Rob covered them, and they were accurate, like this one:
Always be ready for a sudden turn, and ride single file on the road. Many of the turns into the woods are not readily apparent from the road.
On the way to the studio, I was overtaken by Brad Smith, a Seven/Honey welder, formerly of Geekhouse Bikes. Brad is a very nice guy who I see occasionally at Union Square Donuts. We rode in the last 1/4 mile together. Given the 150 riders who were expected, the studio was less than chaotic and I was able to get to the sign in sheets (mine wasn't out yet, not surprising since I was early) then discovered breakfast. I talked with some people who I had met on previous studio rides and some new to me. It was easy to get motivated by the people also getting ready to ride. And soon Rob announced that it was last call for the ride I signed up for (it was also the first announcement for my ride). While I was getting my bike unlocked (there we a lot of nicer bikes there but this is my commuter and I'd be bummed to lose it), I overheard someone say that Mo, a professional racer, was riding. It's pretty cool that this cycling community includes a lot of very nice people, among them are pro racers, including recently retired ones like Mo Bruno Roy.
I was pleased to hear that Brad would be my group's leader/navigator. Rob and Brad quickly got us on the road and we soon made a surprising turn that brought us into a parking lot and over a curb into another lot and soon onto smaller side streets in Lexington. Brad bunny hopped the curb, as did several other people, including one who person who crashed (fortunately with no ill effects). I chose to walk it.
We were soon on trails and the pattern for the ride was set - riding a side road, or a major road, and seeing (barely) a trail and turning on to the trail. I missed the first side trail. This one was part of a previous Diverged ride and I knew it was steep and once I saw people taking the turn, I realized that I needed to downshift before getting on the hill. My Surly has Shimano 105 shifters and my only major complaint is that a shift on front chain rings to the granny gear is slow, very slow. So I made the shift and got back in line. One person in front of me tumbled over from riding to slowly on the steep hill. She brushed herself off and checked her bike and was soon back riding, as I followed her up.
This ride, all 17 miles of it, was contained within the boundaries of Lexington, as was the part of last year's Diverged ride that I completed. Not surprisingly, we rode some of the same trails from last year but a fair number of miles was also new. And they were nice trails and dirt roads. We enjoyed a number of boardwalks, which fortunately weren't slippery like last year, although one person tumbled off of one. There were a number of other minor crashes, including one on a paved road - this one because of a deep gash in the pavement. I also took a tumble, more a controlled fall as I pedaled up a steep hill. I knew I was losing sufficient momentum to stay upright and made it to a point that left a small distance before I hit dirt and not rocks. No harm done physically or to my ego.
The post ride time at the studio was great. I enjoyed a second breakfast (the crew was still cooking!) and chatted with a few people who I rode with and some who I know from following them on Twitter. I was early enough to enjoy 45 minutes there before heading back home. Just before I left for the ride my wife asked, in seeming desperation, when I would be back. I had originally thought I might do the Minuteman to the Reformatory Branch to Battle Road after the ride but duty called and I made it back home by the time I promised her.
All in all it was a great day of riding and socializing. Overland Basecamp is planning a few more rides but some of these are out of my league and being overnight, out of my 'time away from family' budget. I do have a few more group rides booked in my calendar: the May 31 Firefly ride (I hear there is a mixed terrain ride and a road ride - I'm undecided on which I will do), the Dunes Dynamo, and the D2R2. I'd like to try the 250 mile MaNeHa ride but think I would do well with a 50 mile each day version. 125 miles of mixed terrain riding each day is over the top for me right now but it happens that I will be away that weekend so the question is moot. I'll consider the Dusk to Dawn ride that I was planning on last year.
We crossed paths with the medium speed 38 mile ride led by Jenny. She took some pictures of my group but they somehow disappeared.
The trail led through the trees.
And across fields.
There was a decent amount of waiting while regrouping. Notice the houses in the background. Sometimes we were barely in the woods for a few minutes and sometimes the patch of woods was much bigger.
Getting started after a break to regroup.
Brad was a great navigator and trip leader. He made it look easy, made everyone feel welcome, and was very patient. He is also a mechanic. One person's chain broke and another rider happened to have a spare. Brad was happy to change it and get everyone back on the road very quickly. Brad is part of the Drifters and fellow Drifters Greg and Tony came along. Tony swept the ride and I barely met him but I had the chance to talk with Greg, who I had previously met at Union Square Donuts (there is a pattern here).
Miles for the day 27 (10 were commuting to and from the ride). Miles for the year: 450.