Five years ago I was out for an early-morning ride when I bumped into a group of cyclists near Woods Hole. We talked about the typical biking things that cyclists talk about: How far are you riding, how fast are you riding, and where are you from? Even though back then I was “summer folk’’ and they were year-rounders, this chatty band of bikers invited me to join them the following weekend for what they called their “Old Guys Like Dana” ride.
The OGLD, as they call it, is named after Dana Miskell, who organizes the ride and happens to be 61 years old. I don’t think 61 is old, and Dana certainly does not ride like an old guy. But I am one of the newest members of the group and am just happy to be included, so I don’t argue the name.
The OGLD ride runs on Sunday mornings year-round, just as long as the roads are not too icy and it’s not raining too hard (lightning does cancel the ride, but only because some of us still have steel bikes).
What do I like about riding in a group? For one, there’s safety in numbers. Motorists are more likely to see us, and if your bike breaks down, chances are that someone in the group will be able to help you out. There is also power in numbers, as the slipstream of the cyclist in front of you lets you go further and faster, mostly because of aerodynamics, but also because we are a competitive lot who want to keep up with our fellow riders.
Riding with a group means you will explore new routes on old Cape Cod and learn where to get a good midride snack or a postride drink.
But best of all, riding in a group means you will make friends with people who share your passion that you otherwise might never have met. As my friend Mark once said, “This is the highlight of my week. I love the ride, but I really love the midride break, where we hang out and shoot the breeze. No agenda, no nonsense, just a bunch of nice people spending time together.”
I am not a morning person, and I struggle to get to the starting line of the OGLD ride by 7 a.m. But I do, week in and week out, both for the chance to hang out with this group of nice people and for the opportunity to win the bolt.
Like I said, cyclists can be competitive.
The bolt is six inches long and weighs about eight ounces. Eric found it several years ago lying in the road during an OGLD ride. The bolt is awarded to the cyclist who distinguishes himself during the ride. Trey once got the bolt for cracking his wheel on the last hill of our ride. I got the bolt for coming in second on that same hill last summer. For one week I felt like I was the keeper of the Stanley Cup.
Our group ride follows the same three or four routes yet it never gets boring. For one, we are on Cape Cod, and the views and the vistas are stunning. Also, because I am not constantly trying to figure out what turn to take, I can focus on the important things, like how fast I’m going and if I will ever catch Doug as he sprints up the hill.
If you happen to be riding around Cape Cod and come upon a group of cyclists, make sure to ask before jumping in. Usually the group is happy to have a new member, both for the company and for the help with sharing the load.
If you are a regular, introduce yourself and be friendly to any new member of your group ride. Remember, you were once new, too.
And whether you are a visitor or a year-round resident of Cape Cod, if you are looking to join a group, check out the Cape Cod Cycling Club’s website for a listing of sponsored rides.
Lance Armstrong may have cheated, but he was right about at least one thing: It’s not about the bike, it’s all about the ride. Once a week, if only for a few hours, I am in cycling heaven as I race around the back roads of Cape Cod, hanging with my friends and trying to win the bolt one more time.
Jonathan Simmons can be reached at JonathanSimmons@me.com.