Excellent Post-Season Ride With Colavita Chicagoland

23 Aug Excellent Post-Season Ride With Colavita Chicagoland

After a nice road season, I found myself with an open ride day on a Sunday. Bob wanted me to join him riding to Lake Geneva. His plan was to go slow the entire time, I had no desire to ride like this for 80 miles. I thought, why not call Chip Kent, my closest friend 2nd only to Heidi, and see if he was riding on Sunday. Chip is a member of Colavita Chicagoland cycling club, who I rode for during the 2007 season, my first season back after a number of years off the bike. Chip confirmed he would be going out with the group, so I asked if he would be my sponsor. You see Colavita, unlike most rides in the Chicago area, have a strict policy that you must send an e-mail to the manager a few days prior to see if they are able to accommodate guests on that day. This sounds like arrogance or elitism, which I assure you it is not. We will get to that later. Chip sends me a text saying Pat, the Colavita manager, has given me a green light to join the ride.

My plan is to ride 10 miles solo, meeting the group in Long Grove, ride the Wauconda loop with them, return to Deerfield for coffee, then ride home. I hooked up with the ride about a 1/4 mile before Long Grove; they are traveling northbound on McHenry road. This is quite a site, there is a pace car with a camera man, turns out it is Colavita picture day, and I see the 20 riders are in a formation, a tight two man pace line. I turn around and keep to the white line, as the group passes many say hello but none slow even a bit. I slide to the back of the group, then into the rotation. They are rolling about 24-25 mph steady, smooth as silk. After riding in group rides all over the states, what I am about to witness is a rare thing. This rotating pace line is tight, only 10-12 inches between riders, with no jackrabbiting. It is almost effortless riding this way. The confirmation is my heart rate, the display reads 114. That is correct, 25 mph in zone 1 for all you, watt meter crazy kats. My first thought is, “this is really cool”, with the 2nd thought questioning, “how long is this last?” Well I am happy to say the Colavita’s quickly alter the rotation after a turn as the wind is hitting the group from the other side. This is a huge improvement from 3 years ago, when the group would rotate the same direction not considering the wind direction. We eventually stop in Wauconda to refill bottles, looking at my odometer, we have ridden 20 miles. 20 miles in a rotating pace line that was smooth and fast, sweet.

The A riders waited for the B group, talking for a few minutes then Chip says lets go, and we get back to it.

Now we have tail and cross wind assist much of the ride back, mostly southeast riding as the average speed increases. We have nice sections where we never go under 29 mph with the pace line rarely having trouble or gaps. Upon our return to Deerfield, the Starbuck’s boxes of joe are ready and the group sits around the many tables talking about how fun that was.

Now back to my original point with regard to arrogance or elitism.
After talking to Pat (Colavita’s Manager) he informed me that, in the past, the group had a number of bad crashes, not always due to Colavita members. Before the policy changes, visitors would join unannounced wanting to change the ride format/style by attacking the group or not respecting the ride for what it was. By making people jump through a few simple hoops, we have a small amount of control over the ride, creating a safer experience for the Colavita members. Pat also feels as manager, has a responsibility to the paying members first while making their riding experience a little better than the other group rides in the area.

Pat I attest, this method is working. Today’s ride was the best large group ride I have been on, never feeling nervous because of sketchy riding. The members know each other’s riding style, trusting each other and seem to know the route well. All in all, I rode 40 miles with this group, 32 miles was in a safe, fast pace line. When was the last time you rode 32 miles in a 20 person pace line?

After a nice 1/2 hour of talking to several people and a large cup of java, I returned to the saddle to finish my ride; another 38 miles, mostly head and hurting crosswind, a perfect finish to a great ride day. Thank you Colavita Chicagoland for allowing me to join one of the best riding groups in the country.


Left to right. Enzo, Greg Balmas ( Deerfield Cyclery) , and Chip. Photo by Qaiswar

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