Know, oh prince, that between the years when the oceans drank Atlantis and the gleaming cities, and the years of the rise of the Sons of Aryas, there was an Age undreamed of, when shining kingdoms lay spread across the world like blue mantles beneath the stars. Hither came Mary Maroon, brown-haired, sullen-eyed, bike in hand, a hammer, a reaver, a slayer, with gigantic melancholies and a great sprint, to tread the jeweled races of the NCNCA under her cycling cleats. But first, hear of her exploits on the Sacramento River Ride.....
Brian Agnell, James Pedely and Chuck Hutcheson fostered me into the River Ride. It took them a little while but when I finally did my first, I was hooked. Try to find a Sacto cyclist who doesn't share the same sentiment. My first ride however, wasn't nearly as important as every consecutive ride afterward.
The River Ride was hard & fast. I didn't have friends in the back. So I had to work to get to the front. I don't remember how long it took but every single time I made it a little further before getting dropped. One day I would be at the front the entire ride. I would work all the way to the sprint. I would sprint with my friends. That day would be so amazing.
Until then, I earned my spot in the draft by getting dropped every week & being pushed into the wind: sometimes on purpose, sometimes because of my lack of skill. By being told blatantly to give up or try an easy ride. By being intentionally crashed out and having to take a week off of work because I'd lost so much skin.
But I was also encouraged and nurtured. I idolized Linda Elgart for being the only other woman I had seen on the ride. She was good at positioning and graceful. I put all my energy into marking her wheel for as long as I could and she wouldn't get annoyed with me.
I was taught to ride by Mike Sayers and Chris Horner. I focused intently on their every hip twitch and ankle stroke because they were so damn smooth. Finally another girl showed up! Flavia Olivaria moved to town and it was like I had a play mate on the road. Years later, she would turn out to be my Vanderkitten teammate. I earned the respect of the good guys because I would never give up. I eventually earned the respect of the bad guys because I could beat them. That and the good guys stuck up for me. I was treated like an equal.
The ride has changed just a little since I used to do it all the time. The route is a little different. It seems shorter. Last week I road out with guys I hadn't seen in years. It was a nice reunion I got third in the sprint! I've been on every single group ride from Chico to Fresno and firmly maintain the the River Ride is the best one of all. The sheer number of riders, the scenery, the quality of riders, the drama, the terrain and weather & how a rider can develop with the ride;
The River Ride is hands down the best group ride in Northern California.