I checked out a bike ride that departs from the Lake Mary YMCA, instead of the Lakemont Elementary ride. The Y is much closer to my house, a key advantage which translates into more sleep. I can even ride over from my house, but today I just drove.
At 7:00 am I found a group of about 30 others, and we left shortly after a few announcements, the most important being future rides will depart at 7:15 am since the sun is rising later and later. There was also an announcement about club jerseys, so I added my name to an order.
We left the parking lot and I found out there were two basic routes - a 30 mile ride, and a 40 mile ride that includes an extra loop. The pace was quite reasonable, and I decided to speed up to the front group, which had opened a small gap. This too wasn't any problem... until I ran right over some debris in the road - a small rock or something. I was trailing the person in front on me in the paceline and didn't have any warning or time to react. I was able to maintain control, but wound up with a rear flat just 15 minutes into the ride.
Two guys stopped with me (Chris and Rich), to make sure I had gear (which I did), and then they helped change the tire. It took about 10 minutes and afterwards, we rode at a considerably faster pace. With the deficit I was pretty sure we wouldn't catch up, unless a few people waited or perhaps the 40 mile group waited at the split.
They pushed the pace to 21 to 23 mph, and I clung on, leading for a short bit. I was quite relieved when Chris took over again. After all, I didn't know the route. ;) We got to the turnoff for the longer ride, where Rich and I decided to take it easy and do the short loop while Chris turned off.
On the way back, Rich and I rode side by side and chatted along at 18-19 mph. I noticed he was on a 2006 Litespeed Tuscany (NICE!) and I asked him all about that.
Total time was 1:27 (not including the flat) for 27.5 miles, averaging 19 mph. Not quite 30 miles after all. This ride was great - road condition was good and very light traffic. Now I need to look at the map to figure out where we went.