Is “Short ’n Sassy” a Thing?

You’re probably somewhat aware that the club has a “Short ’n Sassy” interest group. We coined this nomen for those who like short(er) and slow(er) rides than what you typically see on our ride calendar. Very generally that refers to rides of about 20 miles at no more than a B-pace and typically not a lot of elevation gain and certainly nothing steep. Our usual rides are closer to 40 miles with lots of elevation gain and nothing less than a B-pace.

We’ve had just one ride, a shorter version of the Jersey Ride, with this initiative and so far no one is clamoring to lead this type of ride. Perhaps flying under the radar is our Hump Day rides, which are all under 25 miles at an unspecified pace but they are no-drop. Hump Day has three options. The Lake Merced option is fairly flat but the Marin Headlands and Presidio Hills routes are pretty climby even if short.

Our shorter/slower rides got me thinking of what other local clubs do or don’t do about cyclists who want something easier. So I decided to look at the websites and ride calendars of other clubs to see if they try to reach out to this population and if they even offer rides that might fit this description. What I found is actually a bit better than I had anticipated. Of the 19 other clubs, five mention nothing about short/slow rides at all nor seem to have anything like our Short ’N Sassy. Of these five, one (Grizzly Peak Cyclists) is definitely a big club, well more than 700 members. In the past GPC has offered ‘new riders’ rides; GPC does have a once-a-month all-club ride with a short/slow option that does have a ride leader.

The surprise is that the other 14 clubs offer something although exactly what is offered may or may not be well attended. Typically these clubs have more regularly scheduled rides eg. ‘mellow Monday’, ‘Easy Friday’ etc. These rides are on the calendar sometimes without a designated ride leader so it’s unclear if they actually take place or not. Basically it might be a decide-and-ride: whoever shows up goes and does some sort of ride. That’s the problem with a regularly scheduled ride: you need a cohort who will lead this ride on a regular basis, so it tends to be the larger clubs who can provide this just from sheer numbers or else they have short ride evangelists who have stepped up. And just because a club offers an easier option for a ride does not mean that the easier options have a ride leader, ie. you are free to start the ride and do the easier option but the ride leader(s) are doing the more difficult option. In other words an easier route is made available, period. Rides that have a bail-out option are probably better supported since you can ride with everyone else but then drop off earlier.

A large subset of easier rides are morning ‘coffee’ rides, either before work (6:15 AM!) or during the morning (eg. 9 AM). None of them are after work rides like our Hump Day. The one real effort is the Feather Pedals subgroup at the Valley Spokesmen Cycling Club in Dublin. Feather Pedals offers prep rides from January to April for VSBC’s annual Cinderella Classic. Since the Cinderella is female-only, FP tends to be female heavy but males are welcome as well. The astonishing thing about FP is that their rides regularlly host 30-50 participants. That’s a fantastic turnout. After the Cinderella, which is in April, FP offers a monthly social ride for the rest of the year. But note that the spring FP rides are a training series, so they might start short but they progressively increase the difficulty so that riders are prepared for the metric-length Cinderella Classic.

Some of the 14 clubs offer rides that are kind of short ’n sassy but diverge in some way. For example ACTC has short rides under 20 miles but they are climb heavy. Other clubs have A-pace rides but they’re 30 or more miles; this is similar to our Social A rides—just slightly shorter than typical Different Spokes rides but led at a slower pace.

No mention of short/slow rides:
Sunnyvale Cupertino Cycling Club
Veloraptors (Montclair) [easier pace rides are all over 30 miles]
Grizzly Peak Cyclists (Berkeley)
Cherry City Cyclists (Hayward)
Golden Gate Cyclists (SF)

Some kind of short/easy rides:
SF Cycling Club: Friday morning coffee ride is “inclusive”
Benicia Bicycling Club: TThSa A & B rides (A is 14-16 mph, B is 10-12 mph)
Solano Cycling Club: (Fairfield) Weds Cantelow ride is 20.4 miles, 1180 ft. elev gain.
Eagle Cycling Club (Napa): Weds Carneros ride is 20 mi/B-pace, no drop; Sat is regular 20-30 mi, B-pace
Santa Rosa Cycling Club: has A & B pace rides but all over 30 mi; Fri A pace ride but it’s 32 miles.
Davis Bike Club: Tue “easy” bakery ride, Sun no-drop ride
Sacramento Wheelmen: “constitutional” rides to Folsom Lake and back (flat, variable pace)
Marin Cyclists: Wed China Camp loop (20-35 mi); Mon through Fri Paradise Drive (23 mi, A-B pace but no leader)
Diablo Cyclists (Walnut Creek): Sun breakfast ride (20 mi, flat but ‘moderate’ pace (note: equivalent to our C pace))
Western Wheelers (Midpeninsula): Mon “Socially Paced” coffee ride; occasional A pace rides
Almaden Touring Cycling Club (San Jose): misc short rides but hilly
Fremont Freewheelers BIcycle Club: daily Show ’n Go rides; Sun social ride
Oakland Yellowjackets: offers ‘light’ option to rides
Valley Spokesmen (Dublin/Pleasanton): Feather Pedals