THE LONGER A GROUP RIDE EXISTS, the more it iterates.

It starts with a few characters getting together at the corner.

At the same time, each week.

Then it gets a name: Como Street, Coffee Crew, TMWC, Food Park, Canyon Velo, Swami’s, Donut Ride, Simi, etc.

A mother hen inserts herself, keeping everybody in line.

The original Coffee Crew was a Saturday ride.  7am start in Corona del Mar, finishing up at C’est Si Bon bakery for doughy delights and… coffee.  Stricky as there, Ed Kurzinski, Kirk Cross, Mike Martin, Paul Miller, Doug Evertz, Jeff Newman, Eric Salzman, a few others and Todd Schooler.

Schooler was our mother hen.  He decided we needed a Tuesday/Thursday work out.  So we did the same course as Saturday on Tuesday and rode hills on Thursday.

Food Park had an 830am start at the food park where Main and MacArthur intersect.  As Saturday Coffee Crew faded out, a few of us would anxiously wait at The Coffee Bean.  Some of the Canyon Velo guys would peel off and join us to wait for Food Park.  About 838, we’d see 70-100 riders roaring and ready to rip through sleepy Irvine.

Now, The Coffee Bean is the start of Food Park… and few know why it starts  when and where it does.

Most of these group rides develop Long and Short options.

Como Long was the premier group ride in SoCal for many years.  100-200 of the best and fastest riders in outrageous colors made the ride look like TdF.  The choice to long or short was made early in the ride and said a lot about your talent and ambition.  Now, not so much.

Yesterday on the Donut Ride, the Long option seemed more a matter of attrition than course selection.

Swami’s Long and Simi Long are seasonal.  “The Pros” drift in for winter miles – real pros you see on TV – and spice up these rides, making them even more popular.

The courses change over time.  There isn’t even a Como Street street anymore – but there was.  That ride would tear through the orange groves of Irvine – gone – around the 2-lane civilian perimeter of El Toro Marine base – gone – shell riders up to the fields of RSM – gone – and into what remains OC’s only country roads.

The groups grow and dwindle, largely based on the mother hen.  The mother hen barks at crappy riding, red light running… and changes the course when it makes sense to do so.  If nobody steps up when the mother hen moves on, the ride will slowly die out.

We’ve started our own long Food Park.  We leave Doheny about 7, ride up the coast and up Newport Coast around Back Bay to The Coffee Bean start and ride with the gang through Irvine and then back to San Clemente.

We’re nearly weekly on this now, and I predict it will be Food Park South in the next year or so.