Good Night 2022: A Slow Ride with Fast Friends
On Virginia and Logan’s Good Night 2022 campout, they head north through the Mitla Valley to take in some beautiful dirt roads, a chef’s farm-to-table restaurant, an amazing art museum, and the best coco de cremas in the area. Learn more about their route and find some suggestions for how to make group rides welcoming and fun here…
Photos by Logan Watts
I have a love/hate relationship with group rides. On the one hand, they’re a great opportunity to catch up with old friends and make new acquaintances. On the other, they tend to bring out insecurities I have regarding my abilities and fitness level. I’ve been on some amazing group rides where it was evident that not a soul in the party felt like anything less than a member of the team, and the joy of the communal experience was palpable even to passersby. Then again, I’ve been on some rides that felt anything but “group,” where, at the end of the day, I contemplated permanently hanging up my helmet.
A great group/social ride leaves everyone smiling. It’s not easy to create the conditions in which that can happen. Sometimes the stars align without any interference, but, more often than not, the leadership of someone who is capable of setting and maintaining a positive tone with the pace to match is key. On a recent overnighter, I was reminded of just how good our friend Cass Gilbert is at doing just that.
Cass may be a relatively new resident of Oaxaca, but he has spent countless hours learning his way around this beautiful state, and, more importantly, learning about the people and customs that shape it. I’m not sure how he actually covers as much ground as he does between the lengthy conversations he’s having with locals along the way and his dedication to finding the best memelarias, paleterias, and barbacoa joints in every village, but he’s managed to compile quite the collection of amazing routes that he gleefully shares with friends. From the invariably delayed departure times to our eventual parting of ways, every ride I’ve taken with Cass is fun.
I’m not sure what his secret is. Maybe it’s just that his love of cycling and enthusiasm for the area are contagious. But I think there is more to it than just that. On our Goodnight 2022 overnighter, Cass suggested short breaks for water, a snack, lunch, or to let his dog Huesos in or out of his trailer. There were also the occasional pauses just to shoot the shit about things that would typically only entertain the nerdiest of bike nerds, but somehow amused even me (to an extent). All of these efforts to slow down the pace, soak in the scenery, and smell the proverbial roses could have proven very boring to the strongest riders in the group, but the distractions offered were so pleasant that no one seemed to mind. And speaking for the slowest/weakest member of the group, the frequent and unhurried breaks were liberating. Instead of catching up to the group just in time to have folks take off again, I could rest and chat a bit, then take off at my leisure, leaving the “natural” pace setters to continue their musings on the virtues of one rack system over the other (see eyes rolling).
In short, our group of intrepid travelers may not have covered that much ground on our Goodnight 2022 overnighter, but we did it together, and we all went to bed with smiles on our faces. And, to me, that is a successful group ride.
Thanks to Cass for spearheading this adventure and to Emma Bucke, a professional outdoor leader and amateur naturalist, whose positive vibes and knowledge of the landscape add exponentially to the fun of any adventure. And big hugs to Huesos, who brings joy to everyone he meets.
About the Route
Logan: This route was loosely based on Excursiones en Etla, a longer overnighter that we published last year. This ride was shortened for Virginia’s birthday as we took in a couple of sights and places en route, including the excellent chef’s table restaurant, Aguamiel, and the Centro de las Artes de St. Augustin, a wonderful art center in an old converted factory. Find the original route in the related links below.
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