Pushing too hard

I went for a group bike ride for the first time on Sunday—62km in around 2 hours. It was so much fun to ride with them, but I overdid it in an effort to keep up. I almost didn’t make it home because my muscles cramped up so badly I had to get off my bike just a few kilometers from home and try any position to get them to move again.

The thing is, it was a “recreational ride” and at the end the leader said that I could have spoken up and asked them to slow down. I didn’t want to say anything for fear of appearing weak or like I didn’t belong even though I was the only new rider in an experienced group.

Is this an example of toxic masculinity? There were three ladies in the ride: one in her 60s, her 30-something daughter, and 13 year-old granddaughter all of whom were very impressive. But I think that for lots of reasons I felt like I couldn’t ask the group to slow the pace for me, a relatively fit 40-something man.

Why do I just push through the early warning signs that things will go badly rather than speak up and be true to my experience? I’m hobbling around on extremely sore quads now as a result and wondering why I pretended everything was okay when it wasn’t. Thank you!