I got to thinking about my goals for this season while I prepared for work this morning and I was a little disappointed. In fact, this year’s goals are much the same as last – so I defined one small addition that had been lurking at the back of my mind since the close of last season…
This season will not about a half Ironman – that’s the icing on the cake, the one day ride across Michigan, the Ride for Recovery or the Assenmacher 100 – I already know I can do the distance.
I doubled my winter training this off-season for what I thought was a multitude of decent reasons, but it boils down to, when the fluff is carved away, two miles for all of the marbles.
Every Tuesday we start out loosely with a fairly easy four to six mile warm-up before joining the group to wait for the big start. All of the big shooters are there, Mike (a guy who doesn’t look like he should be able to ride as fast as he does) and Mike (a Nationally ranked triathlete in his heyday), Kevin, Matt, Brad, Phil and a long list of others. Even the guy on his Time Trial bike, who I thought was a pampas ass until late last summer. I saw him drop back to a group who were falling off the back to give them a draft – he pulled them back. He did this more than once that night and completely changed my perception of him without uttering a word.
We start out promptly at 6 pm at an easy 19 mph pace, a group of 30 cyclists of varying talents in a double pace line. One mile in, the pace picks up. We ease up to 20 then 21 mph… The fun starts at mile 7 – 22 mph, then 23. We have a short stop to cross a busy intersection 11.55 miles in – and then all hell breaks loose. Over the next mile and a half we descend all of twenty feet, but it is downhill nonetheless, at 25-26 mph. We ease onto the last busy stretch of road after a sharp 80′ ascent at 20 mph. I try to be towards the back of the A-pack at this point – too far back and you can drop with the stragglers, too close to the front and it’s a miserable pull up the hill that Matt Assenmacher assures me is not really there. By the time we hit the crest of the hill we’re pushing 24 mph, and then it gets fast. As we turn onto the hard stretch of road, the group fractures and I always end up out front with the fast guys to the back (you guys who know about group riding have a light clicking on right now – I shouldn’t be there). After a minor climb, over the next mile and some change we drop another hundred feet at an average speed around 30… And we hit my two miles. We’re at mile 18 of a 32 mile ride and my lungs were bitching at me about five miles ago. The descent was nice, but now it’s time to work – and I don’t have much left in the tank at this point – or at least I haven’t been able to dig deep enough yet. Over the next mile we climb, followed by a short drop, followed by a straight stretch and another sharp climb again, that I’ve been assured really aren’t there. These two miles are where the big dogs try to hurt each other, and they destroy me. These are the two miles that I want this year.
Those two miles are this year’s goal.
For clarity, I have it on authority from at least two of the faster guys that the group calms down after that stretch because they’re spent – if I can hang on for those two, I’m in.