We’re getting to the end of cycling season up here in Michigan, where everything is about to slow way down… The sun is setting at about 7:50 and it takes till 7:25 to finish the 30 mile route on Tuesday night. We’ll struggle to keep it going by showing up at 5:30 for a few weeks, but many in the group can’t make it that early, so we’re pretty much up on the end.
That notwithstanding, I’m on a wee bit of a break to relax a bit and enjoy me some easy cycling. Last week I only had two decent efforts and even those were iffy – they were hard enough but I stayed pretty comfortable the whole ride.
All bets (and breaks) are off on Tuesday night though. The weather was a little cool, enough to bring out the arm warmers, but awesomely sunny. I showed up a few minutes early and went on a longer warmup than usual with a guy who I ride with quite a bit.
For the main ride the easy times were off immediately. Right from the first mile which started as is customary but picked up right away – our first mile was 3 mph faster than usual and got crazy from there. At some point we cranked it up to 27-28 mph, into the wind and after a pull I was off the back with a few other of the guys, one of whom said, “we can’t keep that up!” I laughed and said (between huffs), “yup”. Shortly thereafter he led a few of us back to the pack just a hundred meters or so up the road – that was the first time I was off of the back. Looking back, I think the surge was to cull some of the herd because they brought it back to a more reasonable 25 mph just after. There were maybe 15 of us left after.
I hung in pretty well after that by trying a few tricks I learned from a YouTube video I watched last week (more on that in another post). I took my pulls, a couple even comment worthy from the other guys. I’ve been bumping into the old axiom a lot lately that to keep up with the big dogs I’ve got to become used to, even enjoy, being uncomfortable. I do, to an extent, but my limits are a little low so that’s what I concentrated on when I wanted to quit (not surprisingly after a big pull).
I did great on the few climbs on the route right up till the 19 mile mark on a slight downhill… I knew it was coming too. I was pulling, just shy of 32 mph, and a semi-pro and his wife shot by on their tandem – same stinkin’ place as two weeks ago. I let a few of the guys go by, figuring I’d latch on at the back… I turned my head to find the end of the line – just to see there was nobody else back there. The herd had been culled again while I was up front. Great. They were gone that fast. 19 miles, 22.7 mph (36.5 km/h) average. On that track, on open roads, that’s not too shabby.
From there I took it relatively easy for a half-mile or so before getting back on it. I’d go a mile hard (21-22) then a mile easy (18-19), pretty much alternating till I hit the parking lot. I took a 3 mile shortcut and the main group never caught me (nor did any other of the stragglers).
In the end, I was quite bummed out at getting dropped the way I did, because it was kind of stupid. I simply wasn’t paying close enough attention even though I knew what was coming.
Even so, I still ended up with a respectable 21 mph average and did have a great time – and dinner afterwards was wonderful.