I had the club ride of my summer last night! It was perfect, and more importantly, I now have a strategy for next season.
The ride started out pretty poorly in all reality. I got stuck at a train that was slowing down on the way to the meeting spot. It was so slow, with no end it sight, that I pulled a u-turn and took a different route around the train. When I finally made it, the guys had already left for their warm-up… I put my bike together and hit it, quick as I could. About a mile and a half out I met up with my two buds, Mike & Mike so I headed back with them.
We hit it promptly at 5:30, a bit faster than usual, about 20 mph. After the first mile and a half, with a slight tail wind, it was on… 28 mph almost immediately, then down to a more reasonable (chuckle) 26 for the next few miles. Turning into a decent crosswind the pace settled to around 23 and stayed there. Into the wind, up hills, it didn’t matter.
I took a pull at about 12-1/2 miles and I was feeling spent, so rather than pull in ahead of a few clingers (as I’d been doing since we started) I fell back to the back for a rest… Luckiest thing I’ve done all year, and it was just by chance that I did.
By the time we got to the tough sections at 16 and 19 miles, after skipping a pull or two, I was completely rested and ready for some hills. After feeling rough and ready to call no mas just four miles earlier, I tore up the hills with ease, coasting at times to keep my place in the pace line.
I held on until my buddy Phil decided to call it good going up our last big climb, just shy of 20 miles in. We split off with Mike and a few other guys to do our own thing and lop a couple of miles off of the ride in the fading daylight.
When we split off, we certainly didn’t take it easy either… We lost less than 1/2 a mile an hour off of our 22.2 average.
So my strategy for next year? Hide after 13 miles or so to save up for the hills, after which I can get back in the rotation. Perfect.
I haven’t had that much fun on a ride in at least, what, three or four days. Seriously though, this fall has been just fantastically fun cycling. I’ve been taking it relatively easy* for the last few weeks now and I’ve had a lot more fun than I thought possible. I’m feeling like a blessed fella.
And there’s no better feeling than that.
*My definition of relatively easy is not exactly “taking it easy”. I’m riding a little slower on my slow days, but my “on” days are just as fast – I just stopped worrying so much about where everything shakes out so that I can concentrate more on the enjoyment of the sport.