In yesterday’s post I explained in detail why I choose not to race, one of my favorite cycling posts in quite a while, written on a fluke even but percolating for up to a year now, I made a fair case for why I don’t get into racing…
Then I have an evening ride like last night. I had more fun than a guy should have with his clothes on. I attacked the group solo, twice (truth is, we all knew I’d blow up so nobody bothered coming with). Once approaching 40 mph on a 30 mph downhill. I wasn’t off the front for long, only a couple of miles the first time and maybe a mile for the second… Not much, but I’m a guy who is clinging onto the back by my teeth when the lead group starts thinning out.
The funny thing is after that first attack, I was sure I’d fall off the back to ride the rest alone… Imagine my surprise when I talked myself into latching back on and stayed with the group. The attack was ill-advised and quite noob-ish as we were only ten miles (16k) into the 30 mile (48k) ride and I knew there was no way I was staying up front. What started this whole thing was after a pull I signaled I was done and started to fall back, only to have the third guy from the front open up a hole for me… There were six guys behind him and he wanted me third from the front. I dutifully took the spot before thinking better of it… It was too soon to gas myself and I was already riding on hammered legs from Sunday – and I didn’t bother to take a day off on Monday because the weather was too nice. If I stayed up front I doubted I’d have the legs for the hills coming up in another ten miles. I announced “not tonight boys” and fell to the back for a needed respite. Unfortunately the back was a discombooberated mess. Single file, stragglers all over, yo-yo-ing… So I sat back there long enough to catch my breath and much to my surprise, I recovered quickly. I thought, “the heck with it”. I pulled out to the left, near the yellow, while upshifting… And I put the hammer down. I went from dead last all the way to the front and flew by the leader. I’d guess somewhere around 27-28 mph on the flat and with a crosswind from the left – and I just kept going. I had to wait at a stop sign for a car to pass and the gang darn near caught me. The second the car passed I hit the gas and pulled away with a tailwind. I managed to stay up for the next mile before getting swallowed up.
I was 👌this close to sitting up and I had a change of heart. I simply thought, “nope, I’m not giving up tonight. It’s not happening”. I stayed in the rotation, doing my duty up front, and I felt good. Go figure.
Then we got to the start of the hills. I figured I was done for but I was mistaken. We hit a long, decent downhill where Dave, one of the masters racers attacks when he’s on his tandem to carry momentum to the coming uphill (climbing on a tandem, in case you didn’t know, sucks). Last night he was on his Merckx and he was up front so when he didn’t go, naturally I thought it would be funny if I did. So again, I went all the way from the back and flew by the leaders with a smile stretched from ear to ear. I don’t actually know how fast I was going but the normal speed down that hill for the group is around 32-34 mph. I had to be close to 40 (64 km/h).
Then I finally let myself blow up. I pulled way to the left and let everyone go by. On the way up the hill a few more guys fell of, three and a tandem. I caught my breath for a few seconds and set about reeling them in.
I caught up and we took the shortcut (keeps the ride at 30 in lieu of 33 miles) and we set about getting home with the sky starting to threaten a wet finish. Between Mike and I and the tandem we kept a pretty decent pace going into the last mile when Phil came up from the back and started an attack with a cross-headwind. I joined and went by Phil, way too early for a sprint finish. I did my best to stay off but they reeled me back in at over 30 mph (according to Mike’s computer)…
Now, I had more fun on this ride than on any previous Tuesday night since my first club ride. I should have dropped off the back three times but I managed to stick with it… And it was almost all mental. I simply refused to give up. I don’t always have that in me but at the same time I proved to myself that I’m a lot stronger than I give myself credit for. I was the kid in a candy store and it was a blast.
By the way, for each of these little attacks, I made sure I didn’t leave anyone behind me in the lurch before I went.