I say in the title that I love being fast. I ride with a whole pile of guys who are a lot faster. I’m just pretty good for a guy who decided to buy a bike on a whim a few years ago… That said, if the s#!t fits, wear it.
Yesterday evening was perfect. Light, whispy cirrus clouds, so high they were ice. The sun poking through, just enough to keep the temp a wonderful 65 degrees (18.3 C). The wind was a barely there 3 to 5 mph out of the west… The warmup was even fast, around 20 mph.
My friends, it was one of the nicest settings I can remember for a club ride.
Mentally, I wasn’t prepared. Or possibly better stated, I had the melon committee working double-time trying to convince me I wasn’t ready for this one. For the first time in as long as I can remember, I was nervous about getting dropped in the first ten miles…
We started out at a spirited 20 mph into the breeze (should I call 3-5 mph “wind”? Probably not…), my buddy Mike and I at the front. We moved back after the first mile to the back of a huge train (funny how nice weather will bring out a crowd, isn’t it?) to enjoy a fantastic draft. The tempo picked up in a hurry to 23-25 mph and stayed there. The doubt was a nag. I just repeated to the committee, “Shut up, it’ll get better in a minute. I’m stickin’ with it till I settle in.” And I did. Stick with it and settle in.
I took every single turn I could up front. They weren’t long pulls, maybe a half-mile each, but with a train a tenth of a mile long, why not spread the joy and keep from burning myself up early?
We’re at fifteen miles, the halfway point and where this little tale gets fun. We’re just before the first real hills on the route and I’m in the Zone. My breathing sorted itself out with some help and a neat technique and my heart rate was lower than normal for the speed. I feel decent, even rested. Well, as rested as one can be after 40 minutes of 23-25 mph. I was maybe five or six bikes back. The first three hills were easy, just stayed glued to the wheel in front of me and looked three more ahead…
The leaders dropped off to head back, then another quick one and I was second bike and the two guys up front could climb. Over the crest of the hill I looked back and we had a gap, maybe 50-75 yards. I yelled, “We got a gap and four guys”. Chuck yelled back, “There’s nothin’ I can do with it.” So I came around front and passed 30 mph. 31 on the flat, into the wind and I had all three with me… I think. Then we came to an intersection and a motorist decided to stay stopped at the stop sign about 30 damn seconds longer than the three seconds required by law… We had no choice but to sit up. I pulled even with the passenger and he was smiling. Prick did it deliberate. Our little breakaway was foiled.
We regrouped and hammered out the next, well I don’t even know how many miles it was – we were going too fast. With a 3 mph tailwind. I did manage a glance at my computer going up a little incline: 28.6. I still had some gas in the tank but it wasn’t a lot. And that’s when Mike sat up… YES!
The rest of the ride was a blur but a lot more comfortable. I took long, hard turns at the front. Gave it everything I had and we kept it pegged between 22 and 24 mph. I had a close call with a very awesome cyclist who was a state champ at one time. He drifted right into me after a stop sign, but I saw him coming and leaned into him slightly, checked him with my elbow, to stop his drift. We both exchanged pleasantries and apologies and just kept rolling.
The last three miles.
We had a six man train rolling at a decent clip and big Chuck took a monster turn up front taking us to 24-25 mph. Mike kept it going and then I took a big turn, ratcheting it up before falling back with a mile to go. The pace escalated and I knew we were going to have a sprint finish. Half- mile to go and my breathing was as caught up as it was going to get. A quarter mile… Ten more seconds… And all hell broke loose. Gears changing, guys breaking out to the left, and a tidy little gap opened to the right. I’m in the drops, two quick upshifts and I’m out of the saddle, shooting for the gap, cranking on the pedals for all I’m worth. I shot through and took the sprint by a half a length.
It was pure awesome.
Last night is why I ride like I do. I haven’t had that much fun with my clothes on in quite some time.