The weather last night was sketchy. We had a line of storms coming in that were supposed to hit between 6 and 7 pm. Many of our group got a text from Dave, “Tandem is rolling tonight rain or shine! Roll with us!”. I’d already talked with my buddy Mike and we had decided to roll out at 5:00 and assess the weather situation to come up with our distance on the fly. One thing was certain: If we got a mile in, it’d be 21. Rain or shine.
When I got home, my wife and I had an interesting conversation. She wanted to know what to expect so she could decide on whether or not to go and I didn’t have any concrete answers. We ended up mulling over the options and she decided to stick with it and give it a go.
We packed up, aired the tires and headed out. We arrived, geared up and to my amazement, our friend Brad was back from surgery after only a couple of short weeks. Our friend Diane, who always rides on a tandem with her man also showed up with her single bike… So we had an excellent group. Mike, Phill and I would handle the work and my wife and Diane could protect Brad. We decided to roll out at 5:10 rather than wait till 6:00 sharp for the group.
Mike and I took the lead and rather than tell you how long our first turn up front was, let’s see if you can tell where we finally dropped back for a rest:
See that long, smooth stretch, then where that starts to get all spiky? Yeah, that’s where Mike and I went back. That’s ten miles into the ride, into the wind or with a tough crosswind, at 18-20 mph. Generally we’d be a lot faster than that on a Tuesday but the goal was to give my wife, Diane and Brad a good workout without working them into the ground – especially Brad.
At twelve miles the clouds started to build and darken to our left… And we were headed away from the ugly. At 18 miles, we were all still feeling good, my wife was hanging strong and we could see the back end of the storm so we actually decided to extend the ride, do the long route to ride right around the storm. We did that mile at an even 20 mph.
Going through the bigger hills, Mike, Phill and I started messing around. Sprinting down hills, racing up hills. Then we’d wait for the others to catch up. In fact, Mike started the whole mess on a downhill that Dave always blows up the group on. I think he figured, “Why let him get away with a free week on that hill.” My wife, when I didn’t move, yelled out, “Go get him, just come back for us.” Did I ever mention that my wife rocks? I did go get him. I chased his butt down though it was not easy.
With 25 miles in, Brad was starting to feel it so we switched from a double pace line to single file so we could make it a little easier on him. At 26, Phill took the lead. At 27 we finally caught a tailwind (we should have earlier but with the storm rolling in the wind shifted a lot) and Phill ramped up the pace. 20.2 for mile 27, 20.3 for 28 and 21.8 for 29… Mrs. Bgddy was rock steady though I’d switched places with her so I’d get more work and she’d have it a bit easier as the pace increased. I kept waiting for Phill to burn out and head back but he stayed right up front. Mile 32 was at better than 22 mph.
It was time to set up for the sprint. With Mike messing with me earlier, I was going to put the hurt on him. I motioned for my wife to pull up a bit so she wouldn’t lose the draft when I put the hammer down. Real quiet like so I didn’t tip my hand… And what did she shout? “I don’t know what that means!” So much for stealth. Rather than wait while Mike figured it out, I dropped the hammer about 20 seconds too early and ramped it up to 30 and held it there till my lungs started calling me names unfit for print. I checked my six with 20 meters to go. Nobody made the jump so I sat up and cruised over the finish line.
We all gave Phill a huge pat on the back for his emense effort bringing us home because that was something special right there. He busted it and that was nothing short of impressive.
And then it started spitting on us. Not enough to get the dander up, in fact it was quite nice for the cool down.
We ended up with an 18.6 mph average over 33 miles and completely rode around a rain storm. Not stellar for Mike, Phill and me but we spent so much time up front, and messing around in the hills, we got a good workout. For my wife, it was a great paced ride with a lot of drafting experience gained. For Diane, a great opportunity to ride solo for once. And for Brad, a triumphant return.
And five minutes after we were packed up the skies opened up… With the main group just 40 minutes into their 85 minute ride.
The perfect cap to a perfect month. 29 of 30 days in the saddle, 850 miles. 13 and 16 days in a row. By the way, that day off was the day I headed south to support my wife for her triathlon. If a fella’s gotta miss a day, that’s a decent reason to do it.