I’ve ridden my bike a minimum of 16 miles, every day for the last 24 days. The average, however, has been more than 32 miles. 783 miles in 24 days. I’m not tired, but I am in desperate need of a massage. I took it very easy on Sunday and Monday, purposely. Thankfully Mrs. Bgddy took it easy on me too because Mountain Mayhem hurt, in a good way of course. Still I was maybe 90% last night – and considering the field I ride with, that last 10% matters… It was windy to start, but the temperature was a comfortable 79 degrees (F).
Our warm up was light and uneventful. All but two of us were lined up and ready to go when the clocked ticked six. The wind had been picking up steadily since five and that made more than a few of us nervous. Here Mike, Phill and I were, fresh off of Mountain Mayhem and we drew a windy Tuesday night. I had to tell the melon committee to “shut it” more than once.
We started off fairly easy, into the wind, with Dave and Mike first. I was second next to one of the regular racers and the rather large group formed up behind us. Mike pulled off the front after about three-quarters of a mile and we took it from 18 to 19-1/2 – pretty decent into the heavy wind for the next three quarters. As I dropped back, Mike made a move to let me in but I’d hesitated because that never happens… He must have been worse off than I was. I had to hammer on the pedals to catch back up.
The pace was a fast but reasonable 23 mph into a 15 mph NW cross-headwind and there simply wasn’t enough road to form an echelon so everyone on my side of the line ate wind. This is how I like it to start – I’ll eat wind for the first ten for a little protection on the second. Unfortunately there have been a lot of guys who have jumped sides when the group makes a sharp left, exposing the other side to the wind. To make matters worse, the group completely shook up at that particular turn and I ended up in first position on the exposed side. I figured, what the hell, you don’t get faster at the back anyway so I took my spot… After my turn up front I did my best to find a place to hide at the back but shelter was slim pickin’s at best. We were about ten miles in and that’s when I noticed that half of the group was already gone, including my wife and my buddy Mike. A millisecond later, I motioned to Phill that I was gone and quietly dropped off the back. I had more, could have made it a lot farther, but I just didn’t feel like it for once.
A half-mile later and Phill was off the back. When I dropped, I’d secretly hoped Phill would stay with them so I could take it easy and wait for Mike and my wife and enjoy a peaceful 18-19 mph ride, but when Phill dropped I decided to catch up and ride with him… I had no idea how far back the others were (far enough that I couldn’t see anyone behind me, so call it two miles minimum) so that made the most sense. I grabbed the drops, put my head down and got to reeling Phill in. He’s been riding quite well lately so that took a minute and quite a bit of effort.
I caught him after a mile or two and took a draft for a few minutes. We traded spots after a couple of miles and I took my turn but less than a mile later, Phill came shooting by and I had to get out of the saddle to keep up with his charge. He pulled for three, maybe even four miles before relinquishing the front just before the hills started (I did know what he was doing after his second mile up front). So I did what I do when I get to the hills… I hammer them and proceeded to drop Phill. Now, for the noobs to group riding, the last thing you want to do is hammer the only guy you have to draft off of – in essence, you make him/her pull twice. Once up front and then again to catch up to your hammering ass. This is considered bad form and if you want any help later on, or when you’re not feeling so great, it makes sense to take it down a notch and not kill the person you’re riding with… So that’s what I did – and as soon as we got to the top of the hill, he shot by me again! I was out of the saddle and pushing hard to keep his wheel – definitely not an easy proposition after a long mile of hills at the front – but I was catching on. I let him pull until I’d regained my composure and put the screws to him. We should have stayed with the main group at the pace we were pushing… Then he came by me after a mile, and I returned the favor a mile later.
We were well into the tailwind now and pushing 25 mph on the flats and charging up hills at better than 20. Then we turned north to face a crosswind and we caught a third guy. We didn’t lose a beat. Coming into town we were at 28 mph with a slight (very slight) downhill for two miles. We were all hacking, trying not to cough up a lung in the process. We caught a fourth in town and it was a party. We had three more miles of crosswind before being blessed with a tailwind again. We slowly worked our way up to 25 and held it there. Then Phill started hammering me again, almost like he was trying to drop me, but I’d counter and hammer him back. I won’t lie folks, it was rough.
With two miles to go, we were at 25 after a hill and a stop sign. Phill brought it to 26-27, then I took it to 28. We dropped the other two guys with less than a mile to go and it was on – the charge for the finish. I ended up in perfect position and waited for Phill to make his move. Rather than punch it, he slowly tried to speed up so I just stayed on his wheel till the last quarter mile and took him at the line by half a bike-length. It was a fantastically hard ride and I had to struggle mightily to keep up… I couldn’t figure out what had gotten into Phill!
When I saw that my wife hadn’t made it to the parking lot, I turned around to go back and get her. We finished the ride together and it was good. Phill was pulling out of the parking lot when we got there. My wife and I packed up our bikes, changed into tee shirts from our jerseys and went to dinner. On the way home she mentioned that she’d had a conversation with Phill that hadn’t gone to plan… She’d been, call it “inarticulate”. She mentioned something to the effect that she heard he needed to push me a little harder. She meant to compliment him by stating that she’d heard he was riding well…
She ended up telling him that I thought he wasn’t riding hard enough. I never saw the bus coming, the wheels just thumped right over me. Needless to say, I’ll be calling Phill this afternoon so we can have a laugh over the whole thing.