The Assenmacher pre-ride is normally a celebration of cycling, with only the “B” riders in attendance. We ride along at a comfortable 19 mph average pace (that translates to 21-22 mph actual when you factor in traffic stops). We check the route for bad potholes and intersections with excessive gravel to clean up, and we ride, laugh and talk about goings on in our lives.
Last year they pulled into the bike shop with a 19.1 average (I was on vacation). The year before we were close to 19 as well. The year before, well I can’t remember exactly but it was close to or just below 19. This year I was expecting the same – a hundred fairly easy miles, a can of Coke or two, and a Subway sub at 75 miles. Three things messed up our 19 average this year: Scott, Dave and Winston.
Remember that comment I made about being a “B” cyclist? Dave and Scott are “A’s” and Winston is a solid “B+”. Our first eight miles were at a very reasonable 19 to 21, but after the initial, “Hi, how ya doin’?” It was all business. Within a few miles we were flirting with 25.
Oh, sure we’d take it back down to a more reasonable 22-23 when we had two of us up front but who wants to be a wuss in front of the big dogs? Within 30 miles some of the guys were hurting. Brad hung on but Phill was cooked (he was under the weather), all of the slower crowd was gone…
We started a bit of a revolt. On any Tuesday it’s our job to keep up and help the best we can. We know, going in, that it’s either keep up or get dropped. We also know we’re only talking about 30 miles, not 100. Getting blown up on a century, 30 or 40 miles from home is very different from dropping from the club ride ten miles from home at any given point. We managed to pull the reigns on the racers for a few miles but eventually they’d crank the speed back up beyond our 25 mph threshold and one of us would talk them back again. This had to be frustrating for them, just as much as it was for us. Once you get used to a certain speed and a certain cadence, it can be tough to go slower, almost as hard as going faster for us. Still, we weren’t about to let ourselves suffer for the second half of a century for anyone.
Fortunately Dave had planned to cut it short to do the metric century so that only left us with Scott and Winston and we managed to keep them in check, even if we were a couple of miles an hour over our normal happy speed every now and again. Personally, I was doing well all the way up until the 70 mile mark. I had been hydrating well, between Hammer Heed, Perpetuem and then Gatorade. I’d fueled well, between a Payday and a couple of gels and my muscles were feeling quite good because I’d gone for a full massage the day before. Others weren’t fairing so well. One of the Chuck’s dropped due to major cramping, Matt dropped with him so he could take his time heading back with chuck and Allen was struggling to hang on at the back. Then Winston popped a tire on a nail going over a train track – the nail went straight through his tire. A few of us waited up the block in the shade for Chuck, Mike and Winston to get the tire fixed but when it took more than ten minutes I went down to investigate. It turned out, Winston has 808 Zipp wheels (the ultra deep-section aero wheels – 80 mm) and they require a special tube that allows for a presta extension…and he’d worn a hole in his spare tube in his back pocket. In other words, even though we all had spare tubes on us, they wouldn’t work in his rim. Winston hadn’t brought his phone with him so Chuck ended up getting Scott’s number (he’d stopped to see his girlfriend while we ate) and who also runs deep section Mad Fiber wheels, for a hand. The rest of us headed over to Subway to eat lunch, with just 24 miles to go.
After a half-hour Scott and Winston hadn’t shown up yet so we rolled out. Mike, Chuck, me and two other guys. We kept it at a steady 18-21 mph (depending on where we were in relation to the wind) and life got infinitely better. I started taking turns up front, a mile at first, then 1-1/2 miles. My legs stopped cramping and as we rolled on my attitude improved infinitely. All of a sudden, with a pace that we could handle, we started talking and joking again and the miles just ticked by. Mike gave me a hard time for only pulling for a mile, asking as I fell back from the front, “What, is that it?” I think we had 20 miles to go at that point. It wasn’t long and that bottom of 18 mph jumped to 19-1/2 and we just kept rolling. I did have one thought in that last 24 miles of just sitting up and riding the last miles easy with only four to go but that only lasted two seconds and it was easily dashed from my melon with, “And give up the draft?! That’d be stupid.”
After all of that, we rolled into the shop parking lot with a decent 19.9 mph average, less than two minutes over a five-hour century and an additional five mile warm up riding to the shop with Mrs. Bgddy. I’m sure it would have been much more enjoyable had we kept that 20 mph pace the whole way, but that which doesn’t kill you…
Now it’s time to clean up after that ride (the bike’s a mess)… And it looks like I might even get a day off after riding 29 in a row, with 957 miles in that stretch. We’ve got rain in the forecast for this evening! It’s a rare day that I’ll cheer for a rain day but I’m tired!
Maybe I’ll take a nap when I get home…