Saturday’s 70 miler was one of those perfect rides. With an easygoing but solid 20 mph pace, and the company of most of my best friends, with two miles to go I was a little bummed we were done.
After taking my wife out to lunch, and after a much-needed nap, I went with my wife for another short ride. Just ten miles, and exceptionally slow, but it hurt. My wife wanted to get a ride in before our scheduled Sunday 50 with more of my friends and I wanted to keep her company. I love cycling with my wife. I slept well Saturday night but didn’t hold out much hope for having another perfect ride on Sunday. Those are some slim odds after a decent seventy and a two-a-day on Saturday…
I woke up five minutes before my alarm. I ate some cereal for breakfast and drank my prerequisite two cups of coffee. Coffee does a cyclist good (maybe I should trademark that) [ED. A friend rightly pointed out in the comments section that coffee/caffeine is a cardiophile’s friend – Runners love it too]. I shaved and readied myself, my Venge, and my wife’s Alias. Fifty miles, one bottle of water, one of Hammer Perpetuem laced water. One ERG choco-cherry energy bar and one Hammer Gel. My wife asked for and got one Perpetuem and one Heed laced bottle.
We rolled out at 7:25 and waited at the corner for Mike, Adam and Diane on their tandem and Matt to appear at the crest of a tiny hill, about a half-mile east of us. At 7:34 I saw the first helmet against the rising sun. We clipped in and started, slowly, up the road. They caught us in just under a mile and we had to give it a surprisingly fair kick to latch on to the back. Well, my wife went to the back. I knew my place was up front with the Tandem and Mike. Phill joined us two miles later and we were off…
Fifty miles is a fair distance, you cover a lot of road and I ride with a lot of people who know the best local cycling roads like the back of their hand. Good tarmac, light traffic and excellently scenic (at least for our part of the State). We rolled steadily between 18 and 21 mph for 20 miles before stopping for a restroom break. I used the opportunity to fire down my ERG bar and once everybody was squared away we rolled out.
Diane and Adam had things to do so they headed for home early. Mike had been second bike and I was third the whole way so far but that was going to change. Matt doesn’t take turns up front anymore and we were protecting my wife, so that meant a lot of work for Mike, Phill and I.
Mike took the first turn, three miles and arm flicked me up front… We were into a fairly decent wind and I had to struggle to keep it at 19. I don’t know how long I pulled for but it was more than two miles and less than four before I flicked my wife to the front. I tried to head to the back but Matt and Phill opened a hole so I took third behind my wife and Mike. And we rolled.
Matt stayed in the back but Phill would come up now and again and Mike and I took the rest. We talked and rode and laughed. Coming into Byron we finally caught a tailwind and cranked the speed up to the low to mid twenties. With ten miles left I was getting antsy… not “I want to be done” or “I’m beat”, but antsy.
Mike was up front, I was second and Mrs. Bgddy was third. Matt and Phill were back. We were holding about 21 with a hefty crosswind… All of a sudden Phill comes around from the back taking the lead and bumping it up to 22. I decided it was time to play so I signaled to my wife to come up and take my place to the right. I watched her shadow move and took off. The original plan was to simply take the front and ramp it up to 24 for a few minutes but nobody came with so I turned that into an attack off the front. I stayed at 23 to 24 mph for a couple of miles before running into a hill. I slowed down a bit to climb it and checked my six. I had about a 200 yard gap and thought about sitting up and letting them catch me… For a second anyway. When I set back to pedaling, I easily took it back up to 23, so I decided to try to make the break last till the next intersection, about two miles up the road. With Phill at the front I knew I had a chance, he knew I’d be back so I could watch over my wife. If Mike took the lead, and I was pretty sure he wouldn’t sit for me attacking off the front, I knew he’d give it his best to run me down and worry about letting my wife catch up later. I took a glance back, expecting my lead to have shrunk but I’d actually widened the gap, almost doubled it. I put my head down and dropped the hammer – I didn’t bother looking back again.
They caught me with a quarter mile left, Mike and I sharing a chuckle before I tried to drop back… After all of that, I think they were trying to punish me for the race pace – they wouldn’t let me back so I had to line up behind Mike and he didn’t let up much. We turned north, five miles to go and with a delightful tailwind. Mike pulled for a mile and I took two, at the end of which Matt and Phill broke off for home. Jess took a mile then I took the next two. My wife and I said our goodbyes to Mike and we turned for the driveway. 48 miles, on the nose, and another perfect morning to work on my tan lines. In the end, I spent the entire 2-1/2 hours in the first three positions (of six). I didn’t get, or need, any more of a break than that and that is a good thing. I learned I’ve come a lot farther than I thought. Two perfect days in a row. I need to play the lotto.
The 371st reason that I choose cycling is that there are so many perfect days.
Total mileage for my week off on the bike: 220.
Last day off the bike: July 11th
Total mileage since my last day off: 1,424