The kids didn’t have swimming practice last night and we had a babysitter lined up so Mrs. Bgddy was riding with us.
We got to the meeting spot plenty early and had everything unpacked and were well into gearing up as our friends arrived.
We started out on the warm up easy. The weather was absolutely exquisite for cycling – easily the best day we had all season long and we all shared a chuckle that the best day came at the end of summer. The temp, in the upper 70’s, couldn’t have been better. A light breeze out of the south that, honest to God, I don’t know how you could measure it was so mild. “Easy” lasted for less than a mile. My wife was up front and in her aero bars so she can’t read her computer. She has to rely on feel so she’s exceptionally strong with nothing to cloud her mind. We were up to 22 and just enjoying a great warm up ride. No stress, just easy pedaling.
See, the warm up says a lot about how the night is going to go. We’re averaging 17 and it’s probably going to be a fast and windy but manageable ride. We’re averaging 21 which pretty much means Katie, bar the door.
That educated guess was correct. We rolled out at six on the nose, big Joe and I up front. Normally were doing the first mile at about 19. We were at 22, knowing darn good and well, it was going to get hot in a hurry. We turned after the first mile and a half and big Joe and I slid off the front and into a gap that had formed only eight cyclists back or so… Oh boy, it was going to be one of those, too.
Nothing spectacular happened though. Yeah, the guys up front took it to 24, but with no wind, you could have gotten a draft riding a Mack truck. There were some surges to deal with but other than that, it was just a fast, fun ride.
Mrs. Bgddy hung on like a champ, even when they drove the speed up to the upper 20’s. It was my wife’s night. She was on. Ten miles in and Phill said he couldn’t believe she was still with us at that speed (27-28 mph).
Then we got into trouble. Mike said she’d fallen off so he asked if I wanted to wait for her. I said yes and we sat up… Just to have her rocket by us as of we were standing still. Mike asked if I wanted to sit up or catch up. I said, “No way my wife’s beating me tonight, let’s go”, and I dropped the hammer… and we shot right by her as she sat up to wait for us. That did her in too, so we sat up again to ride in with my wife.
I checked my computer quickly, waiting for her to catch up. 23.8 average. We did 13 miles in less than 32 minutes. With traffic. Once my wife caught on we started at 19 and worked it up from there. I took the climb up the long hill but kept it subdued so I wouldn’t burn my wife up. Cresting the hill we had our first stragglers to reel in. Big Joe and Toby.
Mike took a nice pull, then I took another, then my wife and she got us close, maybe 200 meters. When she tapped out I had to be careful to take the speed up gradually so she could get back on and catch her breath for a second… Ten seconds went by, twenty… I figured she was good and I started working the speed up. 21, 22, 23. I settled in at 23-1/2 and prepared for a long turn chasing them down. To my surprise we didn’t have to wait long, I closed the gap quickly and all of a sudden we had a five-person train.
We sped on, between 21 and 23, except for the climbs and descents but we handled the climbs surprisingly well and hammered the descents. Then came the one real climb of the ride… I dropped everybody but Mike and we slowed up toward the top to wait for everyone to form up, when what do I see but the entire rest of our crew waiting for us! A smile stretched across my face…
We took about a half-mile to get our order straight but once we did, it was full speed ahead.
We plowed on with nary a hiccup and kept the speed comfortably between 22 & 24 the whole way home. Everyone took part in getting us to that last mile.
What has become my favorite mile…
We were a little disorganized, big Joe tried to come up to the front and he had my buddy Mike behind him. For a second I maneuvered in behind Mike but I could see Joe sputtering… Doc Mike and Diane, on their tandem were having none of that and quickly accelerated so I checked my six, pointed and went back to their wheel. With a half-mile left to the sprint it was too soon for Mike to try a solo run so I was perfectly positioned.
I carefully waited for the right time to spring but heard some chatter behind me, something about “box him in”… It’s tough, at 25 mph, to hear clearly over the rushing wind and all of the whirring drivetrains but I knew if I didn’t go soon, I’d miss my chance.
I launched way too soon. I knew that I was going to have to hurt on this one but I didn’t care. I pounded hard on the pedals, ass high, down in the drops and I sprinted for all I was worth. 100 meters from the City Limits sign I was running out of gas. My legs burned, my lungs burned… My whole body was like, “dude, you suck.” I took a second to hazard a look back. There were more than a few wheels back there and they were matching me. I had to dig down, deep in the cockles of my “want to”… “Go!” I thought. 40 meters left and I gave it one more burst… Across the line… Dave and a new guy were so close but I’d held them off.
I quickly shifted from twelve all the way up to 25 and pedaled easy while I tried to catch my breath… 29 miles and change in 1:18… 22.1 mies per hour. A new best, not only for me, but for my wife as well. She stayed with us the whole way, at better than a 22 mph average, on a night where even I hit a personal best. Cycling is strong with this one…
Afterwards we all met in the parking lot to pack up our stuff, we had hi-five’s and handshakes all around (I definitely had some props for the Doc and Diane) and my wife, over the course of the next hour or so, recounted the ride from her perspective. Her enthusiasm abounds and it’s a wonderful thing to see… From someone who used to get a little testy at mine, to someone who’s just one of the gang having a great time. None of that past stuff matters anymore. Sometimes you just have to go through what you do to get where you want to be. It might get better than this at some point down the road even if I don’t know how it could, I simply can’t see that with my current perception… Of course, if it doesn’t, I’ll be okay with that too – this is good enough.
Dinner at the diner was extra tasty last night.