The weather wasn’t perfect, cloudy and even a little misty at times, a little cool at 60 degrees, but that’s a good thing because the wind was a paltry 4 mph out of the west(ish – a little south to it).
We’re starting earlier now, we simply can’t get the 30 miles in before dark starting at 6:00. 5:45 tonight, 5:30 next week for two… and then we’re done for the year.
After taking four days off for hunting, I had no idea how my legs would react but I was nervous… I haven’t missed four days in the last four months combined. Now, I rode yesterday, slow to spin my legs back up, but it felt like I was fighting my legs even at just 19 mph for the warm up. It was exceptionally odd, knowing that I can ride faster, easier, but my legs just weren’t cooperating.
We were off, a couple of minutes late to wait for TT guy. He must not have gotten the memo that we were starting early. We were headed dead into the wind and it was a bit of a struggle maintaining 19. Mike and I dropped back after a mile for a little shelter, before making a right. The pace was bumped up to a reasonable 24 mph and that’s when my legs finally loosened up.
It’s surprising when I look back over the last few years, that 24 was easy. Not too long ago I would be pushing hard to keep up at that speed. 26 was taxing and 28 was all I could handle for a mile or two. Today we have stretches in the 30’s and I’m still okay (though I can’t hold that for long).
My wife was with us last night and about six or seven miles in, I noticed her just off the back so, even though I’d just gotten done with a pull up front, I dropped back to bring her back up. She only lasted a half-mile longer before hollering to me that she was going to opt for the short route, that I was free to ride my ride – and that, I did.
After yet another pull up front (I really took my share of turns last night), I fell back and bam… That fast, a gap formed between eight of us and the lead group. I thought about jumping up and bridging it, I could have, but I chose to sit back and ride with my friends instead. I knew we had a healthy group.
We rolled at 20-22 mph into an ugly headwind that shouldn’t have been so ugly… Finally, we hit a tailwind and the pace picked up considerably. There were a couple of cool, notable things going on in the group yesterday… First, we had both noobs from last week – and TT-guy had taken to heart what we talked about. He was noticeably better, which meant the group was able to work together rather than fight to stay together. Also, that second noob that we dropped in the hills the week before had figured out that he had to stay ahead of TT-guy so that when he let the inevitable gap form, Noob #2 wasn’t a casualty… So he was riding more comfortably as well. It wasn’t perfect but it was a lot better, at least from my perspective. We also had picked up a third guy that I’d never met before. He certainly didn’t ride like a noob and he pulled like a mule so we were more than happy to get behind him and let him roll. I have no doubt we owe at least two-tenths of a mile an hour on our average to him alone. His only weakness was hills. Being a bigger guy, he struggled mightily whenever we hit a hill. Toward the end of the ride, he’d shoot off the front before a hill so he could take it at his pace and let us catch him at the top. Interesting strategy, I’d never seen that done successfully.
This week, my buddy Mike led me out for the sprint, which was kinda neat. He took me up to 27-28 mph and I was able to shoot off the front at almost 32 mph before I really even put much @$$ into it and we rolled into town with a solid 21 mph average – just enough to feel like we worked hard, but not so much that I struggled at any point to keep up.
It was pretty close to a perfect night, at least good enough for government work. Still, that four days off really knocked me down a level. The ride was a little tougher than it should have been. Of course, it wasn’t bad enough that when a few of the guys asked who wanted to do the 100k Tour de Livingston this coming Sunday that I didn’t volunteer us immediately. Of course I jumped at that… And so did Mrs. Bgddy. Now that’s going to be fun… One of the rest stops is at an apple orchard – hot cider and donuts, oh my!