I rarely have anything to complain about when it comes to a Club Ride, I have a tendency to be rather blasé about the particulars. It doesn’t matter to me where or when I get dropped, other people’s attitudes, things of that nature. Now repeated poor riding amongst some of our group can raise my hackles at times but generally speaking I’m pretty laid back about the whole thing.
Last night, I wasn’t so lucky. My wife came with. It was cold, just above freezing, and a lot windier than what was called for in the forecast. Not a good combination.
Rather than get into the particulars, she was dropped ten miles out when she failed to get on the train as it rolled out shortly after we picked up the last straggler. Whatever her reason for hesitating, she did and she never recovered though she gave it a valiant effort, even hitting 30 mph at one point with a tailwind…
To start the ride, I noticed she was in trouble right out of the gate. She never connected with the main group for some reason, so when I looked back somewhere around mile five to make sure my wife was there, she and a few of my friends were off by as much as a half-mile. I made the decision to leave the main group and pull for hers. I sped up and let my buddy Mike in on my intentions and then slipped quietly off the back. Mike came with me and after a mile or two we had our own little six-person pace line rolling. When she caught up, she thanked me for dropping but said it wasn’t necessary. Our group soon became three as soon as we turned into a heavy headwind. Between Mike and I and my wife we had no problem maintaining a 17 mph pace into the wind but that turned out to be too much for the guys at the back. We dropped and waited for them twice before dropping them for good.
Mike, my wife and I trudged on into the headwind at a fairly easy 17 mph until we finally caught a break with a crosswind. The pace picked up but only a little, and we cruised on in a comfortable echelon. The last big hill before the spot where we all meet to form up again is a tricky one. You’ve got a long, easy downhill that’s easy to hit 35 on. After that, there’s a flat stretch that goes for about a quarter-mile before it ramps up. My wife was leading the downhill out by request and stayed out front what both Mike and I felt was a little bit too long as she’s wont to do… This, for the uninitiated, is quite normal, and a huge mistake. In fact, it was humorously pointed out by McMike after the ride that I had and still have this problem (though I’ve gotten it under wraps of late). The problem is in wanting to do one’s fair share – and in thinking that fair share includes burning oneself out too soon. This thinking is incorrect but it’s hard to take a short turn up front when the guys you’re riding with are taking 2 mile-long turns.
So I’m faced with a dilemma – technically I had been ever since I knew my wife was lagging behind… Do I give up my draft with the gang and go back to get her, surely dooming myself to slogging the next several miles out pulling my wife home, knowing that when I get back there she’s going to say, “You didn’t have to come back, I’d have been okay”… Or, do I press on, finish, then go back and get her? I opted for B.
Ninety nine and a half times out of a hundred, that was the right choice. Not last night. We argued for almost two hours about what I should have done differently. It didn’t end well.
Fortunately this morning things went a lot better but it’s still a mess. Up until last night we were under the agreement that if she was dropped, I’d finish with my ride and come back to get her. On the other hand, the fact that I have cut off the back of the group to stay with my wife several times has apparently changed the rules leaving me up shit creek (just outside of Harrisburg, PA) without a paddle.
My first thought, of course, was that my wife and I should simply stop riding together. Nothing like jumping to freaking conclusions like a frankie first-year… I thought better of that with my second thought though because we’ve had a full year of fun riding together and I’m not about to throw all of that good away over what will eventually amount to a little disagreement over one ride.
Of course, this is the fun part: Trying to figure out what you did wrong when you don’t think you did anything wrong – especially when your spouse is in exactly the same boat. Good times!