We met and donned our gear for the warm-up. It was sunny and breezy with the barely double-digit wind out of the northwest, probably more north than west. Unfortunately it was also chilly, just 46 degrees but the sun made up for that a little. The first 7.5 miles were all laughs, smiles and catch up stories. We only broke 20 mph when we finally caught a little tailwind on the way back.
For the main ride we rolled out promptly at 6 with a great group, considering the temp. Mike and I did our ceremonial first mile before heading to the back. I’d planned on hiding at the back for a bit but that didn’t work out too well and I didn’t fight it. I’m not known as a fast guy but I’d rather not be known as a wheel sucker at the same time. I think I took five turns up front but I kept them short, between one and two minutes. The shorter pulls seemed to be working great too…
About two miles from the hills I moved to the back to dry some powder. Perfectly timed. After the first three rollers I was holding on strong. I actually thought about hanging in with the main group to the finish… and that’s precisely when all hell broke loose.
Normally the pace going up the next series of hills is pretty reasonable to save up for the tougher hills to come but not last night. We went from reasonable to bat shit crazy damn near instantly. The pace picked up so fast, guys were dropping off the back like flies that try to hang onto the windshield as the car hits 40… I hung on for a few miles but when my buddy, Mike hollered that he was off, I found it difficult to stick with the punishing pace so I went too. My heart was beating out of my chest, like a cartoon, and I was way above a maintainable threshold.
Mike and a couple of the other B guys caught up and we had a nice little group rolling into town where we meet to let all of the stragglers catch up. We ended up with a good, strong group. Ten miles to go and we rolled out… I went a little too strong and ended up off the front for two miles so when we hit the intermediate sprint point, I was a little cooked and more than content to sit at the back and take a rest. For the last sprint, the one that matters, it was a different story…
We had six or seven of the strongest B riders heading into the last mile so I was a little nervous. Chuck can keep up with my sprint, Mike is close (especially if he gets the drop on me), McMike is outrageously fast and there was one other guy to look out for. I was second bike behind Mike and he pulled too long. Rather than risk staying at the front as Mike had, only to run out of gas before the line, I took a short turn and fell back. I did a few exhale breathing exercises to clear my body of CO2 (that works, by the way). With quarter-mile to go I was ready and looking for my mark.
I launched about 50 yards early, hoping to take advantage of a little surprise. It worked perfectly and halfway to the finish line I only had one guy chasing and he was back quite a way. I let off the gas and simply maintained… then I noticed the shadow of the chaser (we’re heading east, sun sets in the west, it creates a long shadow). He was on the gas, out of the saddle and charging fast so I hopped out of the saddle and hammered out the last 50 yards. We exchanged grins as he caught up to me 20 yards after the line.
Our overall average for the evening was fairly slow considering the amount of work I put in for it (20.7 mph) but the fun index was high so we can file that average under “who cares”. Quality trumps quantity any day of the week and twice on Sunday, and last night’s ride had quality dripping off it.