The dreaded northeastern wind. I’ve written about this before, it’s the only direction the wind can blow that makes most of the ride suck. Well, not really suck per se, because a bike ride, by its nature can’t suck.
The warmup was spirited, to say the least. We started out easy enough but it got out of hand when we turned into the wind on the way back. We were cruising at 22 mph into a 10 mph breeze. For the warm-up. Can you say “foreshadowing”? I can.
The wind started kicking up toward the end…
We rolled at a minute past six. Mike and I took the lead mile before it got ugly, immediately.
With the cross headwind there was simply nowhere to hide on the right side of the pace line unless you were six inches to the left and your front wheel was even with the cyclist in front of you, meaning not only were wheels overlapped, bikes were overlapped. Such is an echelon. Anyway, I struggled mightily to hang on and made it. We turned west and the speed ramped up considerably, staying north of 26. If you remember, I get into trouble at 28…
One more mile north and the group started fracturing. Guys were falling off the back as though getting dropped was a sport. I was holding on though. I was still under my threshold. I could see the big turn to the southwest now, and I knew I’d be saved by a sweet tailwind if I could just hang on for another three-quarters of a mile… We made it to the turn and rather than regroup as we normally do, all hell broke loose. We went instantly from 18 mph rounding the hairpin, gravel-laden corner to 28 mph and the group fractured behind two racing tandems who couldn’t quite make the jump to light speed. I was in that second pack and once we got our bearings and started working as a group, we began to reel in the lead, smaller pack.
With just over a ten mph tailwind, we hit 28… 29… then 30 and I could feel it… then 31 and 32, where we stayed until we caught the lead group. It was comical how few we had left when we finally caught the lead pack. I started looking for helmets and noticed that all but one of my friends was gone off the back. I hung on between 29 and 31 mph for the next couple of miles but finally reached my limit. My last buddy in the line made it less than a quarter-mile more than I did. I caught him after a little more than a mile but I had to burn some gas to do it… I had to hold 26 to get him, though once I caught up we took it down to an easy 22-23 to let a few others catch on. In the meantime, Chuck checked his computer while I was catching my breath… we had a 24 mph average so far.
From there, I won’t lie to you, it was pretty much a blur. I took all of my turns up front, took the first sprint (and spanked my arch nemesis in the process – which was awesome), did a little solo off the front when two of the guys up front weren’t lining up the best way to block the wind (if I’m going to eat the wind, I might as well make them chase me) and had a strong overall ride but I was absolutely smoked when we finished.
There’s no doubt that will go down as one of the harder Tuesday night club rides I’ve ever done.