It’s been two weeks since the decision was made, there would be no B group. The powers that be, those who have been around a lot longer than I, decided we would all roll out together, we would simply add “neutral zones” at major intersections to allow a regrouping and keep things safe.
One week. That’s how long it took for the “neutral zone” to be broken. It’s possible that this is a case of old habits die hard, but that’s little consolation as you’re trying to bridge a quarter-mile gap after several tools jump in front of an oncoming car, confusing the driver and shattering the group (the right of way was a toss-up. We were clearly at the intersection well before the vehicle but we were making a left and there wasn’t enough time for all of us to get through without making the oncoming truck wait… because there were 20 of us and one car, we should have let the truck go – I always go with the “you never win in a fight for space with a car” rule).
The good news is the pace was taken down from a blustery 28-29 mph, to 27 also. Yippee.
I did last ten miles at least. I could have gone longer but I didn’t hide. I decided to take my lumps and my turns at the front. I took four turns in those ten miles and a whole lot longer than I should have on two of them. We lost at least fifteen people from the group before I went, as is quite normal. The only B guy left with the group was Phill and he never got close to the front.
I had a choice to make… I was able to roll out at a pretty fair pace, 21-23 mph, even into a fair crosswind but there were a couple of guys within shouting distance and if I waited a minute I could split my load three ways. I waited. Unfortunately they were a couple of slower guys but I decided not to care and take a lot of time up front and pull them home… We also saw two more just a half-mile back so when those two caught up we decided to soft pedal and hold up for the other two… That’s when Phill came up over the horizon riding back towards us.
Long story short, we ended up with four of us all counted (the other two never made it before we decided to roll out, we grew tired of waiting after a couple of miles and they hadn’t really gained on us. We ended up with just under a 20 mph average pace but it was really a lackluster ride… It was missing something (other than about 2 mph).
I talked to a few others and we decided to do a B ride next week, regardless of the powers that be. We’re going to wait a minute or two and then pick up the stragglers as we go along. I’m reminded of the old Dirty Harry line, “A man’s got to know his limitations”. I know mine and a 24-25 mph average with time up front is beyond the limit.
One interesting, recurring, thought I have on this is how tough it is to hang once I’ve hit my threshold… Once my breathing is blown, I’m pretty much cooked and there isn’t much I can do about it. I’ve tried for years to expand it, and I’ve come a long way – but going from a 22 mph average pace to a 24 is a pretty big leap (especially considering I already went from 19.5 to 22 in that time).
Either way, it’s good times and noodle salad this weekend! More on that later…