We started out slow for a Tuesday night, with a bit of a headwind. Things took a while longer than normal to heat up but once we got going, the riding got good. Before long we were holding 22-23 mph, just cruising. The wind, if you could call it that, was really just a breeze. I took every turn I could up front but enjoyed being paired up with people who didn’t want to take long turns up front.
Speaking of, I find it interesting that some of the folks in our B group spend time thinking about what others think of their turns up front. Personally, as long as it’s an actual turn, I don’t care how short it is as long as one pulls through. This became a topic of conversation last night as we were making our way around the course. For the first time in six years with the club I feel we have a very cohesive group that can stay together for all 30 miles without having to wait for stragglers to catch back up or be too slow for others. As far as I’m concerned, it can’t get much better than that, when we’re cranking out 20-22 mph average rides (our club has A thru D groups represented).
The fun really started leading up to the 20 mile mark of the 30 mile route. In the last three weeks, I took two of the three mid-ride sprints. Last week, Doug pipped me by a half a bike length in a perfectly timed and executed move. I just didn’t have enough left in the well and he really came to play. This week, however, the group wasn’t very cohesive leading up to the hills before the sprint point. I found myself off the front with Mike and Jonathan and we were talking about staying off the front. In all my years on Tuesday night, I’d never been a part of a successful breakaway, so when we slowed and allowed the gang to catch up, I wasn’t disappointed with it happening…. Then Jonathan went off the front again. I waited 30 seconds or so and decided to bridge when he stayed up there. We had a nice 100 yard gap at the base of our only real climb on the route and we put the hammer down.
I stayed on his wheel for the first third of the climb and then came around when he arm-flicked me. By the time we crested the hill we had grown the gap. Down a small hill and up another short one with momentum and we made the left leading to the City Limits sign just a couple of short miles away. Jonathan asked if we were going to wait for everyone to catch up… I responded in the negative. He asked at which café we would be stopping to wait for them. I said, “At one just after the [City Limits sign]”.
We accelerated up another hill, I on Jonathan’s wheel, taking it at 22 mph when we normally ride it shy of 20. Then a long downhill into town. He flicked me to come around and I did, picking up the pace on the way down the hill to 29 mph. We leveled out and I kept it between 25 and 26 – fast enough that the chasing group wouldn’t be able to make up ground but not so fast I’d burn out. I crossed the line, Jonathan in tow, with a quarter-mile gap on the group.
I was a little surprised that Jonathan didn’t make a move on me. I kept an eye on his shadow to see if he’d jump but he never did. I assume he let me have it because I did a lot of the pulling to get us there, but I don’t know for sure. I could have answered an attack (I had a little gas in the tank for it), but I don’t know… He’s pretty strong lately. Anyway, that was my first-ever successful attack off the front of the group, just Jonathan and I laying it down to stay ahead of the group. It was a lot of work, but it was definitely pretty neat, he and I working together as we did.
At that point we sat up and waited for the group to catch us, spinning the lactic acid out of our legs for the final sprint in eight miles.
The ride picked up really well once they caught up but the gang held together well. We cruised along taking short but fast turns at the front and five miles later I started jockeying for position. I was on the inside but wanted on the outside so I didn’t get boxed in. I started checking around to find some room and thankfully Ukulele Dave let me over. It set me up a perfect fourth bike back. I started my breathing exercises with one mile to go. I was good to go with a half-mile left. The pace picked up and Big Joe started attacking off the front – too early but I feared leaving him go. He’s in great form lately and maybe….
Two others started to go as well so I jumped on Joe’s wheel and stayed glued to him. He took the pace up to 30-ish and when we hit my invisible “go” line, I launched.
We had an A guy with us, just behind me so I poured every ounce of ass I had into the pedals. I came around Joe in three pedal strokes and at more than 34 mph, head low and butt high, pushing for all I was worth. I took the line by a half a bike.
Another fantastic day on the bike, with my friends.