Tuesday Night Club Ride: A Perfect Capper to the Season Edition (if there was a bit of a hypocrisy on my part)
Last night, after writing that I was whooped on Sunday, was my best ride of this year…
The wind was as tough as we’ve faced since May. Six of my friends gathered in the parking lot and waited for me to take care of some business before the warm-up. The phone call wrapped up, I got my racing steed out of the trunk, clipped in and we rolled…. slow. An out and back five miles and a couple of loops around the block. Just what I needed to get my legs nice and loose.
It was a bit cloudy but quite warm as we rolled out. The wind was hitting us pretty hard from then left and front (SW wind) but we started with a fairly lively pace.
That easy, slow roll on Monday really helped out because my legs were feeling awesome. I reeled in an early break and passed them up to let them know they’d gapped the group at the last stop sign…. We had a tailwind at that point, and we were cruising at close to 30 mph.
Then it was time to come to Jesus. We made a sharp left and headed dead into the wind. Surprisingly, turns up front were kept short and fast and for much of the brutal crank into the wind, we managed to keep it between 20 and 22 mph.
I have a nemesis on Tuesday nights now, and his name is Toby. He’s a really decent guy and a hell of a sprinter. He’s eaten my lunch on the two sprints for a month or two now. After taking a great percentage of them beginning this Spring, I haven’t been able to beat him. He’s like a tank when he gets going, he always manages to find another gear when I run out. In all fairness to me, he was an A Group guy up until a couple of months ago when he started riding with us.
Last night, we had a tailwind heading into the first sprint and I was perfectly positioned, two bikes back and in the outside lane of the double pace-line (or maybe we were single-file at that point), as we made the turn, about 500 meters or so from the City Limits sign. Toby likes to launch his sprint early so I waited, knowing exactly where I wanted to go if he hadn’t come by yet… and then I heard him coming up on my left. As soon as he pulled even with me, I went with. He had an excellent head of steam and he quickly gapped me but I stayed with it. Just about the time I was ready to give up and hang my head to take second again, he slowed…. I hit the gas and flew by him at more than 33 mph. I beat him. Finally.
Now for the hypocrisy part.
I am always for keeping the group together. We don’t treat our club ride like the A guys treat theirs. We allow for regroups, we don’t blow through stop signs all willy-nilly… In other words, we treat our club ride like a club ride (it’s not “no-drop” either, though).
After a particularly nasty intersection last night, about a mile after the intermediate sprint, we have a short climb up a little hill followed by a gradual uphill that can normally be taken at 18-20 mph. Last evening we had a decent tailwind but still kept it reasonable so everyone could make it across. Big Joe and I were riding side-by side as we crested the hill and started down a usually very fast two-mile stretch. He started talking like he wanted to put the hammer down to see who would stay with us. I offered that I had a bit left in the tank after the sprint, so let’s get on with it… We went from 19 mph to 28 and kept the hammer down. Two miles later there were only four of us that had broken away from the main group. This is exactly what I bitch at others to refrain from. Of course, at the time, I didn’t think we’d hit it hard enough to drop everybody.
I also never anticipated we’d stay out front, either.
After another mile, I got to wondering if we could actually stay away. We didn’t have more than a kilometer on the main group and I was certain we’d get swallowed up. We were only four and they had to be twenty. As luck would have it, though, James did an excellent job of coming around Big Joe and a newer guy when we started uphill. He didn’t blow by so fast the others couldn’t catch the draft but was fast enough to pick up the pace to a point where the main group really had to bust butt to make up any ground. He’d go a minute or two and as soon as I noticed his speed flagging a little, I’d come around and take it back up to 23-24 – I figured that was fast enough to stay away, anything less and we were cooked.
And it worked.
We absolutely crushed it heading home, staying off the front for more than eight miles – it was one of the best efforts I’ve been a part of, in terms of a small, fairly diverse bunch of guys working together to crank out a really decent pace – I couldn’t believe we held together as long as we did.
Coming into the City Limits sign, we were at 25 mph and I was up front with 300 meters to go. I knew I wouldn’t have time to get back and recover so I just stayed up front and waited to pass the “start sprint here” point. Once there, I launched off the front with everything I had left (which wasn’t much). I’d gotten Toby again, the second time in one night.
Typically, I don’t like to be selfish like that – but after Toby had eaten my lunch for so long…. well, I just wanted to see if I could will myself to take him.
So, because quite a few of my riding friends have found my blog and actually read it fairly regular; My friends, I apologize for being selfish and attacking off the front of the group like that. I normally like to keep the group together. I was hungry, though. I needed to get my lunch money back from Toby. Please forgive me, and awesome ride last night. A 21+ mph average, in that wind, is nothing short of impressive for us. Nice work.