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Daily Archives: April 6, 2018

You ever get that sinking feeling you just walked into a bazooka fight with a Swiss Army knife? On a bicycle?

A few things, right up front:  1.  Contrary to popular belief, worldwide, it is illegal for a private citizen to own a rocket launcher in the USA.  I know, you hear some crazy stuff in the press, it’s mostly wrong and designed to keep you ignorant.  2.  They don’t technically make bazookas anymore, that I’m aware of.  I was trying to illustrate a simple point.  3.  I was pretty sure that it really was that bad…

I sent out a text yesterday morning, “Ride at 5pm my place.  Road bikes, paved roads”.  I figured one, maybe two of my normal “B” group friends would show but as chilly as it was (39° F or 4 C but it felt like dead-nuts freezing with the whipping west wind).  In fact, I was hoping nobody showed so I could strip off my cold weather crap and ride inside.  Still, when you send out an invite, you suit up… So I did, and I got the Venge ready (the Trek’s on the trainer and I didn’t want to bother with the wheel).

There I am, dressed up and ready to ride and I look out the front window facing the driveway, and I see a van.  Pickett?!  Then I see Newman on his gravel bike (I say gravel bike, because it is technically a gravel bike but it’s a nice Scott gravel bike – maybe 17 pounds, max), and McMike…  My only hope is that Newman’s on his gravel bike with a 1x Drive and McMike is on his 21 pound Schwinn Paramount.  I think, “Hey, it’s April and it’s cold out, it can’t be that bad.”  Oh yes it can…

I rolled my bike out.  We talked about the crappy weather for a minute and we were off – three A guys and me.  Now, we’re all older (I’m the baby at 47) so you’d figure there’d be a warmup mile, right?  Wrong.  Pickett had it up to 24 mph with a crosswind within a quarter of a mile.  I went into oxygen debt at that point and never recovered… but I didn’t give up, either.

After the first mile we turned into the wind.  Pickett kept it pegged at 24 but when I took my turn up front I dropped it down to 22 and I didn’t last very long at that.  I arm-flicked Newman up after a half-mile or so and he kept my pace.  I almost started to recover.  Then McMike took his turn and mercifully took it down to 19.  I was quite happy with that.  Sadly, Picket was up next and he accelerated to 22 almost immediately after McMike arm-flicked him.  Three miles in and my tongue was dangling down by my spokes.

I took the next mile or so and kept it at a lively pace but I eased off a bit, too.  Then Newman, McMike and Pickett again… he had it into the wind, which was starting to pick up.  From there things got a little hazy.  I was the only one who knew the route, and it’s a tricky one (19 turns in 17-1/2 miles) and I was trying to shout out directions in between hyperventilating breaths.  It was awesome.  We came out of a subdivision and Picket took it up to dizzying speeds with a crosswind from the right but I was holding on pretty well at that point.  I took the next mile with the tailwind and all seemed well….

A mile later and the rotation had cycled through again.  Somehow Pickett ended up on the front again going into a quarter-mile uphill followed by a long two-mile stretch, all tailwind.  We were up the hill at 22-23 mph, and then it got fast.  I looked down at my computer, 27… 28… 29… 32-1/2…  I didn’t bother looking anymore, I was just trying to hold on now.  We were 12 miles in.  We were fast enough that we could have been fairly pulled over by the police for speeding.  Then I ran out of gas, just like that.  Bam.  Done.  I held 23 easily enough with the tailwind but the other three started to pull away.  It was okay, too – at that point it was only three turns to home and McMike knew exactly how to get there.  They didn’t need me anymore.  I spent that tailwind stretch breathing – finally.

I came to a stoplight at a corner and there they were, waiting for me…  I don’t think they had to wait but 45 seconds, but how cool is that?  I latched on the back and we rolled home…  19.5 – 22 mph with two miles of crosswind, 27 for one of tailwind, and 18 mph for the last mile.  17.7 miles in 53 minutes on a really challenging route to hold any speed.  20 mph average on the nose, and the fastest I’ve ever ridden that route.

Looking at this positively, as I usually do, I thought I’d brought a pocket knife to a bazooka fight.  Turned out I was a little better than I’d thought.  I’ll take it, and I sure do feel some kind of awesome this morning.