We finally had a reasonable evening for the Tuesday night club ride… 45° with a tough, but liveable west wind, and we had a decent group show. We’re a month late for the Tuesday night rides to start but let’s face it, filing a grievance with mother nature simply isn’t going to go very far.
We rolled for our 7-1/2 mile warm-up at 5:10 pm on the dot and enjoyed a fairly easy pace for the first four (all head and crosswind). The last three and change got a little lively with the tailwind as we cruised back to the start at 23-24 mph.
As is often the case when it’s too gnarly for the whole group to show up (and 45° with s sustained 12-15mph wind is “too gnarly”), the A guys started us out and got us through the headwind. Well, technically they got most of us through the headwind. People were dropping like flies after a few miles. Having had the rust knocked out of me last Thursday by three A guys, I wasn’t going anywhere. After 15 miles, when we turned the corner for a tailwind, the A Group kicked it in the ass and they pulled away from Chuck, Chuck, James, Brad and me – the only five remaining B guys out of, say eight.
Brad and James had fallen off so the two Chucks soft pedaled for a minute while I went back for them. It looked like Brad gave up and was waiting for someone else to catch him because James pulled away from him. I dropped far enough back to grab James and we motored up to the Chucks. We rolled, the four of us, at a goodly pace for almost eight miles before the group started getting split up. First James fell off, then Chuck C.
That left Chuck B. and me… and we saw two Mikes up ahead and decided to try to reel them in. I took a turn, then Chuck, then me again and we were making progress. Unfortunately we were between 22 & 24 mph with the crosswind and around 27 with a tailwind to make up ground. Chuck and I were both starting to run out of gas.
I almost had us to them, maybe 30 or 40 yards, but Chuck and I were spent and he didn’t have enough left to come around me to close the gap. We faded back and the two Mikes pulled away.
Then I caught a second wind… from somewhere and we took up chase again. Chuck would come around for just long enough to give me the break I needed and I’d pull around him when he started to fade again. We managed a lively 26 mph and closed the gap. We caught them with just two miles left and hung on for the ride.
Doc Mike pulled us home the rest of the way and just before the final City Limits sign he took it up to 28 mph to try and shake us. Unfortunately for him, I’d had enough time to recharge just enough. Last weekend he’d hung onto my wheel and sprinted around me at the last second to take a sign… as we soft-pedaled to cool down and let everyone else catch up he made a crack that he had a participation trophy in the car that I could have when we got back. It was payback time.
With 20 seconds left and the sign in sight I launched a blistering sprint passing both Mikes at 32mph and I put the hammer down. All my buddy Mike could do was grunt as I pulled away. I took the first Tuesday night B Group Sprint of the season by six bike lengths, give or take. When the two Mikes caught up I looked back at Doc Mike and said, “I guess you can hang onto that participation trophy for a bit”. We both cracked up and enjoyed the last three-quarters of a mile back to the parking lot.
Cycling is great, indeed. I love it. Cycling with friends, the camaraderie and laughs, is something special. If I was all alone I’d still ride, but having a gaggle of friends to share the experience with is, well, it’s hard for me to describe. It’s good stuff, baby.
Here’s to the return of the Tuesday night ride! Dilly, Dilly.