I was a little nervous about last night’s club ride. You ever have one of those days where you just don’t feel right? It doesn’t happen too often to me, but it does happen.
Normally I just plow through it. Last night was one of those nights.
After our 7-1/2 mile warm-up, we sat around on our top tubes and waited for the A group to leave. I was a little nervous about the ride – I get edgy when I’m not quite feeling it… 30 seconds later, we rolled, a massive group – well, bigger than normal anyway, more than 30 if I had to guess, in a double pace-line.
The pace started out mercifully easy for the first two miles. Then it was my turn up front and, with the wind in our face, we took it up to 22. Unfortunately, after we pulled off the pace dropped back down again, but we were still into the wind and the draft was pretty good so I wasn’t about to complain, even if I was thinking it was going to mess with our average.
Another two miles north, then two west and one more north and we were on the vaunted Shipman road… but with a rare cross-tailwind so the pace really picked up. I was finally starting to feel more like myself. My confidence came back and a wave and I could sense a smile stretching across my face. I was back.
The next stretch saw us start the few hills there are on our Tuesday night ride. The start at about twelve miles and stretch out to mile 20. I approached the first set of three table tops a little hesitantly but all of that climbing over the last few weeks had really paid off – I spent more time coasting uphill than I should have and had plenty of reserve power. I was excited for the sprint.
We’ve picked up one of the A guys who is known for being there for both sprints but taking a turn up front about twice in 30 miles – he hides like it’s his mission in life. If there’s one guy I like to just crush at the line, it’s him, because I take every one of my turns up front, plus a few extra just for good measure. After an uphill pull at 20 mph, I arm-flicked off the front and headed back at the crest of the hill. Four bikes back, Big Joe tapped me on the back and motioned for me to get in behind him… This is good news. Joe is a diesel and a battle ship at the same time – and he was going to lead me out to the sprint in three miles. I tucked in behind him and got down into the drops.
With about a half-mile to the intermediate sprint, Joe started ramping it up, big time. I’ve never seen that guy pull like that, and I was tucked in comfortably right behind him. He got me up to 31 mph before I launched around him, adding four miles an hour in two revolutions of the pedals. I could hear my wife yelling and that could only mean that Toby was trying to make a run. I gave it a few last good turns of the pedals and lurched across the line, first. I burned a lot of matches on that one, but it felt good.
We formed up again and rolled through town fairly easy. Mike said we lost three tenths off our average taking it easy through town. Still, it’s a good place for a neutral so everyone can catch their breath after the sprint and form back up.
The last eight miles were a little odd… We blew by a group of three and were passed by the A guys at the same time (who’d ridden three more miles than we do – so do the math in a minute, they leave a minute before us but catch us with five miles to go after having ridden three more miles than we do…). A couple of the B guys went with the A’s, and a few (including me) tried to bridge unsuccessfully. In the end, there really wasn’t a sprint for the finish line, it was just one big lead-out for two miles. Still, 25-27 mph is great fun when you’re bucking a cross-headwind.
Depending on whose GPS you looked at, we ended up between 21.4 and 21.6 mph for an average (we obviously count the 21.6) over 28 miles. The A guys turned in a 24.1 average – I’ll save you the math. Damn, every time I find out how fast they ride that course, I’m glad we’ve got our little rabble of a B group. That’s fast, baby.
Anyway, dinner was extra tasty last night. There were high-five’s all around, especially for my wife who finished with north of a 21 mph average for the course – the only chick strong enough to hang with us last night. While I have my fun, nothing makes me happier than seeing that look of “holy $#!+, I actually stayed with the group the whole way” look on my wife’s face after a great ride.
The other stuff was great, and you know I love the ride, but my wife made the night. And that is as good as it gets.