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Tuesday Night Club Ride; Very Fast Edition

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Showing up for the Tuesday Night Club Ride, you never really know what you’re going to get.  Even with the A guys.  Last night they were a shade slower than normal.  The B Group was a different story…

Mike and I started out up front, taking the speed up easy to let the group form up behind us.  18… 19… 21…  We tapped out after a mile and change at the first turn and the Shorter Lennon Loop segment on Strava started…  With a bit of a tailwind, we simply took off.  26-27 mph was fairly easy.  We had a new girl I hadn’t seen with us and she started out well enough, poor thing had some seriously short legs… but she started to fade fast after just a few miles.  I checked to make sure she knew where she was going, but after, there was a decent gap to be made up.  I closed the distance quick enough but doing so took some out of me.  I had to dangle for a minute to catch my breath.

Once I’d gotten my heart rate and breathing back to normal, I settled in for what turned out to be one of the more enjoyable editions of the TNCR.  Truth is, it was so fast there was no time for messing around.  Strava says I had five PR’s last night and they were mainly on the toughest segments of the course.  We were fast uphill and we were fast downhill.  The group generally worked well together – there were only a few who were dangling at the back.

Coming into the intermediate sprint we were a little slower than usual, which has a tendency to shake things up a bit.  Following the wrong wheel will mean you’re out of position for the sprint – and the sprints are my favorite part of the ride.  I don’t like missing out.  The group held together fairly well and I was right on Toby’s wheel, in perfect position.  He went a little early and I simply stayed on his wheel.  Toby’s a shorter, stocky guy so getting down low enough to get a draft is always a challenge, and he can ride perfectly flat over the top tube, so that means I damn-near have to kiss the stem to stay in the draft.  The pace picked up passing 30 mph but I held back… I’ve passed him too early before and he gets me back every time.

With 100 yards to the City Limits sign, I went around him, full gas.  He had nothing left to match me and I sailed over the line well north of 30 mph with a smile on my face.  That was the first time I’d beaten Toby to a line where it wasn’t extremely close.

With that, it was time to get the heart rate down again and get ready for the eight mile push home.  We were in for some headwind and it wasn’t going to be easy.

We rolled through town, got through a tricky intersection, and put the hammer down.  We were able to maintain a fairly steady speed between 21 & 23-mph into the wind but we’d formed into a single-file line rather than stay doubled up.  That meant things got a little messy on the home stretch…  There were a couple of guys farther up the line than normal so it was hard to tell if they were having a good day or on a “blaze of glory” death march.  Point is, I didn’t want to fade too far back and end up getting dropped behind the wrong wheel – as we get closer to town the speed gets ramped up and I’m not making up a gap at 27 or 28-mph.

I was a couple of bikes off the lead coming into the home stretch, a tandem, Toby and me…  Toby was trying like hell to get every last bit out of the tandem that he could.  He’d tapped out but Toby stayed on his wheel so Toby wouldn’t get stuck leading the group out.  The gambit worked, partially.  The tandem took the hint and put the hammer down, Toby glued to their wheel.

Then all of a sudden, I ended up on the front, leading the group out.  Scott had come around me and I jumped on his wheel, but he flamed out faster than a lit fart.  I’d already won the first sprint so I settled in as the lead-out and ramped the speed up beyond 27 mph.  I gave it everything I had and just watched as a few of the stronger guys went by, crossing the City Limits sign at 1:13:01 for 27 miles… 22.2 mph, a new best for the B Group.

Dinner was extra-tasty last night.  I even had a piece of Cherry Berry Crumble pie.  A perfect cap to a great evening.

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7 Comments

  1. ericritter65 says:

    I love that you dropped back to check on the new gal. That’s something our local bicycling clubs don’t do. They are all about head down hammering out the miles. It really doesn’t matter if it’s an A or B group ride, if they feel good and want to kick it up, you’re just dropped.
    Sounds like you ride with a better group than I’ve got down here in Dixie,

    • bgddyjim says:

      Well, that all comes with a caveat, brother. I drop back if I feel I have a chance of catching back up… I try to help out where I can, though. In that case, it was early in the ride and I was feeling really good… we also had a slight incline followed by a bit of downhill so I knew I could use the downhill to catch up if I needed to.

      I managed to get dropped every Tuesday for years in our group. It builds character… er somethin’. Chuckle.

      • ericritter65 says:

        Guess that’s why 90% of my miles are solo rides, I just don’t like the attitude of most organized club rides. As always be safe on the road.

      • bgddyjim says:

        It’s a tough crowd to take, man… It does help if you can find a decent group that suits your pace. Point is, if the fast folks waited for everyone who wanted to ride with them, they wouldn’t fast. It’s my job to keep up, not their job to wait. I helped form a group that suited my pace when I got tired of trying to keep up with the 20+ other cyclists in the B Group. Just keep riding, brother. That’s what’s important anyway.

      • Yep. As long as it’s known from the outset that it’s a “drop” ride then dropping riders who can’t keep up is fine, stronger riders falling back to lend a wheel is always optional and the group doesn’t wait. Getting hammered by the strong guys/gals and ending up shelled out the back is a surefire fast (but brutal) way to build fitness! 🙂

        If it’s advertised as a “no drop” ride and the group doesn’t wait, that’s not cool of course.

      • ericritter65 says:

        It’s the latter, a supposed no drop, as the road and courses are all marked, if you know the marks; but once you get 15-miles in, the big boys just put the hammer down. And they ride taking the whole roadway, on the premise that it makes the cars wait until its completely safe to pass, as if they are just a slow moving car. What they don’t remember is that most cars aren’t the same length as a 20+ group of riders.
        I safer and getting stronger riding solo.

      • bgddyjim says:

        I’m going to take issue with the “taking up the whole roadway” bit… I don’t know your exact situation, but two-abreast is preferable when dealing with a large group, and I’ve done the math to show why. First, with a double pace line, “taking the whole lane” (not roadway), you cut the distance required to pass in half. If we use your 20 cyclists, that’s 70′ instead of 140′ – and you should ALWAYS ride so traffic has to use the oncoming lane to pass you unless you have a wide shoulder or are in a bike lane. If you give a motorist room to squeeze through, your chances of being hit go through the roof. They have to KNOW they can’t squeeze by or they’ll try it – and the cyclist loses that battle every time. I also disagree with your assessment that it’s safer riding solo. Safety in numbers, man. I can accept that this can go too far, but not with 20 cyclists. 40, maybe.

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