It was an odd night for wind. For what is usually the hardest part of the ride, we were going to have a nice tailwind.
The warm-up was an easy 17.7-mph, over seven miles and some change. The temp, in the mid-80’s, was perfect. We had a little wind, but it wasn’t all that bad. The northeast direction of the wind, now that presents a problem or two. Chief among them is the last fifteen miles of the ride being into the wind. That’s no bueno.
We rolled shortly after the A Group left and got right after it. I was second bike with another horse of a guy so we jammed the pace right out of the gate. We were up to 23-mph just after we we hit the first turn… into the wind. We went for a mile and dropped back, maybe fifteen bikes to rejoin the line.
The first third of the ride was fantastic, a big group working together. The second third, not so much… Gaps, the group breaking apart, only to come back together, guys fighting to be the last bike, etc. I struggled and spent a ton of time up front, but coming into the intermediate sprint at 20 miles one of the stronger guys came up from the back and urged me to get on his wheel as he went by. I did and took the City Limits sign with a comfortable gap and 33 mph. I recovered while everyone caught back up and it was more of the same as we headed north, into the wind.
I was up front a lot because you never know who’s going to drop and when – besides, the draft is actually better up front where everyone is working together than in the back where everyone is jockeying for the worst position. Still, I can’t help but get a little edgy as I’m wearing down and we’ve got guys screwing the people in the group who are willing to work so they can attempt to stay in the back.
Coming into the final sprint, I was third bike behind two tandems and I thought I was positioned perfectly – right up until that second tandem pulled off a quarter-mile early – which meant I was going to be the lead out. I hammered the pedals, jumping from a solid 24-mph to 28… I gave it everything I had and arm-flicked out when I was done. I watched the others ride by, and one of the guys who didn’t take a pull the whole 30 miles come shooting by to take the sprint to the City Limits sign – and it wasn’t who we’d expect, either. That guy has at least been pulling through the last several weeks. Nope.
My gut reaction was to cry foul. What he did was foul – people who suck wheel all ride long, only to pour it on at the sprint in a club ride (in other words, not a freaking race) are lower than a snake’s ass. It just is what it is*.
I’d gone to the café and eaten, made it home and unpacked and I was still hot about the whole thing. Then, in the shower, I realized what I’d been doing to myself. If you’ve read my last couple of recovery posts, I’ve been writing about only worrying about myself, and what I’m doing – and keeping my side of the street clean.
Ooh, that was a bitter pill to swallow as I let the water rinse the soap off. I did right during the ride. I worked hard and did my part. That’s the end of it for me. If I don’t like the wheel sucking that’s been going on of late, I can always quit riding with the group on Tuesday – or go out on my own after the group leaves…. but let’s be realistic, that ain’t gonna happen. So that leaves me two options; keep my mouth shut, or nicely point out that the group works better when we all work together.
I’m going to have to sit on it a while because it’s going to be the latter option and I would have a hard time with the “nicely” part. I’ll have to work on that.
And you thought recovery was just about not using drugs or alcohol anymore.
* I should add, there are certain people who have earned the right to hang in the back and suck some wheel. They’ve been contributors for decades and they’re slowing a little but they can still hang with the big group if they hide a little bit. These people get a pass. Those who don’t are the younger, stronger bucks. The older guys aren’t entirely exempt either – one in particular last night, left a gap in the right lane in a double pace-line because he “didn’t want to be up front when the hills started” then lamented the fact that others from the left lane didn’t eat wind to fill in the hole he created…
Folks, don’t be that guy. Ever. I did let him have the truth, too.