My text went out Friday afternoon to the gang:
Tomorrow’s ride, 7:30am. Figure 2-3 hours, fairly laid back pace to get tuned up for Sunday, my place.
Simple enough, right?
We rolled our at 7:32am. No wind, the temp was a chilly 57° (14 C), but it was sunny and would warm up quick. And indeed, we did take it easy. Ten miles in, we were maybe a shade south of 18-mph. Then my wife and Mike split off, leaving McMike, Mike S (new to our weekend gang), Brad, Karen and me. I knew Karen wasn’t going to stay with us for long and Brad was going to stay with her as soon as she dropped.
We went from 18-19 to 23-mph, right now. Heading into Byron, the there’s a Strava segment and we had a good leadout to the City Limits sign, so I got ready to hammer it. Halfway down the hill leading to the sign, I put the hammer down, easily blasting past 32-mph. I gave it everything I had till I ran out of gas and soft-pedaled it in to the rest stop at a gas station in town.
We stopped for a few minutes and readied to roll. Brad said he and Karen were going to let us get on with it and take it a little easier heading around the same course.
We rolled out McMike in the lead, me second and Mike S. third. Over the next 32 miles we dropped under 21-mph six times. Two hills and four intersections with stop signs.
There were a few times I contemplate riding into a ditch so I could take a nap, but I held on instead… Then, at about the 25 mile mark, everything clicked. Not only was I holding on, I kept the pace when I got to the front and took full two-mile pulls. Both Mikes had been taking awesome turns up front and, for the fantastic pace, the ride was ultra-smooth. I went from worrying that I was the weakest rider to knowing I could contribute, and well. The three of us worked together like we had been riding together for years. McMike and I have, actually, been riding together for years, but Mike S. and I, only on the rare occasion. I don’t know that the two Mikes had even met before.
We hit the home stretch with ten miles to go and a tailwind, and that’s about the time I really relaxed about being able to keep up. I just hung on and rode the course. Over the last five miles the pace started cranking up. 22… 23… 24… 25… 26 at times. I took the last two and kept it between 24 & 25. And we were done.
We rode the first ten miles under an 18-mph average. We finished, 32 miles later, just shy of 21 (20.89 – Strava shows less, but it picked up my walk to the restroom and back as a part of the ride). Anyone who has ridden at the speeds we were enjoying knows how hard it is to raise an 18 mph average one mile an hour, let alone three. The effort was big.
Most people who know me don’t know this about me; I ride with some doubt every now and again. There were a few times I thought there was no way I’d be able to maintain the pace. Those thoughts were wrong, though. Not only was I able to stick with it, I was a part of the buildup of speed at the end.
While I obviously have my limits, I have a tendency to mentally sell myself short from time to time, when I’m the weaker link in the chain. More often than not, if I push through those thoughts, I find that I shouldn’t have been entertaining them in the first place.
That ride yesterday is one of those I’ll be remembering for years to come. It was just a Saturday bike ride, but having the opportunity to be a part of something like that is special.
As Strava goes, I ended up with three Third Place overall’s on some big segments including a 5.8 mile segment we did in 15m:38s (230 watts), the Byron Sprint (30.8 mph 489 watts)and a Fifth Place overall on a 4.08 mile segment that we did in 8m:09 seconds at 29.9-mph (222 watts) – I’m in some very rare air with the strongest cyclists we have in the area.
I’d have missed out on a lot of good had I sat on the couch… or had I listened to those thoughts that said it was too fast.