Last night’s club ride was comical as they get. Jonathan texted me after, at 9pm to warn me not to look at my bike till I have time to clean it. I hadn’t planned on it. The bike is sitting in the living room as I type this, drying out…
There was a Zero percent chance of rain from 4pm to 8pm. Perfect, as we were riding from 5:30 to 7. Zero percent. Not five or ten percent. Not fifteen or twenty. Zero.
Our six mile warm-up was relatively dry if the road was a bit damp. It wasn’t like we had to watch out for rooster-tails. We’d had rain earlier in the day but that was all over, according to two weather service apps.
Done with the warm-up, we gathered in the parking lot to wait for the start. The crowd was sparse at best, no doubt because of the damp (not wet), cool, cloudy weather. A quick decision was made to combine the A and B groups.
We rolled out as one…
The first mile and some change was wonderful. The pace was calm and serene. I almost expected to see a prancing unicorn fart a rainbow.
We made a right, into the breeze, and that unicorn took a $#!+ and got on it. The pace definitely wasn’t outrageous but it was fast. That’s the glorious nature of a headwind on a really fast group – those at the front are having a tough time keeping the pace while those at the back are having a nice chat. We did have a nice few miles.
I can’t recall exactly when it started misting – technically not rain – but before long, we were climbing hills while trying to duck away from rooster-tail spray. The first set of hills were miraculously reasonable, but after a long, shallow descent we were back to the hills again and I was up front. My legs were cold and they weren’t quite working as I would normally expect so I was way into the red trying to muscle up a fairly simple hill. I made it to the crest and tapped out, drifting to the back making a lot of noise I normally wouldn’t for the labored breathing.
I held on, though. I got to the back and mustered a push to latch on and took the next mile to calm my breathing down.
Then there was a decision to make. Either split the B group off or stay with the A’s. They’d said they would keep it reasonable if we wanted to stay with them and they’d done a fair job of that to the 18 mile mark (we were only at 23-mph for an average, normally they’d be at 25+). Several of us decided to take our toys and head for home at a more reasonable pace and cutting three miles off. I was disappointed that I wanted to head back early but I was tired of chewing on road grit and I was quite cold (knee warmers, arm warmers, jersey & shorts – it was in the mid-50’s [14C] and wet). We rolled well that last ten miles and the pace was slightly more reasonable.
I skipped the intermediate sprint because it didn’t seem quite right to blow the energy when we were plowing through the wet roads. We just kept the line rolling. The next eight miles was just doing my part and hanging with the group. Nothing fancy, nothing out of the ordinary.
Coming up to the final sprint, Chuck was up front pulling at about 20-mph when he arm-flicked out to a new kid on an old, steel Specialized Allez. He immediately got on the gas and started cranking it up. I waited till he got up to what I thought was a good speed and went, pushing my cold legs for all they were worth. I’d almost gone too early but managed to keep the push on at 31-mph just long enough to take the sprint. I think it was Jonathan in second and Chucker pipped the new guy for third.
We soft pedaled after that, and took it back to base, soggy, cold, and in need of some heat. It was tired fist bumps and laughs that last half-mile.
My friends, it was an ugly night, but dinner sure did taste good. Thankfully I’d put a fleece pullover in my truck as an afterthought, just in case I wanted something to change into after the ride so I wouldn’t be chilly during the club board meeting.
Good thing I had because that was likely the only thing between me and pneumonia. It was one of those nights that puts hair on your chest. If I needed anymore hair on my chest at 48-years-old. Which I don’t (especially no more gray… where did they come from!).
Stats for the ride:
28.28 miles in 1h:15m:51s for an average speed of 22.4-mph (my buddy Chuck got 22.6 on his Garmin). 503 feet of elevation gain with an estimated average power of 234w. I had a high wattage of 804 and a max speed of 31.1-mph (50 km/h)
A special thanks to the A Group for the exceptional pace – it was just right [insert “gentlemanly bow” emoji here]. And a personal thank you to Todd… Big fella, riding behind you is like drafting a battleship. Thanks, brother.