We had a decent group for yesterday’s 56-miler, and some fantastic weather conditions. Well, fantastic for what we’re used to. It was only 38° (3 or 4 C) at the start, but at least it was sunny and the wind wasn’t terrible. I think we had about ten in our group and we got rolling just after 9 a.m.
The first couple of warm-up miles were a little tough, with a stiff breeze out of the north, the chill was in the air. After I warmed up, though, it wasn’t so bad. Then, with the sunshine, the temp rose quickly. We covered the first eight westerly miles at 18-mph, then we turned south. Now, we had a 10-mph north tailwind pushing us along and Greg met us on the road and there’s a Strava segment going into the town of Byron that starts at the top of a little descent and finishes just before the City Limits sign heading due south – it’s one of my favorite sprints in the area because getting up to 30-ish mph isn’t all that hard going down the hill. I’ve been tied for fifth with 25 or 26 seconds for years, and Greg rightly had the KOM at 23 seconds (my buddy, Chuck was tied for first). He’s definitely in the upper tier of the A Group. I knew I was at least going for it with everything I had with that tailwind pushing us down the hill – I just had to get there in perfect shape – that’s a long 23 seconds.
I’d just come off the front, if memory serves, so I was decently far back in the draft so all I had to do was keep up with a tailwind. It was easy going. A half-mile to go, I got down in the drops and got ready. I decided I’d go at the top of the hill rather than wait for the gravity assist to help. I exhaled and pushed all of the CO2 out of my lungs, letting them fill on the inhale with fresh air. I gave it one more and waited for the hill. Just over the crest, I hit the gas. Greg and Winston were up front and they both hit it a split second after I did so I ended up timing it perfectly to jump on Winston’s wheel – I had the perfect lead-out train. I glanced at my computer and saw 36-mph as we neared the bottom of the hill. Only 300-ish yards to go and I was sitting perfectly on Winston’s wheel. I was in the perfect gear. I feathered the brakes to stay off of his wheel, once, twice – and then I dropped the hammer. I came around Winston, then Greg, putting every last ounce of ass into my pedals I gapped Greg and Winston and took the City Limits sign still pounding on the pedals… I had absolutely no clue how fast we’d gotten to, other than the one time I glanced down and saw 36-mph (58 km/h) and I had no idea how close I was to the KOM (I don’t do live segments on my Garmin) – I had a feeling I was nipping on the heels of it, though.
That was just 14 miles into the ride and my legs felt like Jello for a couple of minutes.
Thankfully, we’ve got a gas station we always stop at just up the hill in town so we stopped for a minute to use the facilities and have a little snack. It was starting to warm up a bit so a few of the guys took the opportunity to shed some clothing. And that was about the end of the tailwind for the day. The crosswind miles weren’t bad at all, but the headwind miles were pretty rough.
In a bit of foreshadowing, when I sent the text out that we were doing to Cohoctah loop, Chuck texted that the wind was supposed to be out of the north, so maybe it was better to do a north to south loop. I’d already set things in motion and had texts from Greg who wanted to meet us on the road, so I suggested we just keep it how it was. Jonathan chimed back that, as he understood it, I just offered to pull the group all the way home in the headwind… Actually, Winston did the lion’s share of the headwind but I took my lumps, too. I was only ever four bikes back and cycling back to the front of the pace-line the whole way home.
I was good and ready to be done when we pulled into the driveway. I was in the house after fist bumps and a few chuckles about the headwind before I checked Strava. Sure enough, 22-seconds and a legit KOM. My average for the two-tenths of a mile was just over 36-mph, my max speed was 36,9. I crossed the City Limits line eleven miles an hour over the speed limit. A cherry atop another perfect Sunday morning ride with my friends.
That’s as good as it gets.