Michigan leaves a lot to be desired. Our summers are rather short, our winters tend to be a little on the long side, but we do have vast webs of paved roads that receive little traffic. Our Tuesday Night Club Ride is a great example. First, I’m sure the locals are accustomed to us by now, but if we get passed by three cars in 30 miles, it’s a pretty busy night. Come summertime, the wind also dies down to where we won’t even have a breeze some days. This past week we only had one day where the wind even approached 10-mph. Otherwise, we were down at 3 to 6-mph.
On Tuesday night, with no wind, you can always bet it’ll be a fast night. Last night was no exception.
We rolled out just 30 seconds after the A Group and it got lively in a hurry. I was up front with Mike and his wife, Diane on a tandem. They’re solid and over the course of our 1.3 mile turn up front we took the speed from an easy 20-mph up to 24 before we took a right turn and headed to the back for a rest. The remainder of the night was a blur except for the dreaded Shipman Road. What little breeze there was, right in our face. Things got a little chippy with some of the weaker riders having a tough time keeping a predictable pace – I was taking short turns up front, but I always tried to get the pace back up over 22 (if riding is chippy, the best thing to do is speed up, not slow down).
After Shipman, though, things seemed to settle down and the speed picked up and stabilized. Stable, fast speeds with little wind makes for good drafting. I got rotated to the front a little more than I’d have liked and the sprints were a complete mess (the first one was my fault – I chased after a guy I knew would flame out way before the City Limits sign at 30-ish mph, and I was right. With a quarter-mile to go, I was out front. I pushed the pace and left the sign to one of the faster guys who blew right by me.
The final sprint was a bit of a different story, with the same result. With a half-mile to go, at 26.6-mph, I was the lead out with a train of strong riders behind me. I took the pace to near 30 (48 km/h) and held it till I was cooked and arm-flicked out. Some times I’m the sprinter, sometimes I’m the lead out, it is what it is.
We rolled over the line with a solid 22.1-mph (35 km/h) average for the 28-ish mile route.
It was all hi-fives and laughs back in the parking lot… and my work is all but done down in Kalamazoo, so I didn’t have to pack up and hurry home after the ride.
And I got to sleep in this morning. Oh, was it wonderful. More later.