Tuesday night was spectacular. We had a north wind and that’s normally tough for the home stretch, but for some crazy reason it didn’t bother me too much at all… and for the first time this year I got to the warm-up on time. And oh, was it a gloriously fun warm-up!
We rolled out a bit late, a few minutes after Six in the evening for the big event. The A Group were already down the road when Jonathan and I took the lead and we quickly, surprisingly took the pace over 22-mph. That’s a fast start, and for some crazy reason the crosswind just wasn’t hurting me like it should have. Almost three-quarters of the way to our first turn and I looked down to see 24-mph. Never, in the history of a Tuesday Night Club Ride, has the B Group started out that fast without a tailwind.
We made our turn into the headwind and the pace eased quite a bit as we dropped to the back. Unfortunately, we’d blown up the group. In the first mile and a half. We’d strung everyone out for the better part of a mile. We waited a bit longer than usual at the first main intersection for stragglers to catch up, but there were still a few back. I asked the group to take it easy for a bit and dropped back bring them up to the group. I turned around and started with an easy pace just ahead of Matt. Chuck, who went back with me, fell in behind me and we commenced to pulling Matt back. I dropped them three times in the headwind. Riding with my hands on the bar top to cut more wind.
I checked my back to make sure some smart ass hadn’t glued a cape to my jersey. I did have a this on my chest, though:
After bringing my friends back, the fun began. We charged west with a crosswind for a mile, north for a mile into the headwind, then our Sweet Lady of Tailwind showed up. We flew. Our 21-mph jumped to 24. We flirted with 27 a few times, even nudged 30.
We hauled ass up the hills after a slow start up the first. We were busted up again after a tricky gravel-strewn turn off a busy road. Besides, we wanted to give the tandems a chance to build up a head of steam.
By this point I felt like Neo the first time he saw the Matrix for what it was… I was just cruisin’, everything was perfect. The bike was fast and nimble and I wasn’t struggling to hold on at all – it was something special, that’s all I can say about it.
Over two of the biggest hills of the ride, down to the valley, up again and we were almost twenty miles in, at the regroup spot.
We waited for most of a minute then split as the last straggler rounded the corner. I had my eyes on that intermediate sprint, a little more than a mile up the road and I was perfectly positioned, about six bikes back. The pace started ramping up as we crested a small climb that precedes the blast into town. Too close to the front and you’ll be pulling the group into the sprint at 28-mph. Too far back and good luck getting to the front as the group splinters under the weight of the gears needed to keep that pace up. I held my enthusiasm, fighting the urge not to jump as I had to feather my front brake to stay out of the wheel in front of me.
I launched my sprint far enough out that nobody would have been expecting me to go quite that early. Starting speed was just shy of 26.7-mph and I took it up to 33.4, everything I had in me with a headwind, and held it till my lungs were burning. I looked back under my left arm to see my buddy Chuck, but he wasn’t within striking distance, so I eased up and took it across the line at 30-mph.
Every time I sprint for a City Limits sign with my friends I feel like I did when I was twelve, pushing my mountain bike as hard as I could to cross some imaginary line… man, just writing about it puts a smile on my face.
We regrouped again in the city proper. I did a short turn up front then headed back to recharge for the final sprint. I took my turns up front over the next eight miles, but they were short.
The last 10%, or three miles, of the ride are some of the best we ride. Slightly descending all the way into town, even in a headwind we can manage a decent speed. Last night, with a light crosswind, we were stacked up in a double echelon and charging down the road for the City Limits sign. Just a mile from the finish we hit a bit of a lull in the pace. It dropped from 26-mph down to 22, but it picked back up in a hurry. With a mile to go I was perfectly placed, four bikes back and fully recovered. The wry grin on my face stretched closer to each ear as the pace quickened. We went from that mundane 22 to a lively 27 in a matter of seconds and I watched as we closed in on my launch point. I waited just one extra second and put the hammer down. I could feel the gang behind me, trying to chase me down but I kept my head low and the power up. With a cross-headwind I still managed a little over 32-mph and I powered it straight through the City Limits sign.
I felt like a hundred Dollars as I reset my computer for the slow mile-long cool down back to the car. Dinner was sweet.
My friend, Jonathan, texted me that he was having a tough time… he felt he had too much energy for the B Group but didn’t quite have what it takes for the A’s. I replied that I could relate. We’re both right on the edge, but I choose to stick with the B’s for two reasons. One, I have fun when we ride. Our road trips don’t include “get there-itis”. Sure we ride fast, but we take our time to savor the ride and snap a few pictures. We have a great balance of fun and fast. We get to do both when we’re not trying to hit a four hour century every time we go out. Second, I have fun. Almost every time I ride with my friends. I don’t want to turn my favorite hobby into work. I get enough of that at work.