It was an odd evening. A little cloudy and breezy, but decent as temperature goes, around 73° (about 23 C). The 7-mile warm-up was easy and enjoyable, even into the wind.
With the beginning of fall, and the sun withdrawing earlier each week, we haven’t had the same numbers on Tuesday nights. This week, we would barely have enough time to make it back before the sunset at 7:30, so the decision was made to ride with the A-Group until we hit the hills. I was with the few who wanted two groups, because Mrs. Bgddy made the time to show up. While it was a little breezy out, I knew it wasn’t windy enough to effect the ride speed. Either way it was going to be fast.
We rolled out at 6 on the nose. The first mile-and-a-quarter was as sedate as I remember a Tuesday night start being. Then all hell broke loose.
The pace jumped from an easy 19-20-mph to 27 (43 km/h) almost immediately. I was on the wrong side (the wind side) but didn’t have any trouble finding a draft. After the initial mile at 27, the pace calmed down to a more reasonable 23-25, and that’s where it stayed until the A-Group dropped us in the hills just before mile 15. Unfortunately, Mrs. Bgddy was dropped somewhere along the way. I came off a pull up front and she was gone… and nowhere in site once I got to the back.
We did the hills, after the A’s tore up the road, perfectly with the tailwind. I can’t remember a Tuesday where someone didn’t try to hammer up the hills which invariably smashes the group apart into little pieces. Well, Tuesday night was our nirvana. We were certainly speedy up the hills, but there was a flow to it – no yo-yo. Then came our descent into Vernon. Nine times in ten I’m going for the sprint, but this time we were just going too well. We had a 22.8 or .9 average at that point and I wanted to be able to give it everything I had with the hope we’d be able to hit the elusive 23-mph average.
We went through town faster than I can ever remember and I tore off the front to clear a busy intersection for the tandems. It did no good, though. We had cars coming from both directions so we unclipped and waited our turn.
The wind had died down considerably by that point, but it was all tailwind anyway, so we picked up the pace to a lively 25-29-mph. A couple of times, one of the guys up front would pull a little weak every now and again and a tandem would shoot up from the back to correct the pace. We rolled hard for the finish line. Our group at the start was 30-strong and we were down to, after ten or so from the A Group split, around ten or twelve with two tandems.
The home stretch
Our pace, after the final intersection and two-and-a-half miles from the finish, steadily increased from 24-mph to a crescendo of more than 30. We’d smashed through the 23-mph barrier miles ago, but at 30-mph, there just isn’t time to think about anything but staying with the pack. I’d wanted to go for the sprint, after skipping the intermediate sprint to help keep the pace up, but it just wasn’t in the cards. The tandem couple in front of me tapped out at 27-mph about 750′ yards before the finish – which meant too long a turn up front for me.
Rather than try to ease the pace, I took the job of lead-out. I put the hammer down and raised the pace from 26-ish to better than 30 before I flicked out just before the normal start of the sprint. I rolled over the line at 27-mph with a 23.2 average – our fastest yet, Tuesday night for the B-Group.
We rode just over 28 miles in only 1h:12m:36s (moving time – elapsed time was 1:12:47).
I can’t recall if there was a moment during the entirety of that hour and twelve minutes that I wasn’t smiling, but I don’t think there was. It was hi-fives and fist-bumps all around when we got back to the parking lot. Even a few handshakes. Those who were able to hang on to the end had to work hard together to make that happen. It was most excellent to be a part of it.