We’ve had some rough Tuesday nights this year, but last night wasn’t one of them. Perfectly blue skies, a breeze so mild, I couldn’t tell where it was coming from, and a perfect 68° (20 C).
Amazing for October.
We rolled at 5:30, to beat the fading light, just behind the A Group… there was talk of going together but the tandems up front didn’t seem interested in chasing the A Group, about 15 seconds ahead of us, down.
What followed was the smoothest TNCR I can remember.
Rather than kick the speed up all in a hurry, it was a gradual crescendo that allowed the whole group to work together, rather than hold on for dear life. The speed rose from 18 to 24-mph (38-kmh) in the first two miles, then from 24 to 27 (43-kmh)… and it stayed in that 22-27-mph range until we hit the hills.
As I would get to the front, I could feel the drag increase. At the back, maintaining 24-mph took a few pedal strokes and a short coast, a few more and a coast. Up front, say the front three bikes, it was some work. Front bike at 25-27-mph was plain old hard. Turns up front were short and sweet.
At our 20-mile turn, the pace ratcheted up in a hurry after our regular regroup. We were climbing the last real hill on the route at better than 20-mph and the trip down the back, we were up to 32-mph. I ended up at the front to take the lead out for the first sprint. I didn’t fret about it and did my duty, leading the gang out at 30-mph on flat pavement.
The last eight miles can get a little punchy so I prepared myself for it mentally. I needn’t have bothered. Uphills were quick but steady, downhills were fast, and anything on the flat was spirited.
Coming into the home stretch, the two guys up front were dogging it a little bit at 22-mph. I was wondering what was going on up there, when Dave and his wife blew by on the left. I shouted out to the guys at the front that it was time to pick it up and the pace went from an easy 22 to a more apropos 27-28. We rolled across the line with a 22.8-mph average (I showed 22.6 because I got across two busy intersections and had to soft pedal for the group to catch up). My buddy, Chuck even had 22.9. Our fastest unassisted B Group average for the 28-mile route.
It was hi-fives and handshakes back in the parking lot. More than normal, because everyone knew, deep down, that these days were numbered. We all know what’s around the corner. I can say this, though; dinner was extra tasty.