Thank You, Sweet Baby Jesus in a Manger for the Beautiful Weekend – First Skinny Tire Hammer of the New Year
Saturday’s ride was a little chilly but amazingly sunny. It was a small group, too. My wife rode, as did Chuck, John and Doc Mike… and Mike kicked our ass. We encountered quite a bit of ice on the dirt roads, so we decided to get onto some pavement for safety’s sake. My wife split with us and headed for home… We had a 14-mph average. Just a couple of miles onto the pavement and dead into the wind, Mike ended his turn up front at 18.6-mph and I went ’round him to hit a wall of wind. I immediately dropped it back to 17.6 and on my way up a hill was () that close to hyperventilating… and here comes Mike, “good job, Jim” and picks the pace up again. I don’t know how I held Chuck’s wheel, but I did. We turned north, with the wind at our back and kept the power up and the pace quickened. I actually picked up a 2nd Best time on a segment… on my 24 pound freaking gravel bike. At the end of that glorious sprint north, Mike split off and headed home. I was next bike and I held our pace for a mile. Chuck and I ended up with a nice 17-mph average over something like 21 miles. Man, did I blow some plaque loose on that one!
Sunday was the real deal, though. Mild temps, 35° at the start (2 C), and perfectly sunny, not a cloud in the sky. It looked like we were going to have a pretty small crew five minutes till the ride time, then a bunch showed up all at once. I’d set my wife up on her gravel bike with the tires pumped to the max, thinking changing positions to her Alias wouldn’t be a good idea – besides, it was supposed to be an easy-ish ride anyway… Well, that was a bad idea. I should have prepped her good bike – I had my Trek, after all. We dropped the first rider in the first mile – I was chasing my wife down who get a jump on the group. Diane dropped to ride with Brad, which left Doc Mike, McMike, my wife, Phill and me. Greg joined us for two miles, then Doc split with him to get some speed work in before a race he’s got coming up. Six miles later Phill and my wife split off for home to escape the thought of an upped pace from McMike and me.
And we were down to two. McMike and me. Even though McMike is 72, being on a ride alone with him is still cause for concern. He’s a national caliber athlete and he can absolutely smoke the likes of me, 22 years his junior. Our pace, into the stiff wind, jumped from 15-16-mph to 18-1/2, immediately. We held that all the way into town where we stopped at a favorite gas station of ours before heading back out to mostly tail and cross-tailwind. It was warming up in a hurry, too. I went from comfortable to sweating… the neck gaiter came down and a smile stretched across my face. It’d been since November we had a day like this, and it was glorious. We dropped the hammer. We didn’t drop below 20-mph but for a stop sign or a few seconds all the way home – 17 miles. With the tailwind, even with all our winter garb on, we were up to 25-mph (and that was my turn up front). We managed 22 on the final three miles home with a cross-tailwind. I held Mike’s wheel the whole time (though I struggled a few) and did my even share up front, which was cause for jubilation on my part. We had a 15-mph average when we split with my wife and Phill. We pulled into my driveway at 18.6. This early in the year, I couldn’t be happier with a ride than that.
The whole rest of the day I held a smile on my face. I felt a love for my wife that I’d have a tough time describing, and I did my best to share it with her. We had some lunch with our eldest daughter and took a nap together. We went to the cycling club’s board meeting, then had dinner and went bowling (league night). My wife is subbing for another team, so we spent all night flirting with each other across a few lanes… I proceeded to roll a 643 actual. Not bad for a 175 average fella. We took five of seven points from a formidable team we’d have been happy to split 3/4 or 4/3.
It was as perfect a February Sunday as I can ever remember. I slept like a baby last night. I needed it. Bad.