I rode with some my wife and a couple of friends Memorial Day morning. We chose a route that’s normally exceptionally busy with traffic, but we hit a perfect storm of quiet this weekend. First, with COVIDcation and stay at home, that knocked down the traffic substantially. Second, the “up north” of the lower peninsula was opened up late last week so people flocked up to escape. Traffic wasn’t non-existent, but it was as light as I’ve ever seen for that route – and it’s a fun route.
We had a chance of rain in the morning, but it was one of those, “Okay, it’s going to be 90° (32 C), I hope it rains a little” days. We rolled out at 8 am with sunshine and a light headwind. It was 70 (21 C) and spectacular. We started out on the slow side but picked up the pace as we went, up and over rollers, never too easy but I wasn’t ever in a position where I questioned my own sanity, either. It was just a fun, nice ride. Chuck, the guy up front in the photo below, took the first seven miles up front and I took the next seven and when I dropped back, Chuck was next in line to take another pull… so I said to my normal riding buddy, Chuck, “There’s no free lunch today, buddy”. Five miles later he took the cue and took us to the buffet at the Golden Coral. I don’t know how long he was up front, but it was loooooooooooonnnnnnnngggg.
22 miles in, the ride gets fun. We were greeted with a sign that warns of a steep 8% descent. The second I crested I decided to see how fast I could pedal down the hill. I hammered through every gear I had – the last I looked at the computer it read 44.8-mph and I simply didn’t want to pedal any faster. After looking the ride up, I only managed 0.2-mph faster that last bit down the hill, but I found out the fun way exactly what my top end speed is in my biggest gear (50/11). I think I wore a smile on my face for the next hour.
At 24 miles we turned into Kensington Metro-park. Kensington is fantastically beautiful. Nature preserves, a huge lake, a golf course, and more hills than you can shake a stick at – some you actually have to climb. On the way up the big one, I shifted to my last gear, the 34/28, the little granny… Did I have to use the granny gear? Not really, but with that last shift, no matter what happened the rest of the ride, I’d used every gear I had.
We wound around the park trail after it left the park – they have a speed limit that I could only honor if I were pushing my bike. I would have to kick my own ass for riding 10-mph unless it was up a fair hill. We stopped at a gas station to pick up a couple of Coke’s and take a breather. It was starting to heat up. After finishing our drinks, we headed over to the pickle ball courts so Chuck could say hi to his wife – and we made it just in time for an A-10 Warthog flyover. It was spectacular.
Shortly after, we headed for home with a slight tailwind. The closer we got, the faster we went until my wife took the reigns and took a six mile turn between 22 & 30-mph on her aero bars. It was an awesome pull. I took over from there and took us home. We pulled into the parking lot with just under an 18-mph average. 53.8 miles in 3 hours. It was as good as it gets.