Of course I am that tired… I only have to ride this evening to make it the full month of July without a day off and too many personal bests to count. That didn’t mean I couldn’t knuckle down for one more big ride before taking a couple of needed days off, either…
I expected to drop from last evening’s festivities. Actually, I seriously thought about skipping, first… I could have stayed home. I threw that stupid thought right in the frickin’ garbage can, though. If I was going to drop, I was going to do it right. I packed my stuff and headed for the high school.
I chose a short three mile warm-up with a nice climb at the beginning. I went up easy last week and still got a Strava 9th Place Cup. I wanted give it a real try to see what I could do. Man, it was a bear of a little hill. I put the power down and up I went. I was good for about 3/4’s of the hill but I ran out of gas and had to spin up the rest… still, I felt I was pretty quick compared to last week. I wouldn’t know how I did till I uploaded it after the main ride…
Another couple of miles and I was back in the parking lot of the high school to start. We rolled out… and somehow I ended up out front. I was trying to hide. Kinda. I pulled for the next mile and three quarters. Because I’m an idiot.
We headed south with a tasty tailwind. We had four guys who’d pull and three or four more who seemed content to sit in. One, who I’d never met, was of the yo-yo variety. He’d catch up to the group… then leave a gap… and catch up… and coast until he had another gap… I can’t stand this… I timed his gap and went around him. You end up working twice as hard with that yo-yo crap. After that, I stayed to the front of the rotation which made it pretty ugly for me. There were more than a few times I thought about dropping but I stuck with it.
We hit a segment titled “full gas” heading down old US-23 (the service drive) with that 8-mph tailwind and the pace was incredible. We averaged, for the two mile stretch, just shy of 30-mph. Mike was up front (after having bailed me out when I left a bike-and-a-half gap in the Lake Shannon subdivision up a hill), so as soon as he started bleeding speed, I came around. At this point we only had five with the group so I gave him a few seconds to latch on and hit the gas. I took it up to 34-ish-mph before coming to a four-way stop sign and slowing down. We were immediately back on the gas and pushing it hard for the turn-around. And headwind.
The hill climbing north, after the turnaround is brutal with a tailwind. It was nasty with a headwind, but Craig made short work of it. It starts off at 7.5% but levels off a little bit after that initial punch in the face. We started up at 15-mph and took it up to 20 by the time we hit the top.
I took the next mile at 22-23-mph, still with a slight grade and into the wind. I’d gather that was one of my best pulls this year. After flicking off, drifting to the back of our six-man pack, Doc Mike didn’t say a word – he simply stuck his fist out for me to bump it as I went back.
I gotta tell you, I felt pretty stoked about that as I gave him a quick bump.
I was in for the rest of the ride after that. It was an ugly slog north but we held our pace well. It seemed the wind was dying down just a little bit also. I think we all wanted to hit that 22-mph average. We were operating like a finely tuned machine and the miles were ticking by. We came to the last hill. It ramps all the way up to 18% halfway up and it’s brutal (in all fairness, it’s only 18% for a second, 12% for another few, and 7-8% for most). I’d already made my mind up to sit up when I hit it but I was at that 22-mph average and I wanted to give it everything I had to keep it. The descent down the back is fast, so there was a chance… I cracked about three-quarters of the way up. I still managed a 12-mph average up that sucker. It sucked.
I hammered the descent as best I could, but I was pretty cooked. The best I could do coming across the City Limits sign was 21.9-mph for the average. Another PR, and my God was it fun.
It was all hi-five’s and good stories back in the parking lot. Another fun evening, a good time had by all.
Friends, I’ve gotta tell you; it never gets old.
Incidentally, I picked up a solid 5th overall on that warm-up climb.