We rolled out yesterday morning, three friends, with sights on different goals for each of us.
Chuck, fresh off a brutal 20-mph century the day before with just two others (headwind the whole way after a wind shift, cool temps, and rain), was absolutely smoked. He was riding short no matter what. Mike just wanted to ride, but he wanted to join the slower Gaines Gang for a bit. I didn’t care – I wanted 70 miles so I could meet my weekly 220-mile goal and get me within striking distance of 6,000 outdoor miles for the year.
Mike and I were side-by-side and Chuck sat in behind me. We slow-rolled and came up with a plan that would get Chuck home in 40 and get Mike and I to 100k so all I’d have to do is figure out how to add seven or eight miles to get my 70.
Now, I knew Chuck wasn’t taking any turns up front so Mike and I rode side-by-side till he tired out at about five miles. We decided to roll the long way to get to Gaines after some differing opinions in how to get there we picked the simplest and I chose my pace and settled in for a long turn up front. I pulled for the next eight miles between 17 & 20-mph – easy up the hills, 19-20 on the flats. We pulled into the Gaines Elementary School and waited for the group to get ready.
Now, the Gaines Gang is S-L-O-O-O-W-W-W… and the worst thing a fast guy can do is jump on the front without getting accustomed to the pace first, then go about hammering the group until it splinters into a dozen little pieces, all the while thinking they’re doing something good giving everyone a nice draft. Chuck stuck to the back for a bit, then headed home. I remained well back of the lead and let the tandems do the pulling on the cloudy, cool, breezeless morning. I snapped a few photos and talked with many of the riders, charging to the front to announce a gap, then fading back to pull the riders back up to the group. The pace was reasonable and unquestionably fun and easy.
We stopped at 36 miles for a break (it was 36 for us, it was around 23 for everyone else). It was a quick stop. Matt had rolled on and the main group was heading out to Perry – that would have turned out to be closer to 90 miles round trip for me and a little more than I wanted to play with (way more than Mike wanted) so we turned and caught Matt to ride with him for a bit. We had a nice, leisurely stroll, talking, laughing and telling stories all the way back to the elementary school. We dropped Matt at his car and Mike and I rode on for his house, picking up the pace. We made plans for today’s ride, then said our good-byes. I was at 60 miles, just over, and needed another ten. I devised a few schemes to get there but there wasn’t much appealing about any of them. Then, the perfect plot hatched in my melon – I knew exactly what I wanted to do. Only one mile of headwind out of the ten to get home.
Now, I wouldn’t exactly say “I dropped the hammer”, because I didn’t. Mike and I were making decent time all the way back and sitting on a 17-mph average, it wasn’t like I was going to turn that into an 18 in just ten miles. On the other hand, I didn’t watch the paint dry, either. I set about getting home and clocked nine of the ten miles at around 20+ mph. I did manage to get that 17 up to 17.3 before pulling into the driveway, happy as a pig in mud.
Friends, as slow as that was, I enjoyed every mile. There once was a time that pace would drive me up a wall because it was too slow and I’d be too anxious about losing the opportunity to improve my fitness, power, and speed. That’s a whole new post, though. That’ll be out tomorrow.
Today, I’m fast enough to know a slow ride is fun and can’t hurt me one bit. It’s a great place to be.