The night started off, humorously enough, with a discussion of politics – but this was a good discussion, like one of those discussions we’re supposed to have. It was the beginning of a discussion that could fix the country if the political class were adults and spoke like we did. When it was time to ride, though, my friend moved to the A group and I stayed on the A- side.
There’s been a lot on my angst lately. Difficult times with our daughter that are going to take some time and a lot of love to fix and a job I’m running that makes that problem look like child’s play, and I’m a little stressed lately. I needed a good hammer on the Venge.
We rolled out about 40 seconds after the A Group into a fairly stiff southerly crosswind 12 to 14-mph. We had a couple of new guys rolling with us – one looked like he belonged with the A guys, another looked like he belonged on a weight rack rather than a BMC disc race bike, and another who looks like he belongs with the D Group but is starting to come around (though he wore headphones last evening, which I explained after the ride wouldn’t work in our group because it’s too dangerous at our speeds).
The next three miles north were unbelievably fast – we were topping 30-mph at times. A mile west, and another fast one north and it was time to pay the piper. The new guy who looked like he could ride had a tendency of shooting off the front as if he were a horse in the Kentucky Derby and after the second time, one of my friends asked me to talk to him. He did it once more, blowing up the group in the process and I had the conversation with him about how we roll. It was smooth after that – until we got to the hills.
Half the group charged up the second set of hills too fast for the tandem, so another group of us, myself included, took to trying to bring the tandem back to the group. We got close a couple of times but never quite made it – we let them go on the last hill and made our way to the regroup point at 20 miles in.
The rest was a blast. We headed north for the intermediate sprint, Mike I. and I up front. Mike looked over and asked if I wanted to try to take the group all the way to the sprint lead-out but I shook my head. I knew I was going to give it everything I had to get the group to 30+ mph and there was no way I was lasting the mile and change at those speeds. Mike read me perfectly and we threw down the gauntlet, taking it to 32-mph with the group in tow. When I was out of gas I signaled to Mike and flicked off, barely latching on at the back. With a quarter-mile to the City Limits sign, I didn’t have a sprint in me. Four others prepped and went. I stayed with the tandem and brought everyone back together. Then, the A’s passed.
Several of the A- guys shot up to latch on to the A Group and we, a group of five, let them go. We only had a couple of miles before a straight crosswind and I wanted a smaller group so we could echelon without taking up the entire road. The strategy worked perfectly. The five mile home stretch was flawless in a heavy crosswind.
I was going to wind it up for the final sprint. We started ramping it up with 0.8 of a mile left, working the pace from 21-1/2 to 27. I waited, as nobody was really going for it, until the last second and dropped the hammer from 27 to 32 and some change, passing the rest of our group. I had some aggression to get out so I stayed on the gas until the sign, letting up and coasting just at the line.
I got a fairly cool photo heading back as the smoke from the Oregon forest mismanagement fires has made its way all the way across the country. It’s way too thin to block the sun, but it’s enough for a spectacular scene. We got back to the parking lot and it was hi-fives and laughs all around. We had a few “herding cats” moments at the beginning of the ride but all’s well that ends well, and that ride did… and I rode my angst right out.
I thanked God more than once on the way home. I needed that.