We had a sparse crowd for Thursday’s Lake Shannon Loop. It’s been, until this week (at least for me), a fast ride all season long. That part of the group didn’t show up last night even though the weather was simply amazing. Sunny, 80° (26 C), and a mild breeze from the west. Without question, it was one of the nicest days of the season. The group didn’t match the weather.
We rolled out at precisely 6 pm, Chuck called on Charlie to try for his fastest ride ever – he’d managed an 18-mph average for the course the week before, we were going to go for 19.
The pace was cordial, enjoyable, and fun right from the first hill. It took us a minute, but once the pace was established and we formed up into our pace-line, we settled into it. I’d been a little bummed when it was decided we were going to slow it down, but quickly grew to appreciate the smoothness of the ride. Normally, I have to think about strategy, where I want to be in relation to certain climbs – whether up front or in the back of the group, but shooting for a 19-mph average, none of that mattered.
What ensued ended up being one of my more enjoyable rides of the year. We didn’t have to hammer the climbs (though we certainly didn’t watch the grass grow, either) and each of the five of us did our part to try to get Charlie to the finish line with his 19 average.
Rolling for the home stretch I realized we were about done for 6 pm starts this year. the sun was fading fast and we had a few too many miles left. I had a lot of gas left in the tank going up the last climb so I PR’ed it and hammered for home at 30-mph.
We rolled into the parking lot with a 19.16-mph average. Charlie had done it.
We talked for a minute afterward about how enjoyable it was and, for Charlie, how nice it was that the smooth nature of the paceline meant he didn’t have a tough time holding wheels as he normally would (the fact that we slowed it down by 3-mph also played a big part). I was struck by how much fun I had at the slower pace. That ride was a serious late in the season treat.
And it was reinforced; a ride doesn’t always have to be As Fast As Possible.