The evenings are getting short. It’s almost October and there was a 15% chance of rain… for those not following along with me on Michigan’s weather, that equates to a 100% chance of getting 15% wet. It was so sunny earlier in the day, though – certainly it couldn’t rain. I readied the Venge.
We were scheduled to start fifteen minutes early so we could finish in the daylight which meant a really fast warm-up. We almost started without my riding buddy, Chuck, but I managed to remember that he was actually on his way… I turned on my Garmin and forgot to pause it while we did laps around the parking lot waiting.
Surprisingly, the others waited with me. Chuck pulled into the parking lot a few minutes later and we were rolling a short while later. The warm-up was fast… and true to Michigan form, about two miles into said warm-up, dead into the wind, it started spitting on us. On a normal day, Craig pulls most of, if not the entire, warm-up. Into the wind, though, I had a feeling it was going to be a little much for him and he did fall to the back. He and McMike were holding 20-21 into the wind. I took a bit, then we singled up for the mile north. The few miles heading east back to the parking lot was in the neighborhood of 24-25-mph and it started spitting again. We completed the seven mile loop in less than 21 minutes.
Doing the math in my head, I needed one or two more miles for my 1,000 mile September so I relegated myself to at least the first mile in the rain. After the first mile, the drizzle slowed and I thought there might be hope so I kept pressing. A quarter-mile later it started coming down. I was ” that close to turning around when the sun broke through the clouds. It warmed up noticeably for a second and I decided to stick with it, come what may.
That was the last bit of wet for the evening, and what came next was worth sticking it out.
We had a small group – two tandems and six or seven singles – so there was a quick turn-over up front but the rest at the back was pretty decent… and most everyone did their part except a new guy who had to hide from time to time to keep from getting dropped (which we were perfectly cool with once we evened up the two lines).
What ensued, from the moment the lines equalized, for the entire rest of the ride, was one of the most enjoyable Tuesday Night Rides in memory. It was one of those where all of the cylinders were firing perfectly and the group did its thing. There were a few points where I struggled a little bit, especially toward the front in the headwind, but I knew if I just stayed on through the headwind, the tailwind home was going to be a blast.
I wasn’t wrong.
The hills held a couple of seconds of rough riding – they’re always exceptionally fast with even a mild helping tailwind – but once we were through, it was all fun and games. Mike I. and I were up front for the descent into Vernon and we were on the pedals like we were being chased. The norm is around 28-mph but we were well above 30 (48 km/h) before flicking out and heading to the back. I didn’t even bother with a sprint. Nobody did, we just kept our lines rolling.
Heading north was no different from the west tailwind – all go and no slow. The front of the group hugged the centerline as we rolled on so there was plenty of echelon room. For the final stretch home, it was like a finely tuned machine. With three miles to go, both tandems came to the front and I shouted out something about the tandems leading the group home and made a train’s “Wooo-wooo” call. That got laughs.
Chuck and I were next up and we did a good stretch maintaining that 25-27 before flicking off for the next two.
We didn’t even sprint for the City Limits sign, just rolled across the line as a group at 28-1/2-mph. It was hi-fives and happy times all the way back to the parking lot. We didn’t break any speed records. We weren’t even all that fast, but I can tell you unequivocally, fun was had last night, all around. I’m glad I stuck around for Vengin’ in the rain… (Chuck’s line when he noticed I’d ridden the Venge and it was raining. He actually sang a few bars… badly.)
It never ceases to amaze me how fortunate I am to have the friends I do. Life sure is good.