It never gets old, my friends.
We rolled out last night to one of our last, last best evenings for TNIL-2020. This late in the season, though, if it’s warm, it’s due to the warmth being blown up to us. We had a stiff southwest wind to contend with. That’s good and bad… half of the ride is really hard – the other half is mildly hard. But the last 10k, it’s all tailwind all the way home.
It’s that last 10k that this story is all about.
I broke rule #1 in Tuesday Night in Lennon. I hadn’t brought my good legs. I left them somewhere along a 20-mph century Saturday afternoon. The slog into the wind was absolutely brutal. Still, I did my best to do my part. I knew I’d be alright if I just hung on till the tailwind.
We turned the corner, a hairpin righthand’er and… we had a tandem up front so the first hill was mercifully reasonable. Once we crested, though, the tempo picked up.
The next three miles is simply getting to and through the next hill till the fun part. Over the last hill we had the whole group together so there was no regrouping, we just rolled on, the two tandems up front and pulling hard. Over the crear and with some down and tailwind we went from 21 on the way up, to 27-mph (43 km/h) in a hurry. With the second tandem up front, it was like they were taking it to the barn as the passed 31-mph (50 km/h). I made a quick motion to everyone behind to stand down for the sprint so we could give it to Mike and his wife. They’d earned it. They selflessly lead us out all season long, they needed one after that effort.
We slowed a bit through town, but once across 71, we were right back after it. Chuck was in the lead and I was second. He took it up to speed and I held it through my turn. Up an easy incline at 22 to 24 and we were on the homestretch with a cross-tailwind.
We put on a clinic in smooth, steady speed. I knew the A Group would be right on our heels. We only dipped below 23 once at an intersection, to wait for a farmer to complete his turn. That stop cost us some time.
Chuck and I were one, two again. He led up the incline and wound the speed up and I took it up a notch to 26 before flicking off to the back and a rest. Clark was next, then David, then the tandems took over with under a mile to go. Dave and Val put in an excellent effort and flicked out to Mike and Diane, who put the hammer down. They “took the baton” at 25-mph and started working the pace up. 27… 28-mph… 29… Unlike previous weeks, I knew I was going for this sign. I was second bike behind the tandem and they appeared to have plenty of leg left to get to the end so I shifted to the drops, chose the right cadence and upshifted, waiting to come even with the farmhouse that signifies 20 seconds to the City Limits sign.
I could feel riders jostling in the back and tried to hold back so I didn’t burn my matches before crossing the line… I jumped 20 meters early, starting at 30-mph, and put everything I had into the pedals. My Venge leapt forward, hands in the drops, ass-high, head-low. 32… 33… 34… I shot across the line and looked back. More than a length, and the A Group was just coming across the line.
It was all fist-bumps and laughs on the cooldown mile. Another fantastically satisfying Tuesday night in the books. It wasn’t the fastest we’d ever done, but there was smooth and fun in spades. It was one of those nights that, in the dead of winter when I’m longing for a good ride outdoors and there’s a yard of snow on the ground (call it a meter), I’m going to remember that night.
We rode the last 10 km (6.2 miles) at a 24.25-mph average. , or 39 km/h. 15m:23s… Not our fastest 10 k, but definitely smokin’.