We rolled out Saturday morning to a cold start. It was nasty cold, but perfectly sunny so we were expecting it would warm up as the morning wore on. The sunshine helped, of course, but with the temp near freezing and a pile of headwind in front of us, it was rough going. Thankfully, and surprisingly, I got my layers just right and while the first two miles were chilly, I was never uncomfortable once we got going. We picked a nice 57-mile route that had almost all of the headwind out of the way early, so once we finally hit some tailwind about 27 miles into the ride, We pushed the pace a little and it good times and laughter all around.
Sadly, it wasn’t all sh!ts & giggles as we had plenty of crosswind, but the ride was quite a lot of fun. We finished the route with an 18-1/2-mph average.
Clouds rolled in before we finished our ride but it really wasn’t much of a big deal against the temperature. It just stayed cool through much of the day. In the early evening, however, the clouds moved out and the temperature moderated, finally rising into the 60’s. The remainder of the evening was quite wonderful and I ended up cooking steak tampico on the grill (sirloin steak, Mexican blend cheese, medium Garden Fresh salsa – it’s absolutely fantastic).
I slept in a little bit and enjoyed the morning, stepping outside to get a sense of the temperature. It was supposed to be quite mild, but after Saturday’s start I was a little more than skeptical. It was glorious, in the mid-60’s (18 C). Without a doubt, shorts and short sleeves. I readied my Venge, though almost decided on the Trek when a quick popup shower blew through. Thankfully, it was short-lived. I got ready early and went out to meet Mike on his way over to get a few extra miles in before we left. We tooled around the block at an easy pace, talking about cycling stuff. I enjoyed the leisurely pace and company. It’s not often I ride like that.
We made it back to the house and the group, comprised of Mike, Chuck, Diane and Mike on their tandem, my wife and I (on singles, it’s a long story, no tandem yesterday), rolled out into the wind. Six miles in, my wife broke a spoke when she got out of the saddle to shimmy up a little hill. I stopped to take the spoke out but she opted to take her toy and go home rather than stick it out with a wobbly wheel. We had a club event in the afternoon she wanted to prep for, anyway. She called in a favor to a buddy of ours to give her a ride home (he lives a mile from where my wife broke down) and we went on our way. Two miles later we picked up Mark and Jon, then Greg, Dave and Todd shortly thereafter… It was the five of us B’s (Mike is an A rider on a single, but a solid B on the tandem with his wife) and five A’s and it got lively.
The headwind was picking up and those five A guys were driving into the wind north of 20-mph. I was up in the rotation taking my turns, though shorter than the A riders, so I didn’t notice that Mike and Chuck had slipped off the back. We dropped back to bring them back up to the group but they’d turned around and high-tailed it home with a tailwind. I only found this out because I called Chuck, who said they were good and heading home, to go on without them. And on we went.
Todd took the “catch the front group” pull. He’s an absolute beast of a rider and had us up to 24-mph into a 14-mph headwind. We were to the main group in short order, and it helped they stopped at an intersection to wait for us. Mark and Jon split to head home and the rest of us got to it.
We had three more miles to go into the headwind, but a miraculous thing happened as we’d been cruising along… the clouds had dissipated and the temperature responded with the sunshine. I was actually sweating! We completed the three miles and turned to head back… and God smiled down on us with the most glorious tailwind I’d ever experienced, with 29 miles left to get home. We had an eight mile stretch that, guessing, had to be north of a 27-mph average. We were absolutely cruising. Then a stretch north, more tailwind, then more north (a whole lot faster than we should have taken that section), and we were on the home stretch. Ten miles to home with a tailwind all the way.
The A guys headed home with about eight to go for Mike, Diane and I and we took the pace down to a more reasonably 21 to 23-mph, settling in for the last push home. Mike and Diane were both cooked from the effort and I wasn’t much better. The relaxed pace was welcomed. We pulled into the driveway with 56 miles and a 19-1/2-mph average. Taking into account the dawdling at the beginning of the ride and we were north of 20-mph for the main body of the ride.
A shower later and I was packing up my bike after wiping it down, for that event my wife had to get back for. Our club sponsored a bike parade and some laps at a new trail that just opened up next to our bike shop. I grabbed some McDonald’s on the way and sat with my friends, talking more bike stuff, while people filed in. It was a glorious afternoon in the mid-70’s and even got into the low 80’s (28 C). We had a broad cross-section of the population show up and put in some laps on the new track. I rode with my buddy, Jonathan and his young son (eight) for a couple of miles, then Dave joined us on his replica 1905 track bike (it’s immaculate, and absolutely gorgeous).
We laughed and talked about everything under the sun, including the nuts hiding behind masks, socially distanced in the sunshine with a 12-mph breeze, many of whom were fully vaccinated. I felt a sorry for them, actually. If ever there was a place to safely interact like normal human beings, that was the place. Many left their masks on as the properly distanced parade pulled out. Sadly, you just can fix that, so I just let them be and said a short prayer for them to heal mentally after this year-long ordeal. Meanwhile, for me it was party time. I had a blast… and my slight sunburn shows my effort to make up for the last four months of gray weather by topping off my Vitamin D reserves.