The rain started around 3 am. Just sprinkling, really. Nothing to get excited about, but it was steady. When it was light enough to see, about 6 am because of the clouds, I went out to take a look. Wheels were set to roll at 7:30 in the unlikely event it wasn’t actively raining. It was still lightly sprinkling but the roads weren’t all that wet, either. I texted Mike to get his thoughts. He straight-up bailed. Nope, he said. I’m tired and I’m taking the day off.
I figured nobody else would show so I was going to do the whole 57-mile route solo… at 8.
Then Jay showed up. Then McMike… and I was still in my pajamas. I laughed and asked them to hold tight, that I’d be ready in a few minutes. Within ten the bike was ready, I was packed up and out the door and we were rolling on damp roads. We had a slight, barely there cross-wind from the southwest that we were going to eat for the entire first half of the ride. You could barely notice it, though. Sure, we had damp roads to contend with but this was really our first 3-mph wind day of the year and that aspect was glorious. I started out easy for the first mile but quickly built the pace up to 20-21. Jay took over next with a decent couple of miles himself, then Mike, then me again. Our average pace climbed to 20.6-mph by the time we hit our first stop.
We used the facilities and I downed part of a Cliff bar and some water. It was going to be one of those mornings.
We rolled out again with about half of the headwind done. Our pace stayed the same, though we did take it easy on the hills, which was quite unexpected and very welcome. McMike is light and incredibly powerful for an old-timer so normally, he can have a fatty like me gasping to keep up. He wasn’t hammering us on the hills, though. It wasn’t quite a “tandem break” up the hills, but I certainly wasn’t about to kick that pace out of bed for eating crackers (that’s a joke if you missed it). It was on the flats and downhills that we really made time.
We hit our first tailwind 28-1/2 miles into the ride and it didn’t feel much different from the headwind. The pace did increase slightly, though. I was having one of those rides where you’re proud to be fit – where you should have your tongue dangling precariously close to your spokes, but the spring miles paid dividends and you’re just cruising with two of your buds.
Then we hit wet pavement… wet enough we were eating spray if we weren’t careful of our line. The Weather Channel showed a 6% chance for that hour when we rolled out. I think they meant 6 mm of rain. Our pace didn’t change at all. We pounded out the miles in perfect rotation and took it to the barn. Until the wheels fell off for Jay around 45-miles. He said he was going to have to hide at the back or else he wasn’t going to make it – his legs were fried. I took the pace down to an easy 17-19-mph for a few miles to give him a rest and recharge. Our average dropped from 20.6 to 25. Just before I though it’d drop another tenth I announced, “Alright, Jay, rest time is up.” and I picked up the pace again to 21 to 22. We weren’t going to make 21 with Jay in that condition and hiding, but I wanted 20.5. Mike and I took two-mile pulls and rotated well at the front, but we both started running out of gas as we approached the home stretch. Two-mile pulls turned to one. I fired down a gel about ten miles out, knowing I was going to run out of gas without it. I was digging deep to keep the pace up but held up nicely. I was beaming with satisfaction at being able to dig deep enough to keep pace with McMike and equal his pulls at the end. We pulled into the driveway with a massive 20.55-mph average over 56.2 miles with just Mike and I taking rotations the last 16-ish miles.
Sadly, the bike took one for the team:
It took an hour and a half to clean her up. I took a trip to the shop to pick up a couple of tires for the Venge that had come in (there’s going to be a tire shortage, best stock up for the rest of this season and next) and swung by a McDonald’s on the way for a tasty McLunch. I made my way home and took a nap.
Then Chuck called to see if I’d ridden in that morning. I replied I had, but I’d go out again… I texted my wife that I was rolling for another hour and change (she’d taken the girls to get their hair done, an all-day event) and she sent back a thumb’s up and a heart. I hearted her back (gotta love it).
The sun had come out and the wind had picked up considerably, but it was warm and wonderful. I wanted to work on my suntan.
And I knew within a quarter-mile that this was not a good idea. I took the Venge for all the help I could get, but I was on the darker side of crispy… think burnt toast. That was me. Thankfully, Chuck took most of the headwind pulls and kept the pace easy. I tried to help as much as I could but I was hurtin’ for certain.
My legs eventually came around but I had a bad case of baboon @$$. I shifted in the saddle often. And I made it to the driveway, though a little long in the face. My second shower of the day was a cold one and it did a lot to revive me for dinner and grocery shopping with my wife. My heinie calmed down eventually and the rest of the evening was quite wonderful. I’d earned my dinner.
No rest for the weary today. We’ve got a 40-miler on the tandem planned, then I volunteered to lead an easy ride at the club picnic later in the morning. It’s going to be a long day.