We finally had a significant B Group turnout last night. The weather was as perfect as we’ll get on a Tuesday and we made the best of it.
Chucker and I were the only two in the parking lot for the warm-up. This does not, usually, foretell good fortune in terms of turnout. Chuck asked if we should just roll out but I suggested we wait for Jonathan… who, I remembered a minute later, wouldn’t be showing up. We headed out for the warm-up.
Less than 30 seconds in Chuck said, “I don’t care how long this takes, I’m taking it easy”. He was toasty after the weekend as well, and I was glad. My legs were not happy about what I’d put them through the last four days. Dave F. turned the corner in his minivan as we were just about to make our first turn on the route. Chuck asked if Dave would want to ride with for the warm-up. I answered he probably would, so we turned around and headed back the half-mile to collect him. Then Pickett showed up… so much for that easy warm-up. We rolled out together and managed to keep a fair leash on Pickett – not an easy thing to do, anyone who knows him will attest to this. We held firm in our resolve, though. When he ramped up the pace, we simply kept it steady at 16-18-mph. He’d shoot off the front for a bit, then come back to the group. We made it three miles before Chuck broke first and went with Pickett. Then I did, and Dave came with.
The wind was a light, variable, though distinctively westerly breeze, noticeable but barely. Heading down the home stretch, I could feel my legs loosen up a little bit. Chuck and I took an easy bonus loop around a subdivision to bring our warm-up total to 10-1/2 miles.
The real surprise awaited in the parking lot. It was packed… and with plenty of B Group folks. We even had some C & D’s! This was the first night I’d say it felt like “normal”.
The A Group rolled out first as we had two tandems and enough single bikes to make a decent double pace-line out of it. We rolled out shortly after the A’s at a moderate 20-mph into that light breeze. At the right turn, though, things got hectic in a hurry… and fun. We hammered up a slight incline at 26-mph – way fast without a tailwind – and watched for traffic at an upcoming intersection where the cross traffic doesn’t stop. We had to wait for a few vehicles to clear before heading off again. We were rotating a little too often and I was starting to deteriorate as the miles wore on… but Chuck, in the right place at the right time, called for a single-file line as we turned south toward town. With a better rest between turns, I was a little less nervous about staying with the group. We kept the pace between 21 & 25-mph and were pushing a 22-mph average at one point. We got busted up at a busy intersection, though, and waiting for the others to catch up shot our average.
Once we regrouped, though, it was all hands on deck.
We’ve been doing a modified route because one of the roads is undergoing major repairs and the new route has a little more up to it… or maybe the hills are fewer but harder on the new route. There are a couple of doozies. The group survived intact, though and we hammered on once we got through the last tough section. Heading north was quite fantastic at 23-27-mph.
We hit the turn for the homestretch hard and the pace quickly jumped to 25-mph. We had a nice cruise going when the A Group passed on our left. The pace quickened and one of the tandems started falling off the back. I hollered up and coasted back to give them some cover. Mike and Diane were on my wheel and I started working back to the group on the way up a nasty little incline. On the way down the hill, the A guys got stuck at an intersection while the tandem and I were hammering down the hill to catch up. Traffic cleared with the A Group flat-footed and the tandem shot by to get as much of the last hill out of the way before everyone else could gather and get across the road. Many of us cheered them on as the A Group got organized and closed the gap. Just as I thought the tandem was going to be overtaken, the A’s stood up and gave everyone a chance to stay with them. I’d never seen them do that before so I got on my horse and stayed with them…
With just two miles to go we were sitting on a 21.6-mph average… and with everyone on and in order, the A’s dropped the hammer on fresh asphalt, accelerating so everyone else could latch on. We were powering down the road at 28 to 30-mph and our average pace started ticking up. Those boys were relentless, pushing to the final sprint… then they picked up the pace. 31-mph… 32… then the sprint went and we rocketed across the line with a 22.5-mph average*.
It was all hi-fives and fist bumps as we cruised back to the parking lot.
Two things of note happened last night. First, Doug excoriated me for too many hard days and not enough time off or recovery time. He was right, too. I’ve been burning way too hot lately. I’ll have to back off in the next few before the weekend. Second, Clark, one of the guys who come up from a county over and south to ride with us, didn’t quite believe me when I mentioned I’d struggled a few times, wondering if I’d be able to hold the pace. Getting dropped for a lack of “want to” had some bad ramifications over the last few weeks. My confidence wasn’t near where it should have been at the start of last night’s ride. That was fixed in thirty miles, though. Last night was a hammer-fest.
*My Garmin showed a 22.0-mph average for the ride last night. Mike’s, on the tandem, showed 22.58 – I believe they were one of the bikes that got stuck at an intersection, so they were speeding towards us while we were soft-pedaling waiting for them to catch up. I have no problem going with his average as this post goes. Anyway, it was great to have the B Group back together again. What a ride!