The weather prognostication for the evening sucked. The Weather Channel said we had a 60% chance of getting drenched all day long. But then, as ride time closed in, it dropped to the 20s for 6pm, then to the single digits after. The sky didn’t look all that promising, though. With barely a gentle breeze, I knew it was going to be a fast night. I wanted to take the Venge… bad, but prepped the Trek. Anyone with a rain bike knows, if you take the good bike with a decent chance of rain, you’re getting wet – 100%, every time.
I arrived just before the warm-up time to a minor smattering of sprinkles. Diane was already in the parking lot with her tandem waiting for Jeff. I prepped my bike after a few minutes and rolled out late for the warm-up, alone. It was one of those evenings you’re hoping you don’t get drenched, but a quick shower wouldn’t be all that bad, either. It was hot and sticky so participation was going to be sparse. I started out slow, my legs feeling awfully sluggish after a day off Monday for my daughter’s honors graduation ceremony. I thought I was in trouble for the main event until, maybe two miles in, my legs started loosening up and my pace quickened. I passed a couple out “time trialing” (they were training for a triathlon) at 22-mph, pedaling fairly easy and my outlook for the ride changed. I will never, ever grow tired of passing aero bar riding time trialers on my 22-year-old Trek. After the seven-mile loop I pulled into the parking lot with a 19-mph average. Quite satisfactory.
As was expected, turnout was sparse at best. The skies were a little ugly and it was hot and muggy – I hoped for a little rain to knock the edge off. There were two tandem Bs, three B single bikes and six or seven A guys. We rolled out together, Jeff & Diane on one side of the double pace-line, I was on the other. We started out easy but quickly built up our speed to 22-mph into that slight breeze. We flicked off after a half-mile and headed to the back for a rest. After the next half-mile and a right turn, it got crazy in a hurry. The A guys took over and our pace went from low-20s to upper-20s within an eighth of a mile. We were on the gas and hurtling down the road. Our average pace was already up over 23-mph and climbing – and I was feeling surprisingly good. Getting to the front three bikes, things started to get a little ugly, but you expect that until you take your turn and can flick off.
We hadn’t been hit with a single raindrop at that point, though the skies were showing ugly isolated showers only a few miles from us. We managed to dodge everything. The worst we got was a damp road for a few minutes. We kept that 24 to 27-mph pace up all the way to Shiatown and we were faced with a choice. One of the tandems had dropped a few miles back and Mike and Diane on the other had been talking about turning around at the park to head back home. As the hills were coming up, I offered to head back with them and that’s what happened… and with a slight tailwind breeze.
Once we got going, we cruised – 20-mph on the uphill sections and 24 to 27 on the flats and downhill parts. The tandem and I switched places at regular intervals as we pounded for the finish line, our average pace ticking up as we went. With two miles to go we got serious, taking the pace to a sustained 26-27 (43-kmh). I took a turn, then Mike came around, then I took another before Mike and Diane came around and took it to the barn. We crossed the line with a 22.6-mph average on my Garmin, a 22.8 on Mike’s (obviously we go with 22.8 – or 37-kmh).
And we took it easy back to the parking lot. What a fantastic evening for a ride – and thanks to Dave and me bringing our rain bikes, we were assured to stay dry… though Dave rode home and got dumped on in the last two miles.
Halfway through the ride I was thinking about how much I’m enjoying the Trek. Zero missed shifts and there I was with all of that brand new carbon fiber and I’m on my 22-year-old first generation full carbon race bike, taking my lumps up front with everyone else. It was pretty cool.
Today is another fair chance of rain in the afternoon and that calls for some maintenance. Tinker with a creaky steering assembly and a new chain, bottom bracket cleaning and a move of the saddle for my wife. A mechanic’s work is never done…