I was the only one to show up for the warm-up last evening and I was glad this was the case. The weather report had called for gnarly weather in the evening for the better part of a week, right up till noon yesterday. Then, bam, it’s going to be hot and sunny with no rain. I even brought the Venge it was so nice out. After I prepped, I rolled out to warm my legs up and was not feeling it. I couldn’t figure it out. I should have been spry and ready to go.
You know those days where you clip in, excited for a fast, fun ride and you’re legs say, “Yeah, I don’t think so, Sparky. We’re going to make this hurt a little bit.”? That was me.
I settled into the headwind and figured my legs would join the party soon enough. A mile into a crosswind and up a little hill I should have easily scurried up (but didn’t), then I was into tailwind. 24 should have been easy but 22 was work (38 & 35 kmh respectively). My legs never came around and that played hard in my melon when it came time to roll out for the main event.
With a small(ish) group on hand because of the questionable weather, sun and heat (around 90), we decided to stick together as one group. Todd and Greg already had 60 miles in earlier in the day and Jerad was nursing back a knee injury (but he’s an actual pro athlete – he’s got “want to” on top of his “want to”). There were a couple of other A guys to worry about, but I figured it wouldn’t be too bad when they said they’d play nice and we could all stick together. It actually made sense.
And that goodwill lasted all of two miles.
The headwind mile and a half was great, but somewhere in that next mile north with a crosswind, somebody dropped the hammer. The group surged from 24-mph to 28 (45-kmh) and stayed there. I’d chosen the outside lane and was getting hammered by the crosswind – I did this so I could be protected later, when we headed south. I held on till I’d had enough, then flicked out from third bike. I wasn’t angry, A Group is going to be the A Group, after all. I just didn’t want to deal with that crap. Neither did Chucker and David. They went with me.
But Todd and Greg slowed the pace down and dropped back to bring us up to the group. I almost didn’t go. That’s a lot like being kind of pregnant, though.
Unfortunately, I was redlined most of the ride. I’d managed to get a spot behind one of the shorter riders – I think he’s 5’4″ and even in my drops I was still a few inches taller than he was – and he’s a lot younger and fitter so his aero was a lot more aero than mine. I’d take 30 second pulls up front because behind Bryan, it was just like I was up front behind him. I felt bad for being so short up front but there was no way I wasn’t pulling through and I figured I’d still be better with the group than off on my own.
Greg saw me struggling and asked if I wanted to switch lanes to ride behind Todd. Todd is 6’4″ and his nickname is the Watt King. Enough said. I went from purple-lined to green in a matter of a few miles but the damage was done. I never fully recovered though I did much better. Behind Bryan (another pro athlete, btw) there were at least four times I wanted to quit. After switching to Todd, I regained my composure a little bit but we were coming up on the hills… and I wasn’t the only one struggling. Our lone tandem couple got hammered in the hills. They were amazing, but the hills proved to be too much and they started drifting off the back, so I went with them.
We took a shortcut that put us in front of the main group and waited for them to catch us. I figured Dave would want back on the group but when they caught us after two miles, he just let them go. Chuck dropped off the back to ride with us as well. And it was good.
We all took turns up front and kept the pace between 22 & 24-mph but took it very easy up the last of the hills. It was a great home stretch and we crossed the line with a 22-mph average (35 km/h). I was glad to be done and ended up with 32 miles for the main event (plus seven for the warm-up and 1 for the cooldown). I knew good and well I was going to sleep like a baby once I was showered and turned in for the night. I knew it down to my baby toes.
And so, the promotion!
It was deemed at our club board meeting the other night that the B Group was too fast to be called the B Group. The others said we were, without question, everyone else’s A Group so we should reclassify all of the groups to match most other groups with the B Group being the 17 to 19-mph crew. We decided the A Group would be called A-Elite and we’d be the A group, so the B Group could be a fairer 18 to 20-mph (our biggest local club, the TCBA – Tri-County Bicycle Assn classifies the A Group as 19+ mph or “very fast”).
And so it was. My first night in the A Group and I wanted to quit at least four times… but I hung in there and toughed it out. Toughing it out, rather than dropping, was definitely the high point of the night.
Dinner was excellent. And I did sleep like a baby last night. It was marvelous.