I joined a Strava challenge to cycle 400 km in the month of July. I got my badge last night.
It was hot when I left work. The thermostat showed 93 balmy, sunshiny degrees (34 C). With a 12% chance we’d see enough rain to wet the road, I readied and packed the Venge.
I was the only one to show up for the warm-up. Heh. Warm-up. It was ninety-freaking-three degrees! There was a gnarly anvil cloud the size of a mountain to the north and much farther south but it was sunny and fair other than that. I was optimistic. I didn’t push the warm-up, not even a little. 17-mph.
We had an surprisingly small group in the parking lot. A lot of people using the long weekend to a vacation. Only two A-Elite guys and a decent handful of us A peeps. On the bright side, Carla and Allen showed with their son – we hadn’t seen the whole crew in almost two years.
We rolled together at 6:01 with the big dogs up front. I expected them to get bored and drop us within a few miles. One tends to be impatient and the other, a National star athlete, has a reputation for only having one gear (and it’s very fast).
The surge to drop us never came. they just kept an easy pace, between 21 & 24 for their initial eight mile turn up front. After that, we cycled through the double pace-line as we normally would.
But the clouds had been building while we’d been enjoying the effort of our friends. We weren’t halfway around the 33-mile route when we hit the first wet pavement. It wasn’t bad at first, just annoyingly damp – enough to make you wash your bike after. It got worse.
I almost forgot! I’d been quite nervous all day about whether or not I’d be able to hang with the group. After three hard days in a row over the holiday weekend, a Tuesday Night was not what I needed. I did rather well, though. First, I was almost all the way in the back of the pace-line for that monster first pull from Jared and Dave. Second, I was rarely paired with someone who would take a long turn up front which meant I could stay, relatively speaking, fresh. I didn’t have to dig into the well until we got to the hills.
As we came out of the hills for the home stretch, we dropped the son, then Allen, then his wife (the Force is strong with that one!) before Clark and I started faltering. Dave, Jared and Clinton slowly pulled away on the newly drenched roads. We had a storm blow through that somehow missed us but had deposited enough rain the rooster tails were huge. At 23-mph we were riding into our own spray off the front tires. I caught Clark and we traded turns at the front till we hit the final mile. Clark was fading fast so I went around and slowly picked up the pace so he could hold on. I held it between 23 and 26 all the way to the line and gave it everything I had, expecting Clark to blow by me at any second. He never did and I crossed the line with a 21.7-mph average for the long course (33-miles) before sitting up, only to realize I’d dropped him a while back.
I sat up, completely out of gas and dripping wet, to let him catch back up. We took it easy all the way back to the parking lot. And I mean easy.
Special thanks to the girls who attend the church that lets us use the back lot to stage our rides who always show up with water, Gatorade and snacks on hot days. This week they brought watermelon with them. The eldest laughed at the uncontrollable grunt I let out on the first chew of a big piece. It was heavenly. After my watermelon and a Gatorade, I packed up and went home. I had to clean up my bike so nothing rusted, but I didn’t last long after that. I don’t even remember falling asleep, but it took me quickly. I slept straight through the night without a single toss or turn. I woke up in exactly the same spot I was in when I fell asleep.
Thankfully, we’ve got inescapable rain in the forecast for the afternoon so I’m taking the night off. My last day off was 433 miles ago – more than half of those (226) in the last four days and a hard ride, every one. I’m ready for a little rain-induced R&R.
And, incidentally, with this post I’ve completed a 60-day stretch with a post every day – and on my birthday, no less.