I’d been looking forward to a Tuesday like this all summer long. Three came close, but last night was perfect. If the wind was more than 2-mph I’d be shocked. There were a few clouds in the sky, but gloriously sunny otherwise… and the temp, at 81 (27 C), couldn’t have been better.
And I forgot my helmet at home. Doh! I always check that I have my helmet, shoes and sunglasses before I leave the driveway but I was, erm, distracted by my wife with a really good kiss and simply wasn’t thinking right as I headed out.
I realized what I’d done about four miles from the church. I called my wife, who tossed the helmet in her car and headed my way… I turned my car around and met her halfway. I rolled into the parking lot a few minutes late for the warm-up but I’d called Chucker and let him know I’d be late. Five were waiting when I got there.
I quickly got ready and we rolled out.
We started slow but built up speed as we went… from 16-mph till we were cruising at 22. The warm-up went quick and Chucker spit off for a couple of extra miles while Dale and I headed back to get ready for the start.
As has been the perplexing norm, and this was surprising on the single best Tuesday night of the year, we didn’t have a big enough group to scrape separate A Elite and A groups so we rolled out together. Unlike previous editions, I noticed right away that we had one of ours paired up with almost every elite rider. That had a cooling affect on the pace. The only problem I ran into was being stuck behind Jared… he’s shorter and astonishingly fit so for a 6′ tall cyclist who hasn’t missed a meal in quite a while, it’s like trying to draft behind fettuccini. I’d get to three bikes back and start heading toward the red line. By the time I got up front I was already spent. This went on for a few cycles but I saw an opportunity… Craig pulled out of the line and Jared went over to talk to him just short of a stop sign. I took the opportunity to jump up a place and get behind James. At 6’1, and a fella who likes to ride upright, it was like drafting behind a battleship by comparison. I stopped hitting the red line till I was up front and the whole outlook of the ride changed immediately. Dave was on a vintage Assenmacher that he’d sent to California to be painted by a nationally renowned painter and I was amazed that he lasted as long as he did with the main group on a bike with down tube shifters.
We were pushing a 24-mph average (38 kmh) as we approached the hills, sixteen miles into the ride. Chuck wanted to pull out of the main group rather than have the elite guys crank it up (which they always do, and had said before we left that they would again) and drop us. Three others went with us – Dave had peeled off, I found out after reviewing Strava afterward. We were sitting on a 23.5-mph average when we split off.
As we headed back the way we came, Chuck suggested taking it easy – around 20-mph – up a climb we normally hit at about 22. This is followed by a quick downhill section into town we normally do around 30, but kept a lid at 27 to preserve a little for the final push home. Through town and heading north our average had fallen to 23.1. I wanted to best a 23 at the finish. I wanted it bad.
With eight miles to go I shouted up to Chuck to try to keep it above 23… and everyone responded well. We pounded out those last eight miles and took that average up to 23.2 as we crossed the City Limits line (I had a 23.1 on my Garmin but Chuck had a 23.2, so we’re going with that).
I reset my computer and shifted to the baby ring… spent. It was all smiles and fist bumps as we headed back to the parking lot, the sun getting low on the best Tuesday weather we’d had all year.
That was my fastest Tuesday night of the year, too. I was beaming all night from that ride. It was perfect all the way around. The elite guys had a blast (a couple of comments on Strava and a couple of texts back and forth informed me of their thoughts), we A guys had a fantastic ride – Todd put it best in a text; it’s all about the brotherhood when we’re out there. He was right.
I slept like a baby last night.