TNIL: Ultra-Hot & Melty Edition (Or Conversely, Oh How I ❤️ My Venge Edition)
The thermometer in my car hit 91 preposterous degrees (33 C) on the way over to Lennon. There was a breeze, but at 91 sticky degrees, it felt more like getting hit with a furnace vent.
Chuck and I did the warm-up uneventfully, except one a$$#0le in a POS Chevy pickup who disagreed vehemently with “share the road” and laid on his horn about a quarter-mile before he got to us without another car in sight for miles. I’m guessing, but I think the 45 second blast on his horn meant “get off the road because I’m too stupid to pass you while you’re on the road surface”… but I’m not sure. I made fun of him enough that he pulled over to yell at us. We gave it back and rode by him so he had to pass us again. I made a wild, “well there you go, the lane is yours to pass” gesture with my hand as he yelled something out the window in “I have sex with goats in the barn” English. I couldn’t quite make it out and laughed at him as he went by.
I’m not always Mr. Etiquette, thinking about positively representing the sport, but some people… I’m imperfect. I’ll keep trying.
We were short riders again, maybe 15 between the A Elites and A’s so we rolled together. This time, there were more of us than them, and that gave me the warm fuzzies.
Levi and I led the rabble out, starting slow and ramping the pace up as the mile and a half ticked off. We were up to 23 when we flicked off to head back for a rest.
With a tailwind, the pace got quick, in a hurry. But it was good. That Pad Thai for lunch must have worked because I was feeling uncharacteristically fantastic. I also didn’t push my luck with long pulls, either. I gave it my best and got out of the way. Then we turned into the wind – crossing for a few miles, and that was a struggle, but then dead into it. The pulls were shorter but the pace moderated a little, and the draft was great.
Then we hit the hills.
I’d kept my breathing in check so I had some gas in reserve for the hills but it’s always surprising how fast the elite guys can shimmy up an incline that’d normally slow us down a bit. They took it a little easy on us, but not too easy. With a little extra want to I got through the hills and we were back on our normal Tuesday night route home. Heading for the homestretch we had better than a 22-mph average and we were on the gas hard. 26-mph uphill and I was wondering who had visited a priest for confession to be given that for penance. I stayed glued to Todd’s wheel, though… and we turned for the home stretch. I was expecting a smooth ride home. Fast, yes, but… reasonable. We were all melting by this point in the ride.
All hell broke lose.
The pace went from 26 to 32 in a matter of seconds (42 km/h to 51.5 km/h). I managed to stay connected for a bit more than a mile and I drifted back after a shake-up at the front had the group a little kittywampus and tucked in behind David. I told him I didn’t have much left and wouldn’t be able to hang… but he started falling off the group. He made a valiant effort to reconnect but he just didn’t have that last 20 yards. I came around close so he’d immediately get in my draft and charged off for the front group. I bridged the gap at 32-mph but Dave wasn’t there when I checked my six.
Well, I wasn’t about to leave him out there all on his own after I rode him like that, so I slipped quietly off the back of the lead group. I could also see Chuck and Clark in the background as well, so I told Dave to hold up a bit and we’d grab those two for a legit charge home. The caught up with two miles to go and we were after it. We raised our pace from 22.1 to 22.2 over the course of the next two miles and pounded the pedals for the City Limits sign north of 28-mph. And just like that, it was over.
I reset my Garmin for the cruise back to the parking lot and it was hi-fives and fist bumps all around. The official average was 22.5-mph for just shy of 30 miles. It was fantastic.
I’d had several thoughts throughout last night’s ride about how amazing my Venge is. My 5200 is a legendary race bike from the late 90s – more state-level wins than any other bike frame in the history of bicycles from what I’m told by our local cycling historian. I love that bike. But my Venge, fourteen years newer, is simply astonishing stood next to the Trek. When you push the pedals on the Venge, the forward reaction is simply violent in comparison. The bike just goes. Everything about the Specialized is perfect down to the chainring bolts. It’s quiet, fast, stout, and aero as they got in 2014.
That bike gave me everything it had last night and I feel lucky to own it. I’d have kept up on the Trek but it would have been a whole lot harder… and it would have been likely I’d have dropped a couple miles sooner as well.