We rocked so much ass last night, I’m still smiling!
The warm-up was easy to moderate. The weather was fantastic, though on the warm side. Not much in the way of wind, and the clouds were light and wispy. We live for nights like this.
When the Elite and A Groups shook out, it was a toss-up. Ride together with 20 or wait 30 seconds and go with ten of us and keep it smooth. We chose door number two. For one, our old route was finally opened and we wanted a smooth, fast ride. Second, Dave rolled into the parking lot with Carla in the stoker’s position on his tandem. Dave, in his Strava posting of the ride, referred to her as “Carla the Super-stoker”. Those two can lay a hurting on anyone on that tandem… none of us A folks wanted any part of that.
After the A Elite Group rolled, we waited 20 ticks and rolled out ourselves. We led out easy and built up speed over the next mile. And with that, it was on. There wasn’t much time for talking as we surged to 25-mph and kept it between 22 & 28-mph. With ten bikes in our group, usually, with wind to deal with, it’s a tossup between a single and double pace-line and we almost always opt for the double which burns everyone out twice as fast but you can fit more people in one lane of the road if we go double… This time, with only a 3-mph wind to consider, the consensus was single and we absolutely flew down the road.
When we’re side-by-side, the ride has a social aspect to it – you’ve got people in earshot. With everyone in a train, it’s all about pace, speed and fun. I like both for different reasons and I dig it when we get a speed train rolling. We’d made the decision early to give the old route a try. Construction operations were supposed to have been complete but there were still some barrels up, though several friends had already ridden it and said it was good to go. It was like hugging my wife after she gets back from a road trip.
Everything came rushing back – where to hold on, where to hammer it, where to let off for the tandems… oh, it was like the good times were back as we hit the hilly section. Everything just felt… right. Add to that, the perfect weather and I was like a kid in a candy store.
We rolled the re-group point because we didn’t lose anyone in the hills. I took the lead out but got a little ahead of the group and had to let them catch up before I took my pull up an incline that we normally climb at 20 to 21-mph. I have no idea how this works, every time. That hill should be a 16-mph affair, max, but we just nail it every time. And following comes the screaming descent into Vernon. We hit 31-mph coming down the hill and Chuck kept the power on for a surprising amount of time after the Mike and Diane had flicked off the front on their tandem. Nobody bothered with a sprint for the City Limits sign – I think we were mainly just enjoying being back on the normal route… and we were flying.
Once through town, I shot off the front to clear an intersection for the tandems that always has a lot of traffic. And for once, we just rolled right through it and carried on up the hill to the next fast section. It’s downhill, maybe 2% easing to 1/2% for most of the next mile. We had to feather the brakes to let a car go through a four-way stop but as soon as the tail end of that car was through, we were right back on the gas, hammering the pace to the upper-20s.
With a slight tailwind, we kept the speed up but reasonable for the tandems as the next mile is slightly uphill, again 1% give or take.
Once through the uphill section, we made a left onto the homestretch road and put the hammer down. Really, the best aspect of last night’s ride was how smooth it was. We were north of a 22.1-mph average at this point (35-km/h) and we just kept it between 22 & 25-mph… a little less on the uphills and a little more on the downhills… until we hit the last two miles.
I took the uphill after we blew through a clear intersection and started up at speed. It starts at 3%, so it’s more than a little molehill, but eases toward the top and I crested just shy of 20-mph before flicking off the front. It was down in the drops after that and we hammered for the City Limits sign north of 24-mph, sometimes approaching 30. We crossed the line in perfect formation at 28-mph and eased off the gas. We finished with a 22.4-mph average (36 km/h) and smiles on our faces. It was high-fives and fist bumps all the way back to the parking lot.
100 miles at 21.7 Sunday followed by a 30-mile 22.4 average… the comments on Strava were glowing late into the evening. We all enjoyed that one – neither the Elite group or we A folks set any records last night, but it’s rare to see that many smiles during the cooldown and after-party in the parking lot.
Wow, what a ride.