Friends, I wish I could put to words how good I feel at this very moment, just 30 minutes or so after crossing the City Limits line capping, with an exclamation point, a tremendously fast ride. I’m still smiling.…
We rolled out at 6:01 to less than stellar wind conditions out of the northeast. This means two roads on the ride have a fair tailwind. The rest of the course socks you right in the kisser.
We had a solid group, though. The Elite guys wanted to play nice… and we in the A Group weren’t enough to go it alone. The offer of help with the wind was too attractive to pass up.
The start was easy, smooth, and quickly ratcheted up to speeds that had me questioning the authenticity of the Elite Group’s offer… but I settled in and hammered on. We were flying into a steady headwind, 26+ mph.
I took my lumps up front and thankfully drew another A guy in the other lane of the double pace-line so our turns up front was mercifully short. I also managed to avoid riding behind a couple of the guys who are tough to hide behind. Once I’d settled into the pace, which, I $#!+ you not, was insane, I was able to get into it. I want to write, I “relaxed” into it, but that’s a wild mischaracterization… there was no relaxing happening in that group. We were staying between 25 & 28-mph (40 to 46 kph).
Then we hit Shipman Road and things really got fast. A few times a year we are gifted a northeasterly wind which makes everything except Shipman Road suck. The whole stretch we’re on that road, all five miles of it, are flat-out fast with a tailwind. It was a new PR for me last night. Five miles in 11m:18s. That’s almost 27-mph… we touched 30-mph a few times… on flat to slightly uphill road. In fact, the profile of that five miles is slightly uphill for all but a few hundred yards till the last half-mile.
There once was a time 28-mph would blow me up after a half-mile. We held that for five.
After crossing a busy intersection and with a crossing tailwind, we flew south to our rendezvous with the hills. I was certain I’d be off the back and blown up. But I was mistaken. Chucker and I had taken a pull just before the triple-lump and had just enough time to recover at the back that I actually had to coast for a second on the way up the hardest of the incline. We had crossing headwind coming up as we hung a left to the next series of hills, though, and I was certainly about to be detritus strewn about the road. At first, the group tried to echelon and it stretched out from the double yellow to the side of the road in five cyclists, momentarily leaving several, including myself, in the ditch (not the literal ditch, the side of the road in an echelon where there’s no protection from a crossing headwind). The guys at the front surged and straightened the line, though. I survived the next two hills, much to my disbelief.
The A guys made preparations to turn for the short route, positioning ourselves at the back to avoid cross-traffic crashes with the Elite group heading straight. We went up “Shiatown hill” at a ridiculous pace – a 5% hill at 21-1/2-mph and then cruised down the back of the hill to our left turn. We stopped to wait a minute for anyone dropped in the hills and caught our breath. We gave it almost a minute and nobody had come around the bend at the top of the hill so we rolled out – single-file. We had Dave & Val on their tandem, Doc Mike, Chucker, Clark, Dale, Dave and me. We took it easy(ish) up the next hill, then turned on the gas on the way down into town.
I ended up the leadout for the Vernon City Limits sign and gave it everything I had to keep it at 25+ mph over the line. Nobody came around to sprint – I think, with eight miles to go, we were all just content with hammering them out.
We had a nice downhill section after clearing a rough intersection and even with the little headwind left, we made great time of it and kept our speed up. Six to go, an uphill section still north of 22-mph, we were picking them up and putting them down. Five to go we turned for the homestretch, a crossing headwind of a breeze. We kept the speed up, between 22 & 25-mph, taking it a little easy on the hills (what little one’s we had left) and picked up the pace on the flat and downhill sections.
At the turn, when we parted ways with the Elite group, we were sitting on a 24.3-mph average. With the hills and headwind we’d dropped to 23.5 but it was holding steady there. With a mile to go, it was all downhill and we made the most of it, jockeying for position for the sprint finish. I was content to just hold wheels and let the others go for the glory of finishing the ride first. I hammered across the line in the middle of the pack at 28-mph, a solid 23.5 (38 km/h) average showing on the computer.
The ride back to the parking lot was all hi-fives and fist bumps all around. And that brings us back to the beginning of the post. There is something I can’t put my finger on about a fast ride like the one we had last night that just puts a smile on my face. I’m going to have to do some thinking on this because I felt fantastic straight through till my head hit the pillow. What a ride!
28.16 miles in 1:12:03. 430′ of up. 259 watt estimated average power.