I knew we were going to have a small crew for Saturday’s ride. Barry Roubaix, one of the biggest dirt road races in the country, was going to be rolling out bright and early just a couple of hours away and most everyone I ride with was there. My wife also had a salon appointment with our daughters, so she wasn’t riding, either.
Only Mike and Diane rolled up for the start. We rolled out at 8, right on time. Diane was going to split early because she had things to do, but Mike and I had our sights on a long one… we’ve got rain for the next couple of days, so this was going to be it.
A couple of miles later, we picked up Brad and Dave. A few miles after that, Phill joined as well. And just like that, we had decent group.
Mike was making jokes that they were about to ride me like a rented mule, so I knew early on I’d be taking long turns up front… and this is was all good with me. As long as everyone else was good with my five mile pace, I’d do my turns. Mike wasn’t afraid of doing his time, either… as it turned out, nor was Phill or Dave. Phill is the feel-good story of the year in our group. He’d struggled to keep the pace for years, but bought a new tandem this year that he rides with his young granddaughter. The extra work has him riding better than Mike and I have ever seen.
Diane headed home after fourteen miles and the rest of us pressed on, into a bit of a breeze. The remaining five of us just cruised. The pace wasn’t too demanding, nor too easy. It was quite awesome, actually. The sun was out and playing nice, but it was a cool start. Arm warmers and jackets were shed and stowed in back pockets at our second stop. After which, it was just straight cruisin’. Nary a care in the world. Even traffic played relatively nice.
Hitting the homestretch with 50 miles under my belt, I knew I was going to have to add a few to get 100 Ks. Mike had come off a tailwind pull and we had one into the wind that I knew I was going to have to take (Mike’s taken that mile for the last few weeks and he wasn’t about to take it again. I didn’t blame him a bit and rode around him as we made the turn. After, I told Mike that if he’d give me a couple of miles to rest, I’d pull the remaining 8. And that’s how it broke down. Phill had dropped a while back to head home and Brad was next as we passed his house. Then Dave, who turned to head home. That left Mike and I for the final four to get him to his road. I pulled all of them.
I started running out of gas shortly after turning into a mild headwind – that last mile to Mike’s house. I’d ridden the whole thing on one gel and a clif bar. No breakfast… I figured it’s time to do something about this extra weight I’m carrying and I’m going back to some of the old tricks I used to follow when I was, erm, skinnier. A decent ride at a moderate pace on almost no fuel is one.
All in all, it was a fantastic ride. This late in the season, it was a gift.