We had an interesting mix yesterday for what looked like it was going to be an easy day on the dirt. I’ve been infatuated with my mountain bike a lot lately, so I decided to bring it. Then, what do I see coming down the road than exceptionally classy older fella in immaculate kit – a former age group National Champion sprint triathlete on his gravel bike.
Mike outclasses me, even at his age, when we’re on equal bikes – even at his age. He’s a machine. In fact, it’s almost a fair fight when I’m on my gravel bike with semi-slicks and he’s on his half-fat mountain bike. Almost.
Still, I thought, I’ve got cover from Mike, Diane and my wife… I should be fine.
The ride started out south, heading into a nasty headwind. It wasn’t too terrible, though. I just slid into line behind a few people and tried to get as low as I comfortably could. I was up with the front group when we started to split up and I was feeling fine. We dialed it back to close up the gap and rode along, talking the whole way. It was a lovely morning and not near as cold as I’d expected it would feel.
And before I knew it, Mike, Diane and my wife split off and went their own way. I was left with McMike, Chuck and Chuck. Every one on a gravel bike but me, on my 28 pound Rockhopper.
I did fine keeping up, but heading south, I got caught at second bike for a long stretch, then took a turn up front. The wind was whipping and my heart rate went from the mid-130’s to 175 in the space of 30-ish seconds. Once I’m over 172, forget about it. I’m pooched. I just had enough gas to latch on at the back after a silly minute-long pull up front (I was a little embarrassed). I knew what was going to happen next. At least, I thought I knew – and I wasn’t going to be able to keep up with it.
I quietly slipped off the back, turned my bike around and headed back home.
And that was that. The ride home was quite enjoyable with lots of tailwind and a cruising speed of 18-22-mph. Before I knew it, after a few add-on miles, I was on the home stretch and then in the driveway. My wife had just gotten home, hadn’t even gotten out of her gear yet, when I walked through the front door. I was quite pleased, really. I had almost a 14-mph average after the slow start.
The rest of the day was awesome. A light lunch, a long nap, some college football (‘Merican football), and my mother-in-law came down with her sister and we all went out to dinner, then to see my daughter’s university “Band-o-rama”. All three bands play a few songs. The symphonic band (was great), the wind symphony (was spectacular), and the marching band (blew the doors off). What a fantastic way to spend a late-fall Saturday!
Sadly, when I looked at Strava, I noticed the two Chucks and McMike had the same average I did when they got back. They had almost double my 22 miles, but they obviously didn’t hit the gas like I thought they would.