Das Boot!

It turned out to be a great weekend to begin that transition from conversant rides into the inevitable suffer-fests that really define this sport.  On Saturday of this first weekend day of spring break, a small group did an old favorite, Mahalasville returning on Lick Creek.  It was a solid ride with Colin, Gary, Ryan Preske, Joe Dempsey and Aaron Prange and a guest, Jeff. We had a strong showing on the final stretches of Lick Creek toward 45 with several of us managing strong pulls all the way in.   The ride was otherwise fairly uneventful except that Gary was visited by the god of punctures three times; once on Cascades, then a sidewall blowout on Low Gap (which we fixed with a ‘boot’ made from an old tubular casing), then again on South Shore.

This was just to be a warm up for Sunday’s adventure. We were met with a steady wind out of the south for our weekly cycling social experiment on 446 to the flashers.  16 or so started the ride including Fred Rose, Ryan Shanahan, Gary Palmer, Emily Palmer, Colin Allen, Jeff Thompson, Joe Dempsey, Lyle Feigenbaum, Aaron Stanley, Cameron Johns and me (all from Scholars), Chris Kroll and Bob Brooks (Joes Bikes), Adam Rodkey (Speedway), Tomas Golaz (DRT), Kevin (unattached) and Brett (A Pi).  A veteran racer joined us (English Prof Terry Dibble, IUPU Columbus), and former Connecticut State Road Champion in the 1970s!  We chatted for a while about ancient history until we got to Moores Pike and the future interjected like a pop quiz on Fahrenheit 451.

The ride heated up early, right after the turn on 446 when Ryan took control of the group and surged ahead.  We were single file with all the right engines in just the right places on or near the front.  They were taking long, powerful pulls and the effects were telling on the tail.  Soon we were 15.  We hit the base of the Causeway and the principles started it in the big chainring.  9 leapt ahead; Shanahan, Rose, Kroll, Brooks, Rodkey, Palmer, Stanley, Thompson and Kevin.  3 were in a small chase group; Allen, Johns and Dempsey.  Lyle and I were just behind.

Earlier in the ride, during a particularly devastating acceleration, a rider next to me said “welcome to the Sunday Worlds!”  I replied that I thought it was fitting.  Especially for this course and for this time of the year.  Now is the time to plumb the depths of our wells and see how deep they are.  It’s still a long season, one that is just beginning.   Those of us with several seasons under our tires know the empty feeling of being out of gas in July, and we don’t want to go there.  But today offered intermittent opportunities to accept the challenges thrown down by others or to fall into a chase group for another type of challenge.    It’s all in a day’s work for us as we welcome the season ahead.

Lyle and I met a group at the top of the final climb to Route 58, never quite managing to catch on but keeping them in check most of the way.  Allen had flatted and repaired at the top.  The leaders had gone on to the Route 50 flashers 4 miles beyond.  Once Colin sorted out his puncture about 6 of us headed for home,  but his puncture was not his last and the two of us stopped again a few miles ahead, sending the others up the road.

His original puncture left a gaping hole that a shard of glass once occupied.  “I have a boot” I said.   Again repaired, we settled into a fast return, taking perfectly timed pulls into a warm tailwind.