Pride cometh before the fall

68 riders showed up for an Indianapolis-based Wednesday Spring training ride with several elite present. Nervously talking about their fitness and miles to date, searching in the eyes and legs of their rivals for a weak link.  5 teams were represented with 3 or more riders.  It was in the high 50s but cool and the wind was blowing steady at 15mph out of the southwest. I did a 10 mile warm up in anticipation of a fast start and I wasn’t disappointed!  We left the parking lot, made a right turn on Ditch road in Carmel and were in the tailwind at 27 mph. On these straight, long roads through the cornfields of Indiana, you go a long way before you have to turn.  We were chatty at the beginning but soon were all jockeying for position in the front, anticipating the left turn into the wind.  The initial sorting out had begun.  At the turn echelons immediately formed.  I was lucky to force my way into the first one, literally riding in the gutter, a wheel’s width to the right of the rider ahead.  We were across the road in formation like geese coming home in the Spring.  The group split immediately with riders begging for a wheel.  Gaps of four feet seemed like miles. After one of my pulls at the front, I got caught briefly in no man’s land, exposed to the wind after my pull with no one coming around me.  At 25 mph I was victimized, drifting back on the windward side of the line trying to get some shelter.  Finally, I was able to duck in and recover, still in the first echelon of about 24 riders.  I stopped counting, unable to do the simplest math in my head.  After several attacks and recovery periods for the next 20 miles, with the young guns testing their mettle, we turned toward the finish.  A long (2 miles) stretch of road on a tailwind bent. We were going 28 mph and no one was going off the front except for a couple of TT specialists well known to the group. With 500m to go there was a lull.  I found myself at the front of the group, a remnant of an earlier surge.  Could I stay away?  With thoughts of Cancellara (!) in my head I jumped hard, I held 31+ mph for what seemed an eternity.  My world was getting dark and my lungs were like a coal fired bellows, begging for air.  I could feel the fibers in my legs screaming for mercy.  Where’s the line?  WHERE’S THE BLOODY LINE? A blurry yellow sign still 100m ahead vibrated in the wind.  I watched in slow motion as a group of 14 gathered steam and passed me by in twos and threes. Young men I had never seen before.   For one, brief moment I was heroic and then, more quickly forgotten.  I took a deep breath as I hung on to barely finish with the group.  Alas, pride cometh before the fall.  26 miles. 1 hour, 6 minutes. Another log entry. Another lesson learned.  Another to hopefully learn again!