Another Sunday out and back team training session. It’s a ritual I have grown accustomed to. A small group assembled for the challenges of our fast 50 miler today. I met them in my neighborhood but there was already a split due to a flat, Because Cascades was closed for construction the group came down Dunn. We intercepted the second group by the dog park there and turned for the course. After a brief stop at my house to gas up a soft tire, we made for Old 37.
It was a beautiful day, still cool but not cold, prompting arm warmers for the start. I remember thinking as I was waiting for the group in the sun, how fortunate I was to be right here, right now. And that nothing else mattered except to ride, and ride well. Kevin, Lyle, Brett, Cameron, Jeff B., Aaron, Fritz and me made up the groupetto. At the north base of firehouse hill Kevin was on the point and the pace was steady. I was on his wheel and had plans to organize the group into a rotating paceline with short, fast pulls. Knowing that this is what would return the fastest average speed for the day. We attempted to sort this out through the turn at Anderson, but it was clear that we were struggling with some of the timings. Cameron then took the lead on Anderson and began the series of long, hard pulls that would be the signature style for the day.
Jeff B (in TT regalia) turned for home on Bethel after having already worked out some sets earlier in the morning. Aaron turned back at the top of the climb on Low gap. Kevin led the way over the top on the way out followed by a second group containing Brett and Lyle (still stiff and recovering from an impressive crash during yesterday’s Indy race) and Fritz, showing good form. I was bringing up the rear, just a few meters behind Cam. I caught him at the top, we chased to the second group ahead, making contact on the flat run, still in the trees on Low Gap. Kevin had gotten away and the 5 of us had our work cut out for us as he increased his margin.
I had the freshest legs in the bunch and took the lead in the chase. I knew that to catch on we could either do it the hard way and close the gap quickly or work as a group, set up a paceline, rotate through and slowly bring our aggressor back. I chose the hard way! Not because I have the fitness, but because I had the opportunity. So I put my head down and clicked into a 53 x 17, then a 15, the a 13 and ratcheted up the speed to about 26-27 mph an pursuit of our quarry. Conversations had ceased, words had stopped. No one was coasting, even to make adjustments. The speed was too high. Only the sounds the rubber on the pavement were heard. I was having one of those golden moments where I felt as though I could manage this pace all day. No aches. No pains. No second guessing my fitness or focus or reasons. I was turning the pedals over effortlessly and trying hard not to wake up from this dream. Fritz was jettisoned after the long effort. We kept the pressure on all the way to the service station in Martinsville. Average speed nearly 24 mph for the first half.
After a brief stop, we turned back. We were met by Fritz as we exited the station. Within moments we were back up to speed. The pace was uncomfortably high all the way back. Kevin, Brett and Fritz crested the hill first and the rest of us followed. Fritz came back to us after a long chase but Kevin had slipped away for the victory. I led out the windup for the Anderson sprint line and both Cam and Brett took advantage with Cam finishing a convincing 2nd and Brett in 3rd.
We caught up to Kevin on Old 37 and rode back as a group. A few rode harder up firehouse hill and some stopped for water. Another high quality ride in the books for 2012. Who knows how many like this we have left.