So I couldn’t get an old song out of my head….”Jessie’s Girl” on today’s ride. And that’s not the bad news. The weekend went by in a blur, however, thanks in part to a moderate ride yesterday with Guy East, Chris Kroll, Colin Allen, Lynn Allen, Gary Palmer, Emily Palmer, Kevin Hays, Jeff Thompson and Mark Powell. We did a meandering ride in incredibly cold temperatures clockwise around Monroe and Owen counties. I was lucky to have made it out there at all as I was invited to a party Friday night at our sponsor’s and left late at night, alone, thinking it best not to drive home. I have a fixed gear bike in my office nearby, which I attempted to ride, but thought better of it (no helmet or lights handy). So, I walked the three miles home, arriving at 2:00am. We have a guest room in the basement, nicknamed the dog house, which is where I ended up. There is a good chance that I’ll be there again tonight. My only solace, a tv and a refrigerator stacked with Belgian ale. That song was still ringing in my pounding head as I looked for a blanket.
Today’s ride was well attended and it was balmy compared to Saturday’s icy ride. Every Sunday we ride to the flashers and back. Today was no exception. Eleven riders came to the downtown Bakehouse. I was there early, armed with a cup of Highway 37 coffee, speaking easily with newly minted Cat 1 Chris Kroll (Upland). Fred Rose came in, then Jeff Buschbaum (Bakehouse). Outside were Jake and Brant (BKB), Mark Powell, Colin Allen, Jeff Thompson, (all from Bakehouse), Hans Ibold (Joe’s) and Kevin Hays. We headed out of town on 1st street to Covananter to 446 in the usual way. Along the way we picked up Karim Abdelkader (MOB) and Adam Rodkey (Speedway). It was shaping up to be a fast romp to the lights. But it wasn’t. We were fast for sure, but the group was two by two all the way out. Steady and disciplined. We lost Buschbaum to a mechanical on the climb out of the causeway and Rodkey flatted.
After Adam’s flat the group moderated its pace, but it would be minutes before Adam would even be back on his bike. As an experienced mechanic and racer, we knew that he was able to easily get sorted so we carried on. Jake and Kevin were on the front for a long time keeping a lid on the activity in the event of Adam’s early chase, once they pulled off, the pace picked up again and we focused on the task at hand. It was Kroll and Jake who set the mark hard and fast up the final climb to the first flashers. Karim had enough and would turn back early. Strongmen Kroll and Rose would carry on an additional 4 miles to the next flashers. The rest of us would turn back.
In our group, the fireworks started early. Ibold got the pace started up the climb, the wind now generally left to right across the road. Soon Brant and Jake took control of the small group and proceded to pound away at us to the next pitch. I was on Powell’s wheel when we reached the small ascent, blasted stone walls to the right. If you looked only at that it could be a scene from a moonscape. He was equal to the BKB boys, now dropped after their massive effort. I was on Mark’s wheel when I threw out the parachute, gapping Thompson and Allen, and Jake and Brant behind me while Ibold, Rodkey (who joined us near the turn) and Hays would slowly roll away from us. The BKB riders recoverd and came back to our chase group, and instantly went to the front in an impressive display of late season fitness. Our Master’s triumvirate were no match for the young guns as they kept the pressure high. We watched them bridge to the leaders as we struggled to put a gambit together from behind. We were strong but not in the same measure or depth and we would lose yards in every mile to the disappearing group ahead.
I sensed the frustration of my comarades as we struggled to gain a foothold. I was no match for their power today and I missed several turns, only adding to the ineffectiveness of our chase. despite this, my chase partners waited graciously for me at the top of the last few climbs heading back to Knightridge, proving that it’s not the only victories that matter, it’s the acceptance of the challenges that lie ahead of us that make us who we are.