It was shaping up like a typical frigid winter training day. It was Saturday and don’t always participate in the noon team ride, usually selecting Sunday as the weekend day that I will bear the wrath of the family for checking out for several hours. But today’s course was appealing as it generally worked its way back past my house after about 30 miles. The course actually went longer, via Paragon, but I had planned to go south after Anderson and Old 37. The dishes in the sink can wait.
When I left the house at 11:15 the wind was strong and out of the Northwest. The temperature at the sign on College Avenue by Champs Elysees spa said 29 degrees. But the sun was out and the wind was at my back. I arrived at the downtown Bakehouse overheated and overdressed. I recently joked with a teammate that I need to overdress because I no longer can just go faster to increase my body heat on a cold day. The Bakehouse was packed and I was able to slip into the back of the line during a lull to get a coffee, thanking Jessie for the the mug . I was people-watching while I was waiting for others to arrive, trying to guess where they were from by their mannerisms.
Just before noon Gary arrived, then Jon, Kevin and Colin. 5 of us, I thought. That’s too bad because it usually means that during a winter ride with 2 abreast that one rider is alone. And because the pace is usually easier, the pulls are longer so you’re alone longer at the back. Winter riding is a social time for many of us. But soon we’ll be putting on a different, darker mask as we begin to shift from these base miles into higher quality work. I know that many of you have already begun this part of your training. Today was the start of the Midwest Collegiate Cycling calendar with several local cyclists competing at Lindsay Wilson. It was the least I could do to just show up for a training ride.
We were just about to leave when a tall, fit rider in a pro kit showed up. He had apparently rushed to get over here and needed some food to take with him, so he went in and picked up a scone from the Bakehouse. He was riding a team Orbea full carbon ride and it was clear he knew how to put it to good use. When he walked into the restaurant we knew there was something different about this rider. He looked familiar, but it’s so hard to tell when someone’s on the bike. I remember as a tennis player in college that you could often tell how good a player was by the way they shook your hand or made an imaginary wave of a racquet in the air, our brains becoming so adept at identifying nuance in order to exploit a weakness. This rider was a professional.
It didn’t take long for me to realize that it was Guy East, former Kelly Benefit pro. We all paired off and headed out to 446 in the usual way. We took long moderate pulls, not too hard, not too easy. Guy seemed to be setting an easy tempo for us. I was on his wheel for a good portion just watching the effortless way that a professional with thousands of hard miles on their legs turns over the pedals, watching that little ‘snap’ at the bottom of the stroke and the full, languid circles. I don’t think that the others knew who he was at first but I was enjoying listening to each ‘discover’ the talented, young, affable and unassuming rider who was with us. You would have enjoyed the ride today. You would have liked riding with Guy.