I’m not a fast cyclist. That’s why I ride with the B riders in my club — we just can’t maintain the 18+ mph pace the A riders typically set on our Sunday morning rides. I enjoy going fast, but the descents that let me do that don’t come along all that often. Besides, right now, I’m training for endurance, not speed.
But this evening was different. I hit the Veloway for my usual Tuesday night ride. (Unrelated aside: Road Rash, a blog on the Austin American-Statesman site, did a piece on the Veloway recently. Here’s the link.) My plan for the ride was to hammer the uphills, which are gentle, but still make you work. I would back off on the downhills and flats.
I got through the first mile, which includes one of those uphill stretches, and then hit a fast downhill. I was moving at a good clip, so I decided not to ease off to ride the descent easily. Instead, I kept up the power, and pedaled hard for the first lap (3.1 miles). I finished the lap in just about 10 minutes, 20 or 30 seconds faster than my usual time around the course.
I slowed to an easy spin to get out my water bottle and take a drink. Two cyclists flew past me, one after the other. I put the bottle back in its cage. What the hey — the chase was on!
I figured I’d try to match their pace, which seemed faster than mine on the lap I’d just completed. It looked like they were going to match each other’s pace, without racing. I became third in line. The guy in the Slipstream jersey passed the guy in the Airborne jersey, and I followed. Airborne shot me a look of disdain. We went up the one steep hill on the Veloway, then hit a fast flat section. Our speed was 24 mph. I usually ride 20-21 through here.
Then, my least favorite part of the loop — a curvy incline that scrubs off your speed quickly. I tried to match the pedal strokes of Slipstream, and kept it in the 15 mph range. Usually I slip to 12 here.
On the last section of the course, I passed Slipstream. The ess curve, then the end. I slowed to take another drink. Slipstream went by — his pace hadn’t slowed a bit. Then Airborne passed, looking straight ahead. What the hey — here we go again!
There’s no point in relating a turn-by-turn account of the next lap — or the one after. I never passed those two guys again, but I did stay close. I finished four laps around the Veloway, and figured I’d try to maintain my speed on the three-mile ride home.
Total distance: 17.76 miles. Avg. speed: 17.65 mph (Yes, it took me 22 seconds longer than an hour to complete the ride). Fastest average speed ever for a ride of an hour or longer. Pretty wimpy for the A riders out there, but by keeping up a decent pace through the entire ride — without tiring — I was breaking new ground for me. I’m looking forward to trying this kind of ride again — sometime.