Sorry to be so long between posts, but it’s been a busy week around here. My wife’s mother passed away last weekend, so everything was put on hold as trips had to be made, arrangements finalized, and services held. We’re back to normal now.
I was ready for a good ride this morning, and the club president designated Fitzhugh Road as our route this week. That suited me fine. I like Fitzhugh, since it’s out in the country and features a lot of rollers. Usually, I’m on my own, dropped within the first 10 miles. I turn around at a road that will give me a 30-mile round trip. Today, I planned to go the entire route, for a 46-miler.
Maggie, whom I rode with last week, was on hand as well. She’s relatively new to the club, and had only ridden Fitzhugh once before, on her first ride with the club. That time, she tried valiantly to keep up with the A’s, but couldn’t do it. Today, with me in tow, she had a good chance to see the route.
The ride got off to a fast start. The A’s tend to hold back and warm up for about six miles or so, but today, they were gone in about three. “These things take on a life of their own,” said my friend Rick, who himself was “moseying” along on the ride after going hard the previous day. “Somebody goes off the front, and some others think they have to keep up with him, and next thing you know, it’s like a race.”
We were doing anything but racing. Although Rick might have been moseying, it was all I could do to keep him in sight. Maggie, too, got well out in front. The endless rollers kicked my butt, which bothered me after riding well last weekend on another route that had a lot of rollers. But these were more frequent, and some were tough.
Finally, it was just Maggie and me. We decided to throttle back a bit and enjoy the ride. After all, we still had to get to the turnaround point, and then make our way back home — another 23 miles.
Once we cross Ranch Road 12, the landscape becomes more rural. I had heard of a ranch with wildebeest along the road, but had never seen them on previous trips along here. But Maggie, who was leading me by a bit, called out, “Wildebeest!” and there they were — a nice herd of maybe a dozen or so, off to the left, milling around in some trees. After passing the exotic game ranch last week, this was another wildlife treat.
We had almost reached the turnaround, when she called out again. “Look at the turkey!”
A wild turkey was poking at some dried grass, several paces back from the road. We were almost at the turnaround, and knew we would see him again on the way back.
The nice thing was, the group was still at the turnaround when we got there. We had a chance to grab some water, and shared a sandwich. But the last ones to the rest stop get the shortest rest, and in minutes, we were headed back the way we had come.
Some of the A riders at the turnaround.
Maggie and Bike Noob. I really am not that grumpy on rides, but I had just dropped part of my sandwich. The road we took is in the background.
Sure enough, the turkey was still pecking away when we passed by again. And once again, we were quickly dropped by the A’s. But just as in the previous week, some of them were sidetracked by a flat tire, that turned into two flats as one of the guys who stopped to give aid was also punctured.
We regrouped at a convenience store to shed layers, now that the sun was warming things. That was good, because we all got to start in a group again, and the first 200 yards after the convenience store is in the center lane of a four-lane highway, so that we can make a left turn onto another semi-rural road.
It took no time for the A’s to leave us behind. We both laughed, and Maggie allowed that going slower was good, because that way, I could show her the tricky twisting route back through an unfamiliar neighborhood. We finally pulled into our regular Starbucks starting point, 46 miles and 2600 feet of climbing under our belts.
The only seats left at the outdoor tables were with several of the really fast A’s, who invited us to join them.
“Did you see the turkey?” asked Maggie. “Turkey? Uh uh,” said one. “It was pretty neat, right along the road,” she said.
“Did you see the wildebeest?” I asked. They shook their heads again.
“You see, the problem with being fast riders is that you’re focused on the road straight ahead, and you miss all the cool stuff,” I said.
“We saw a roadrunner,” said one of the guys. But we can see roadrunners on any trip around the Veloway right here in town. Wildebeest and wild turkeys, not so much.
So being a B-level rider does have its advantages. I’m already looking forward to next week’s ride to see what we will see that the others, in their single-minded pursuit of speed, will miss.