The emails flew fast and furious last evening. Our usual time to leave for the Sunday club ride is 8:15 a.m., but the forecast called for temps in the 30s at that time. I had planned to go, but wimped out when I saw the prognostication. Looks like a lot of others did, too — including some A riders. We had 13 in all for the B ride this morning at 9.
One of the problems we have in Texas is that the weather is rarely that cold when we ride, so most of us don’t have the kinds of warm cycling clothes our Northern brethren have. I was feeling a bit out of place in my red long-sleeve jersey (over a short-sleeved club jersey) and screaming green vest, because our club kit is white, blue, and yellow. Most riders had at least a club jersey on the outside. Then Jerry D. pulled into the lot.
“I’m glad I called you to coordinate clothing,” I called to him.
“Why, we’re the Gay Blades today, aren’t we?” he retorted.
Lots of chatter before the ride about clothing. Many wore glove liners, multiple layers, booties, ear muffs. Then there was Brian, our club Canadian. He showed up in a windbreaker over a short-sleeved jersey, and shorts. “It’s nice to ride without 10 feet of snow on the ground,” he said. The temperature when we rolled out was 38 degrees (3C).
One of the reasons I enjoy the B rides is that ride leader Jordan insists on keeping them “pleasurefests,” as opposed to what he calls the “sufferfests” of the A rides. But some A riders joined our little group this morning. David V., a Cat 3 racer and the club bike mechanic, said he’d done a hard hills workout the previous day, and wanted a recovery ride. There was New York John, and Marianne, who rarely rides with the club. She brought Tom, a friend of her husband’s, who was fixed up with a less-than-perfect bike. It wouldn’t shift out of the big ring. That didn’t seem to bother Tom, who is visiting from Boulder. Pippa, another A rider, was there to keep Judy company. Judy would normally ride with the As, but has been recovering from two broken bones in her wrist, suffered during a fall (don’t brace!).
About three miles into the ride is our first challenge: Davis Hill. It’s an ordinary hill, that can be tough for newer riders. The problem is, there’s a stoplight just before you make the turn for the hill, and hill begins immediately. “The difference between As and Bs on Davis Hill,” said my friend Rick, “is that the Bs shift down and try to spin up the hill, and the As get out of their saddles and attack the hill.”
I attacked today, but I was huffing and puffing, and sitting down again by the time I got to the top — when to my left, Tom glided by. In the big ring. Not a care in the world. Okay, I won’t worry about him today, I said to myself.
We crossed Interstate 35, and were headed for the country, when David V. and New York John caught and passed us. We had taken a major road to the I-35 junction, one that had a short stoplight. David and John had taken a side street, but their stoplight was a long one. “I don’t know why you Bs complain about As going too fast,” said David, “when you leave us behind.”
Out in the country, I found myself next to Laura, who’s become a regular on the B rides. She was ecstatic over her recent bike fit. “I feel so much more power than I used to,” she said. Her husband Mike, one of our A riders, had taken her to a prominent local racer who fits bikes at a local bike shop. “He put some things on my shoes that keep the angle natural,” Laura explained. “The fit took about two hours. When Mike asked him if I already had nearly a good fit, he said I wasn’t even close. I can really feel the difference.”
At the turnaround in Creedmoor, Jordan asked me to explain the return route to everyone. We were riding a “lollipop” route, with the same out and return, but a nice loop in the middle. “When we get to the 90-degree right turn on the way we came,” I said, “look for the fork onto Thaxton Road. Take that.”
Back on the road, I was near the rear to keep tabs on one of our slower riders. Sure enough, when we got to Thaxton Road, Judy and Laura blasted by without turning. Several of us raised a shout to get them to turn around. I kidded Judy about missing the turn even after the route had been explained at the rest stop. She was unapologetic.
“When people start telling me directions, it’s like the teacher in the ‘Peanuts’ strip,” she said. “All I hear is Wah-wah-wah-wah-wah.”
I’m glad she didn’t miss it, because Thaxton Road was repaved last year, and it’s nice. The highlight for me is a turn at the top of a hill. We get to blast down into a subdivision on a smooth, wide two-lane with no traffic. I made sure everyone was behind me, and started down, pedaling hard in the big ring. At the bottom, I waited. And waited. I could see back to the top of the hill. Apparently they had decided to gather there to wait for slower riders. Eventually, I saw them coming down. When they finally caught up to me, I asked who had the highest speed down that hill. I had hit 34.8 mph. I figured at least a couple could go faster than that.
“I rode the brakes all the way down,” said one. “That was scary,” said another. “No way I was going to look at my computer going that fast,” said a third.
Two miles from the finish, we passed several of the fast group fixing a flat at the side of the road. We kept on to the finish. They caught up to us a few minutes later. Marianne had been the flat victim.
“A screw went right through the middle of my tire,” she said. “I got screwed, and I couldn’t even enjoy it.”
The outside tables at Starbucks were full. The A ride had come in after a trip out to the Formula 1 race track being built in Austin. The chatter was loud, full of laughs. Several passers-by stopped to ask about the club, its rides, average speed. We urged them to come out next week. It looks like the B rides will start at 9:15 for the next couple of months — everyone seems to like leaving then, instead of the earlier time. A good day in the saddle — the kind of day that makes me want to ride again.