It was Mother’s Day, and I anticipated a small turnout for the Sunday club ride. But riders kept pulling into the parking lot in front of Starbucks. As we sat around the outdoor tables before the ride, there was a lot of good-natured banter. But once the women riders started to come in, New York John said it was time to stop.
“We sound like a buncha construction workers from the ’50s,” he said. He was right.
I was starting to get concerned. The women — Janice, Pippa, and Judy — are all pretty fast. All the guys were fast. When the club president said we should get going, it was apparent that I was the only B-level rider out today.
We always start out easy. I rode at the front with Joe, the president, and we talked about my rear wheel. Our club mechanic had it all day Saturday, and told me it was on its last legs.
“If you replace the rim, the hub is still shot,” he said. “If you replace the hub, the rim is in bad shape.” He said I should start shopping for a new rear wheel.
Joe offered to lend me a set of American Classics he has in his garage.
“It’s nothing imminent,” I said.
“That’s not the point,” he answered. “Use this time to try out some different wheels. You’ll find out what you don’t like, as well as what might work for you.”
I think I might take him up on that offer.
The riders separated at the first big hill, about three miles into the ride. By now, I was in my accustomed place — at the rear. But Joe’s wife, Judy, wasn’t much ahead of me. She had ridden a killer club ride yesterday, which saw lots of hills out in the country. After that 66-mile jaunt, she was spinning easily today. Joe, as he often does on these rides, held back to ride with her. I caught up, and we were the gang of three, as the peloton quickly disappeared ahead.
Jordan, a club member who lives closer to downtown, met us about 15 miles into the ride. He had tried to time his start to meet up with the main group. “But they were having a criterium!” he exclaimed. Joe and he talked about how the Sunday ride does tend to become a race among the faster A’s.
We rode along Shoal Creek Drive, which is a popular in-town biking route. It is a two-lane arterial through a nice residential part of the city, and has generous bike lanes in each direction. By this time, I wondered where we would meet the A’s on their return leg. I guessed that they would be at a convenience store where we make a rest stop on this route. But they weren’t there.
However, it was only another mile or so before we encountered them, blasting down Shoal Creek in our direction. We turned around to ride with them, and all pulled into that convenience store for a break.
Joe had proposed a departure from the usual return route, to tackle more hills on the west side of town. New York John had other ideas. He had also been on the previous day’s long ride, but he rode an extra 20 miles, because instead of driving to the ride start, he rode from Starbucks. That effort was catching up to him.
“I’m goin’ back the way we came,” he said. “And head home on Mopac (an expressway) instead of the long way.” I agreed.
I thought we had more takers, but it was just John, me, and one other guy. We hit some big hills just past downtown.
“My legs are like jelly!” John complained. He still managed to stay ahead of me. John is 65, but rides a carbon Specialized Roubaix, and is probably 60 pound lighter than yours truly. Over the last two miles, he steadily pulled farther ahead of me. By the time I got to Starbucks, his bike was already on his car’s rack.
It was a good ride for me, but if two tired A riders hadn’t hung back from their usual Sunday pace, I would have been completely on my own. I’ve got some time off work until the summer session begins, and I’ll be spending a lot more time on the bike than I have been. I’ll never become an A, but at least I can build up the stamina to stay closer to them.