The green flag has dropped on Summer Vacation. Several of my orange-clad brethren are out of town gathering experiences that will be fodder for post ride coffee lies in the coming weeks. Often in the middle of summer our weekly rides have more than a dozen members. Only four of us rolled from the hill this past Sunday. Missing from our group were the riders who typically ensure the rest of us hurt on our "Social" team rides. McWoodie and Einmotron don’t suffer slow riders but they weren’t riding this day and Big John would be joining late. Moonlight is off in Europe so there was a chance for a sane ride.
The road to recovery from the Ellensburg Fondo turned out to be very curvy. While I felt invincible Sunday, Monday and Tuesday after the ride, my bike commute on Wednesday had been a slugfest and when I bumped my quad Saturday it was remarkably tender. As we rolled along Lake Washington my legs let me know they didn’t feel like playing today. Why didn’t I listen?
We picked up The Wizard of Coz and we were now five strong. The morning was hot and despite the early hour my jersey was already wet from sweat. These are great days when the pile of laundry from a ride could fit in your helmet. I recommend you don’t actually put it in your helmet as that already has its own smell issues.
Off the back already I let the gap grow on the bridge to Mercer Island. On the short climb onto Mercer I unzipped my jersey a few inches as the distance to my compatriots expanded even more.
There is a spot where we traditionally stop to shed layers and regroup before initiating the throw down. With the temps already in the high seventies there were no layers to shed. Tradition dictated a stop anyway. There they stood waiting for me. Without a word I rode past the group and launched on the downhill.
I was flying !!
I figured that since my legs already hurt I might as well have them hurt a lot and didn’t expect my bluff to last long. If I went out on a solo breakaway then when they passed me I could drift back having earned some imaginary and ultimately worthless points for my foolish effort.
Doing the unexpected often results in a slow reaction as was the case here. I still had a good gap when I started the first climb. The orange train caught me near the top and I was able to latch on taking advantage of the lesser grade.
Coz took a long pull and Aaron was his usual strong self. El Chefe took a full turn at the front as did Guy. At one point we slowed and I attacked again just to mess things up. I was expecting a protest but the group responded by letting their legs do all the talking. We reformed and I rotated back. It was a dirty trick but I felt little remorse.
I feel just turribull......Ha !
It was the perfect day to have a mellow ride and I would have been the first to sign up for that yet here I was dishing out some pain. Why I was so inclined to poke the bear I have no idea. I was dreading an afternoon of bathroom demolition and this may have been an opportunity to exercise some demons.
As we hit the hill I attacked seeking KOM points. As my cadence slowed my quads screamed yet I embraced the hurt. I tried to make them hurt more. At the top I collected max points and was predictably blown. One by one the orange men passed me. I imagined them silently cursing. Soon it was just El Chefe’ and I trading pulls with the other riders fading from view up ahead.
On the return trip I thought we would be able to "keep it real." Then we spotted Big John who had come to join us. Under the leadership of Coz we formed a double paceline and rotated through once executing near perfect military precision. On the second rotation my ADD nature kicked in and I asked El Chefe if he thought Big John would jump on my wheel if I attacked. He didn’t need words as his expression seemed to say, "Does the Pope shit in the woods?" Big John had raced a crit the day before and if ever there was a day he should let me go this was it. Did I think logic would prevail?
Not a chance.
If it makes you feel better to call it, "drafting" go right ahead.......
I attacked from the back so I had some good speed as I passed my teammates. In a nanosecond I could feel the orange helmet of Big John on my wheel. My breakaway caught, I soft pedaled to slow back to the previous pace but Big John kept the heat on and I found myself struggling to hold on. "Hey guys, I was just kidding," I pled from the back of the now-rollicking paceline.
There was no slowing and Big John had possession of the sharp end and seemed to have no intention of letting up.
Hang on......If you can !!!
On the penultimate short stinger before the final downhill and final uphill I jumped again and Coz was quickly on my wheel. I still don’t know what motivated me to keep stirring the pot this day. On the climb I caught and passed the bunch only to blow up again as Aaron powered past me followed by Big John.
My legs had felt dead when I started this ride and now they felt "even more deader" on the way back to Fuel for coffee. On the climb up Madrona my lowest gear didn’t seem low enough but I was able to make it without audible profanity.
Perhaps my logic had been that if my legs hurt I wanted everyone else’s legs to hurt as well. Maybe I had forgotten how slow I was and needed to push it so I could be dropped and find out. I typically don’t raise the ante in a game I expect to lose and my ability to bluff is limited.
As we neared Fuel I took an early turn and managed to get to Fuel first. I figured the least I could do after instigating repeated unnecessary suffering upon some of my best friends was to take care of the bill for the coffee.