Is there such a thing as a Kinder and Gentler flavor of Suffering?
Dry weather combined with the steady progress the calendar is making toward our June cycling epic created critical mass for a longer ride this past weekend. We didn’t have our usual Barn Burners out this week so we enjoyed a more congenial pace after leaving the Island.
For the avoidance of doubt; longer means longer with a TON of climbing. My weekly elevation totals change from hundreds of meters to thousands of meters. We try to get creative as we find routes to link up the local climbs without resorting to the mental torture of hill repeats. There are only a handful of climbs nearby that exceed a couple hundred meters and sooner or later we manage to climb them all.
Zoo Hill, Montrose, Lakemont, The soft side of Cougar, Sauk, Sake Pass and the Top of Cougar are names that cause my quads to quiver just saying them. Pizza Hill and Madrona get relegated to bumps in the road. When given the choice, at least for now, we always take the steepest option.
On this ride we regrouped often and those in front doubled back if they got too far ahead. During the ride it felt like I spent time riding alongside every other rider. On some of our more aggressive rides we typically split early and spend more time apart than we do together. On our Volcanoes trips I tended arrive at the food stops in time to see the fast guys leave.
This day our ride reminded me of the “Gentleman Style” riding we did at the Goldendale and Winthrop Fondos. Big John once commented that the Winthrop Fondo was among the best days he has ever had on a bike. In addition to the awe inspiring scenery the experience of suffering with our little band of brothers made that day standout. This ride had just a fraction of the suffering but it did have a similar vibe of brotherhood.
This group has been riding together for several years. We slogged out wet miles as a group back in the soggy late winter of 2012 as we prepared for the trip to the Alps that summer. Sharing all those months of preparation made the actual riding in France that much more enjoyable. Under warm sunny skies in France we laughed as we recalled the Medina Marge/Wet Sock ride that featured a three hour dance with hypothermia.
Never a bad time to confirm bike fit......
Over the years we have supported each other through job changes, parenting challenges, surgeries and prolonged recoveries. More than a few of our clan have stopped racing. For some, the Fondos are the perfect vehicle for the transition to civilian riding.
It strikes me as odd that so far in 2016 we have been averaging about a dozen riders each Sunday morning. Wet or dry, cold or colder our group is showing up. There was a Sunday back in 2010 when it was just Marc and I and that was it. We aren’t as fast in 2016 as we used to be and we appear to appreciate our post-ride coffee more than we did in the past.
Before you start humming “We are the world” and thinking we are a Peloton of Gandhi’s let me assure you that while we may be getting older and kinder, we are still pretty darn fast and every one of us looks forward to dropping you and your friends on a tough ride in the near future. We may regroup more than we used to but rest assured we don’t hesitate to call out Rule # 5 as early and often as required.
I look like this and then I get smaller and smaller
as I pull away from you as you gasp for life.