Hey Mr. Bolt, just TRY and keep up with this guy....
The Methow was forecast to be scorching so we opted for a rare summer weekend on the west side. Hottie and I had a great ride Saturday before our own temperatures got ugly.
An invite for a longer Sunday ride in combination with the promise of cooler temperatures sounded like a good opportunity to log some miles with the Winthrop Fondo looming.
The tragedy of the day was a text from El Chefe’ that a work emergency had arisen and despite his plan to ride including preparatory Buttonhole swipeafication, he had to miss the day’s ride.
Eight men in black and orange departed and headed south.
With Moonlight Burnside rumored to still be on vacation even those not in for the full Monty opted to continue south and skip Mercer Island.
It was a very social group highlighted by a rare KB sighting. Guy was also back from his European tour and the usual suspects were out as well. McWoodie, Big John, The Cheetah, Mr. T., Aaron and I were all in costume in addition to the riders mentioned earlier.
Thanks to the ability to download courses we followed the zigs and zags as McWoodie herded us onward toward Auburn. We called out Hank and Einmotron by name as the route took one bizarre turn after another. Most of us were looking forward to downloading the data later in the day to find out exactly where we were riding.
Nearly ninety minutes into the ride five of our group turned around to meet domestic obligations. They set off northward unsure of the route but hopeful that the sun would come out and if they kept the sun on their right side they would eventually find familiar scenery and make their way home.
At this point it was just me, McWoodie and Big John. We were on a weird mixed use trail and the pace stayed mellow. This could be fun I thought to myself. We could catch up on recent events and bond emotionally whilst discussing candles and our deepest feelings. Koom... Bye... Yah!
In no time we were back on roads and without a word we formed a paceline. Because murderers are murderers the pace ratcheted up ever so slightly with each rotation. The display I keep on my bike computer shows HR and cadence but not speed. When I came to the front I checked my cadence and tried to keep it constant without shifting and watched my HR climb. When it hit my self-imposed limit I rotated back.
This worked for a bit then my pulls got shorter and shorter. Finally I was dropping back and just taking the draft. Finally I was popped off. I could have held on but we weren’t even halfway through a planned hundred mile day and I was not about to explore Z5.
These murderers are, however, really nice guys and they soft pedaled until I caught up and we tried it again but this time they ramped it up more slowly. Wicked these men are. Following the only real climb of the ride we arrived at the Black Diamond Bakery.
The bakery is a popular destination both with bikers and non-bikers. The pastries weren’t bad but did not seem to justify the fifty miles we had ridden to get there.
The clouds were still thick and despite the hot temperatures of the previous day the morning was significantly cooler and I was chilled when we pulled out. I recalled being cold when I had ridden this route with El Chefe’ one January day and that the rolling post-bakery route had warmed me that day. I expected the same this day.
I noted that my Castelli gloves were soggy and wondered if any fingerless gloves can stay dry on a long ride. We made a couple of wrong turns only to have McWoodie correct us and get us back on the proper route.
We turned onto what seemed to be the familiar winding of what I thought was Jones Road. It turned out to be Maxwell Road pretending to be Jone Road. Then after the Hank-ish detour we were indeed on the actual Jones Road.
On both of these roads McWoodie and Big John rode side by side and I just tried to hang on. These roads are alternates to faster roads so they were light on traffic. There seemed to be a bit of an unspoken challenge going on between the two of them and I was happy to remain a witness and enjoy the draft. Even in the draft I was working hard. These guys are strong.
As the donut induced sugar coma wore off I chomped on a bar and drank my skratch to ensure I would not bonk. I checked the distance and the kilometers were ticking by.
As we returned via Renton we followed the pattern that has been established over years if not decades. We rode around the airport side by side at a conversational pace. Then when we got onto Rainier we lined up and slowly ramped it up.
The sequence on Jones and Maxwell had me feeling strong and McWoodie and Big John feeling perhaps a bit worse for the effort. On Pizza Hill I accelerated past Big John and McWoodie and McWoodie answered the call and rode next to me to the top. He didn’t pass me though he could have dropped me in a second had he been so inclined but he wasn’t about to let me go solo. "Get in line Davo," was the unspoken message.
Perhaps one of my favorite parts of a long ride is when you come up on other riders and you have a significant distance behind you and you just take it easy knowing your big work is behind you. It is a chance to ride easy and savor the accomplishment of the days ride. I love that.
That didn’t happen this day.
Instead, with eighty miles in our legs we were taking hard pulls and flying along Lake Washington Boulevard. I’m hitting Zone 5 and my legs are past hurting, they are in shock asking what the hell is going on.
We are drilling it and with the end of the ride approaching there isn’t anything left to save it for. My quads hurt, my hamstrings hurt, my adductors are twitching and my right foot is barking as well. My low back, ass and hip flexors have joined the pain party. Yet I’m still pushing. I am almost embarrassed to admit I am enjoying this. I am loving this. I am crazy. I am a maroon. I am not, however, the fastest maroon and after a while I am dropped.
Once again my torturers show mercy (or a desire to make me hurt more) and soft pedal to let me catch up. I get out of the saddle to close the gap and my quads feel like they have been beaten with a stick. We regroup and ride the final kilometers together.
The most famous quote from Greg Lemond is in regard to training wherein he said, “It never gets easier, you just go faster.” As if to contradict this wisdom on the final climb back to our starting point it was indeed easier. We weren’t going fast but I guess the fitness hangover from the Dolomites was still in effect and I was able to ride up hill and recover at the same time.
After parting I got to my car and put my bike in the back and took off my shoes. I was sweaty and sticky and tired. McWoodie called me on the phone and I was barely coherent. My body knew I was done and was shutting down. It took longer than it should have for me to get headed home.
Once home I cleaned up and put my clothes in the wash. Then I sat down in front of the TV and fell asleep. I take one or two naps a year. This was one of them.