If ever one was to hang with the A group for the entire route, tonight was the night to do it. The Boss is running a marathon next week so his preparation demands that he not extend himself. Steve O rode Assault on Mt Mitchell yesterday, forgot to dry his cycling shoes (caught in a rain storm during the ride) so had to ride his cross bike, Mark C had his hardest ride of the year yesterday at Grove City and was pooped, no retired pro or Cat 1/2 cyclists made a cameo appearance, the Cat 3 racers who sometimes show did not and, to top it all off, the route was flat (except for the end).
Group Molester and Da Boss
Only 40 cyclists came out, which seemed awfully low considering the great weather and little wind.
The route of 42 miles was interesting and thoughtful of someone to come up with one that was flat and like an early Tour de France stage but had a virtual mountain top finish at the end (for those who did not shortcut it and bypass the grueling finish). Only 11 of us headed out Basil Western at a delightfully lax pace and even turning north on Allen we were still almost soft pedaling. It was as if everyone was saving themselves for the end. A long stretch on Stemen brought us to the dead end at Cherry, where we turned south and rode into Baltimore. So far, The Boss, Grand Poobah, Steve, Polish Pony, Mark C, Ryan R, UPS Dude (a new guy who rides a white/red bike and overheard him say he weighed 135 and drove a UPS truck), Group Molester (damn him he is getting stronger and stronger...where is the limit switch?), Rock Racing Dude and me had made Baltimore, with only one guy dropping.
Coming out of Baltimore, Poobah flatted and the inexorable pace of the A group motored on, leaving my good buddy alone (I briefly pondered stopping but exposure to the A group has made me callous and a bad person). We took Leonard to the west, south on something, west on Carroll-Easternm left on Election House and then right on Plum. There had been a few rollers that created temporary gaps but always, the pace slackened and we retrouped. Even the hill on Plum was a snoozefest and we then cruised through Caroll, out Carroll Northern, left on Pleasantville and then, a right on Jefferson and that long but moderate grade up to Winchester Road. There had been some grumbling coming from the back of the bus about bypassing the twin towers of Amanda Northern and Slough and to be honest, I was tempted but decided my qualifications as a coward did not need burnishing so with dread, I turned left on Amanda Northern and started up. I have no idea who else was there other than those around me, Jamie, Ryan, Steve, Da Boss, Mark C, and UPS Dude.
We all hung together all the way to the top with heavy panting coming from we ultra competitive types who prefer to risk a heart attack rather than get dropped.. We then faced the short and steep descent to a stop sign and right hand turn onto Slough. The UPS Dude attacked the descent and I was amazed when he rounded the turn and created a massive gap just through aggressive cycling. Gosh I wish I could do that. Jamie and Mark C were not too far off and my energy deflated watching Jamie get such a commanding lead. I could imagine the Facebook beating I was going to take the next day, for sure. Ryan, Boss, Steve and me reached the foot of the climb and I pretty much had packed it in. As I started up the hill, I noted I was gaining on Jamie who was all over his bike and clearly on the rivet. I was emboldened and began shouting, "I'm gaining on ya big boy", followed by, "I'm almost in your shadow". but then, a car tried to pass us on the left while another car was coming down the hill....IDIOT!!!! However, there was still an opening on the right side but Jamie clipped out of his pedal, probably for safety but..... I'm not implying anything of course, just sayin...... well no, not really sayin anything just, you know, kind of unconventional and who can say why he clipped out at that exact moment with me breathing down his neck....just sayin...well no I'm not sayin anything..more babbling really....
Anywho, Jamie bombed the descent and passed me but I caught back onto the group and we cruised into Canal with 43 miles, 21.8 mph average and 1500' of climbing. Fun night but in the many, many days I have spent on a golf course I can never, ever remember suffering like this but having just as much fun and drinking beer too! There is something wrong with us