Grand Poobah, hiding while he injects himself with a cocktail of drugs. How else to explain his "Incredible" improvement?
The Thursday New Albany COP season started tonight and we had a good turnout of 45. Driving over I wondered how I would stack up, how the acquisition of the marsupial pouch and weight gain would effect me, if the lack of high intensity group riding would work against me, if I would have to endure the humiliation of Flyin Tuna dropping me, would using my winter beater bike drag me back, would I get there in time to grab the prime parking spot, etc...
I recall last year, everyone came out of hibernation with their winter legs except for Group Killer, who had trained at high intensity all winter. Whenever he rotated off the front, there was a dramatic drop in intensity but after observing the parking lot this afternoon, I suspected there were some in close to mid-season form. Bill, riding a green Madone, is a Cat 3 who has qualified for Cat 2. Redhead Bill, three Echelon guys, Walker guy, a rejuvenated Grand Poobah, Dennis, Recumbent Dude, Jeff S, Greg Hall and a variety of new young skinny guys. Also there was Flyin Tuna, Mark V, Tim F and making a surprise visit, Jim Richardson. Jim has apparently conquered his health problems and it was great to see him on a bike.
Recumbent Dude, heading to Miami tomorrow to begin preparation for a triathlon. I'm concerned his lack of experience will hurt him. Doesn't the pointy end go in back???
The route was 35 miles and a group of 15 A's headed out. The wind was strong out of the southwest but I suspected that once the group was cut up by the turn around, some of us would be suffering individually or in small groups on the return into that wind. We got on Jug and the pace picked up, I took a turn at the front and whoever was immediately behind me dropped off and I enjoyed a brief period of riding alone out in front and speculating wildly (and unrealistically) that I was Group Killer. Soon the others caught on and we maintained a high pace into Alexandria, onto Raccoon Valley and then turned left onto the ramp that signals the start of the 1.5-2 mile climb up Hardscrabble.
I jumped into the 2nd slot behind Green Machine (did I already say he is a qualified Cat 2?) and he picked up the pace, putting me quickly into the red zone and soon pulled away. The only comfort I took was no one was going around me either. Green Machine looked back to survey the damage. The answer: PLENTY!. He eased up and Redhead Bill steamed by and caught on, so too did Poobah and I grabbed Poobah's wheel. Redhead Bill can't match GM's accelerations but he can build to the speed and soon, he and GM were off the front with Poobah, I and Rich an Echelon guy hanging in there a little back. I frantically watched the horizon for a sign we were almost at the top. Finally, we reached it, GM, Red, Poobah, Rich and I. Poobah suggested we ease up to let some others catch on and I readily endorsed the idea. Kind of surprisingly, Recumbent Dude was first to catch on and then an Echelon guy and one or two others. We headed west on Concorde, south on Castle and got onto Miller and the long series of uphill ramps there. Green Machine powered away with Bill. I kind of blacked out then from exertion but I recall jumping on someone's wheel but made a bad choice. GM, Red, Poobah and Echelon Rich got a gap and there was no freakin way of closing it. To give credit where it is due, Poobah has come into the season in remarkable shape and at 57, he easily wins the strength to age ratio crown. I'm thinking about making a crude plaque out of pine, inscribing it and giving it to Poobah as the age/strength ratio champ for 2010. No one is going to be close to that award. Geez. Anyway, I slowed a bit, an Echelon guy caught me and we worked the remaining 10 miles together into a tough head wind. I watched my average slip from 21.8 at the start of Miller to 20.9 at the finish in New Albany and 35 miles. Not bad all things considered. Going through my mental file cabinet of those who rode and those who usually ride but did not make it, I can't see anyone beating Green Machine. Poobah exclaimed, "He's a Cat 1 quality rider."