The sickening thud of a falling rider
The Assault is Monday and I've been gearing up for the girlie portion of the ride - the Assault on Marion. As I've mentioned before, I hope to have a better chance of getting a number for next year's Assault on Mount Mitchell by riding this shorter route first. I have to keep reminding myself that I'm not prepping for the AOMM - I'm only going 73 miles and not 103.
Last night I rode my normal 20+ miles in one hour and then this morning I got up to ride with the Sunshine crew. Once again I determined I wasn't going to push it. Hee, hee.
The ride started off a little faster than usual. John (shop manager, Cat 3 racer, and founding member of Les Amis) and a Junior racer were up front. I wouldn't say we were flying, but where we normally would have been spinning along at 16 mph, we were pushing 18 to 20.
There were also two other riders that I remember from last year who weren't there last week. These guys were right up there as well. Feeling pretty good in my legs, I decided to join them.
Everything was fine until we got on Meece Bridge Road. Another rider had joined us after we left the shop and he was up in the front of us. As we approached a bridge (maybe it is the Meece Bridge) I saw the rider check up and wobble. John and I were right behind him and we split on either side.
Soon after we passed the end of the bridge, I heard it. It was that thud of a cyclist going down. My first thought was hoping that there wasn't anyone coming up fast behind him. Looking back, I saw that it was only the one rider.
I didn't go back for a closer look. I stopped at the next curve to motion cars to slow as the approached the bridge. After a time, he climbed back on and we continued. It appeared that the only damage to the bike was a broken brake lever. He didn't seem to have any scrapes. He certainly slowed down enough. Perhaps he just wasn't able to get his foot out of his pedal and he fell over.
After that excitement, the group was blown to pieces. It took a while for the group to pull together again, but we finished the ride without anymore excitement.
The good news for me is that I continued to pull with the big boys. On any sprint I decided to try, I did pretty well. Granted, today I chose my battles!
The most fun sprint was up to the intersection of Hwy. 253 and Darby Road. At first I thought I would hang back but I was able to jump on the wheel of a rider (I had never met) who came flying by me. I knew he was going somewhere, so I let him create our path.
We went flying past some of the riders in the rear of the pace line but then the line broke and it was each man for himself. The jockeying started and a couple of times I had to avoid another rider. Then there were just four of us (John had slowed for some reason) and the guy whose wheel I had enjoyed missed a shift up ahead. He did a great save! His rear wheel fishtailed, but he gathered it back in and kept going.
Sorry for the long post, but man! that was fun!