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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Then there were two

I really, really think this will be the last Thursday night ride for Art, Mike, and me. Tonight it ended up being just Art and me. Mike got some kind of sinus issue and decided not to make the run with us. So, we have gone from about 8 to 10 guys on Thursdays down to just two.

We met at 5:30 so we could get the ride in before it got dangerously dark. I hadn't been on the bike since Saturday and was still feeling a little banged up. However, I can almost make fists with my hands now and I had no trouble holding the bars. Shifting made me aware of the pain, but it was just annoying.

Just as we started out, the rain began to fall. Thankfully, it was a relatively warm evening and the misty rain actually felt good. Not more than five minutes into the ride the rain stopped. We even saw the sun peek through the clouds at one point.

We rode along talking about some books I was reading and other cycling type stuff. The we kind of separated for a little bit as we were going through some of the rolling and curvy sections of the ride.

Then we reached Paris Mountain. "Well, are we going to give it the old college try?" I asked. Art responded that it would be nice to have a good tailwind so that we could get a really great time since Mike wasn't there. It would be fun to rub it in later.

We hit the start at a good pace. We averaged about 11 mph until we reached that first straight climbing section. Once we worked through that, we were averaging just over 10 mph.

Even though - or maybe because - I hadn't ridden since Saturday, I was feeling pretty spry. I'm still in love with my Tarmac. There is a definite difference in how I feel on the bike. With Art setting the pace, I had a very good feeling about tonight!

Once we hit the halfway point, Art called out the time - 6:30. That meant we were on pace to have a 13 minute climb. Oh, that would be so nice! My best time up to this point has been 13' 16". Maybe this would be the night!

Like I said, I was feeling really good - even at this point. I knew I typically gain time on the final half of the ride, so I stood and enjoyed the feel of the Tarmac's response. I was moving!

About halfway up this section I started to realize that I had made a fatal error. When I was feeling good, I should have just sat back on Art's wheel and allowed him to pace me up. As it is, I had left him behind me during my burst, but here he came steadily moving ahead.

I grabbed a hold of his wheel and tried to recover. We made it to the last marker - a caution sign saying to stay at 15 mph for the curve ahead - in 11' 18". That was probably the fastest I had ridden to that point. Unfortunately, any gains I had made were about to be negated.

I stayed with Art until we reached "The Wall." He then stood and accelerated. I tried to match it, but just didn't have it. I blew up big time. I was pedaling like you see Frankenstein walk in the movies. One laborious clomp after another. Still, I tried to give my best.

I crossed the line in 13' 22". That is only 6 seconds off of my best time. It was frustrating because I had not used my head. Art finished the climb just one second off of his best time at 12' 48".

Had I not tried to take off back there at the halfway point, I would have approached that last climb much fresher and while Art still probably would have dropped me, I still would have had more in the tank to at least beat my best time.

The ride back from there was pretty uneventful except as we came off the mountain the rain started up again. However, this time it wasn't just a mist. The drops were stinging. I rode the descent with one eye closed and the other one squinting to keep the rain from hitting my eyeballs.

I know that next Thursday is definitely out for me. I have a prior commitment. I'll be surprised if Mike and Art do it alone, but I guess it is possible. I'm looking forward to Saturday morning. It felt so good to get back on the bike after so many days off.



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