It was a fun day... as long as I didn't kill myself
Last night I felt pretty tired. I toyed with the idea of not riding this morning. However, I set my alarm for 7 AM and dragged my body out of bed to make it to Sunshine by 7:45.
My original plan was to do the UWBL ride. However, it started out in Spartanburg today and I didn't feel up for that kind of pace and distance. It was a perfect set up for a fun ride with the guys.
As I pulled up through the fog into the parking lot, I wondered if there would be anyone there. Ah! There was Art standing by his car wondering the same thing. Turns out the ride included Art, Bob, Web, Tech, me - and some stranger named John. Actually, it was good to have John back on the ride with us.
We rolled out into the fog and kept an easy pace all the way through the Reid School Road sprint. Web took off at that point and crossed the sprint line first. At that point, I just wasn't in the mood to go for it.
As we started up Meece Bridge Road I figured I would give it a try. Web was leading out again and I was trying to conserve just behind him. Then John and Art came around. I got on Art's wheel while John led out. I figured John was going to take it easy, but you never know...
Sure enough, he slowed and I paced around Art and him. I waited until we went over the rise just before the finish line and then just hammered it. I was hoping that maybe my burst would catch Art flat-footed. I don't even know what happened because I didn't look back until I turned around at the end.
We were all warming up by that point. Vests, arm warmers, and gloves were coming off. There was no rain and the fog was lifting. At that point we were in the mid-fifties. It was really a great day for riding.
The group talked and spun along until we reached the base of the quarry road. Leading up to it, Web and Bob had a pretty big gap on us. I decided to just pace myself up and hopefully catch them at the top. Art went around me and I started to rethink my strategy.
Then John came around me. He kept looking back over his shoulder and I sensed that he was wanting me to hook up on his wheel. He knew he didn't have it for a sprint, so he was going to pull me back up to Art.
I jumped on his wheel and he paced me back nearly to Art's wheel. He peeled off and I latched onto Art. About this time we passed Web and Bob. Then it was just Art and me to the top.
John's pull up really helped. I was a little fresher than Art. I have also discovered some new power in using my big ring on these climbs. Once again, I never left the big ring today. I just did what it took for me to stay with him until we neared the top knowing that I could just stand on it and get a burst of speed. That is just about how it worked out.
Next up was the Sandy Flat sprint. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do on this one so I kind of hung back to see what would unfold. Again Web and Bob went ahead. John was pulling Art and me. John eased off and my momentum carried me around Art. Up ahead I could see Web and Bob going for the line. I decided to see if I could take them. They were caught napping as I had speed coming around them to take the line.
Next up, the State Park entrance. This started out with Web in the lead and John, Art, and me following. John dropped back and Art and I tucked in behind Web. Right as we reached the bottom of the dam, Web slowed and Art and I had to spread wide because of the momentum.
Just as I started to gather myself for the next move, John came flying around my left. "I bet he's going to go for the sprint after talking about being so out of shape," I thought. So, I stood to follow. However, after just a few yards he slowed and I was able to leisurely take it up to the top with Art following.
Oak Leaf was an epic battle. This is Art's playground. We started up the climb and I noticed Art had a much higher cadence than I did. I was still hanging in there with my big ring. I tested to see if I could make up distance and I could, but the question was would it blow me up.
I slowly worked my way even with Art. Then with about 20 feet or so to go, we both really started hammering. We were neck and neck up to the top and I thought that the higher cadence was going to win out, but I held on and gave a final push across the line. Whew. That was tough... the guy is nails.
Here is where Art does you in. Sure, I beat him on Oak Leaf, but when we got to Nature Trail he kept right on going. Perhaps I could have given him a run for his money, but I didn't get a chance to decide. He was off and steadily hammered away. I did manage to finish that climb in second -- a distant second.
That is when it started to get humorous. As we were heading back to the shop, we stopped at an intersection. The guy in the truck coming motioned us to go. I started to move not knowing that the other guys in the group motioned the driver to go. I realized this at the last second and tried to stop. You guessed it. I couldn't get my shoe released and down I went.
No more that fifty yards ahead we came to Rutherford Road. Just across that busy street is a train track. We waited at the light for it to change. Nearly as soon as it turned green it turned yellow. We were rushing to get across at that point and I was wondering why the light was so fast.
Turns out it was because a train was coming. As soon as we got across Rutherford, the bars started coming down. A couple of guys got across the track before the bars dropped. Another one went around the bars (bad boy!). I tried to stop on the downhill leading to the tracks. My rear wheel hit the paint and I was fishtailing pretty wildly. Finally, I got stopped before reaching the bar.
I gave the gift of laughter to the guys today.
But wait, that's not all! When I reached home I was trying to ride past my Suburban that was parked next to the house in the narrow driveway. As I tried to avoid the mirror on the side, my wheel slipped off the driveway and I went down hard. So hard that the back of my head hit the concrete.
That is a good reason to wear your helmet even when you think you are safe. My head was hurting a bit and my neck is sore, but the helmet did its job. Thankfully, the helmet was not cracked. It hit on the little knobs that stick out the back and they gave well enough that there was no damage.
I think it was just my day to fall and it finally happened.