Rush Limbaugh has his . . . well, here is mine. This is my record of news stories and issues that interest me. You can also find more headlines at the site where I serve as editor: The Common Voice.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

That was a blast

I decided to do the B group ride of the UWBL today. 5.5 hours in the saddle chasing after hardcore racers would not do good things to my physical and mental wellbeing. So, I pulled up at Carolina Triathlon looking for Strad - he was the one who talked me into the 60 miler.

Andy Baker had suggested that the three of us just hang out at the back of the A group and get in the miles. Yeah, right. Like Andy Baker is going to hang around the back of any group. Hope he did what he said he would so he'll be ready to race for money tomorrow.

Probably one of the things that made the ride fun was the people I rode with. Strad was there with his dad. Louis, Billy, and Barry were on this ride as well. Right off the bat the atmosphere was great. I hadn't talked with Louis is quite a while, so we spent most of the ride bantering.It seemed to take forever to get the first 10 miles out of the way. We were going slooooow. We also ended up with a couple of flats on the way out. I started getting kind of antsy.

About 20 miles out Billy and Louis broke away from the group on a climb. I went after them and we paced along for a bit. Then Strad, Tom Smith (Strad's teammate), and Randy (a guy I remember from Cleveland Park) came ripping by. I hoped on and Randy, Tom, and I paced to the next stop sign.

Five miles later we started another climb. Most of the riders slowed and since I was in the back, I got bunched. I decided to break out of it and took off around the left side of the group. I made it to the top and beyond with just one guy bridging over to me. Then Louis came powering up (the guy has power!)

Louis and I began pulling up front for several miles. We moved the pace up to around 20 mph. I realized that I would probably regret riding into the wind later on, so I faded back to sit in.

Forty miles in I was feeling great. I kept sitting in. Then about 54 miles into the ride, Louis took a nature break. The group kept going and I knew he was going to have a bear of a time getting back to us.

So, I turned around to go help pace him back to the group. We were flying along reaching up to 35 mph. We caught them and then sat in to try to recover. Just when I started to breath a little bit, I heard the ride leader talk about getting out of the way for the "big guys."

I asked him if they sprinted on this ride. He said there was always a sprint for the railroad track, but it was just for fun... no points or anything. About that time, I saw the pack begin to morph and riders I knew would be going for it moved into position.

Oh my, now, why was it I went back to help Louis?

As we started up Hwy 20 I moved to be near Billy. He is a rider that I respect and have watched him long enough to know he is smarter than me in these situations. He moved up to the front and I followed. The pace was now up to the mid twenties.

Then Strad went off hard. Billy followed and I was right on his wheel. It crossed my mind that both these guys had teammates in the group and I wondered if they were just pulling some of us into an attack to open the door for their pals.

I decided just to cover these attacks. When they moved over, I just slowed. I would not go up front. When someone else went by us, I would move to cover that attack, but when the attack slowed, so did I.

Finally, I saw Strad look back and drop behind me. Then a freight train came by led by Randy. I think it was Randy, Billy, Tom, and Strad. As they went by, I grabbed the back. Then it became a matter of attrition. Billy and then Randy dropped off. Within sight of the sprint line it ended up being just Strad, Tom, and me.

They should be running junior gearing, I thought to myself. I tried to move up. I actually moved into second running just ahead of Strad to the left of Tom. The line was tantalizingly close and I was moving up, but then things leveled off and my power wasn't there.

I know that is the time when the mental toughness is supposed to kick in. I can't even tell you what went through my mind at that point. I just felt something sliding away as I fell back to Strad's wheel just as Tom crossed the line.

Looking back I can see that was just the time my heart rate hit 193 bpm. I also realize I should have just paced in behind the two guys until closer to the line. I could have come out of their draft a little later and perhaps I could have taken it.

So, why was this ride a blast? It really wasn't the fact that I finished it at the front of the group. It was that the group was very accepting. In the A group you are known by your racing history (I'm not saying there is a problem with that). If you don't have a history, you will have a hard time finding acceptance.

In the B group these guys are out to have fun -- not just fun on their bikes. There was a whole lot more talking going on between more people in the group (it is a lot easier to talk when you're going 15 to 17 mph than when you are hanging on for dear life!) Still, there was some competitive fire in there as well.

Some of the most fun I had was when Billy, Louis, Jimmy Helms (Strad's dad), and I got a pace line going. We were rotating like clockwork with the lead rider pulling for just a few seconds. That kind of thing, I don't think I've ever seen in the A group.

Part of me wishes I had done the long ride. Even when we started to roll out, I felt the urge to jump out there with the big boys. The point is, maybe right now isn't the time for me to be out there with them. Maybe next year...



At 7:57 PM, Blogger Randy McCreight said...

I enjoyed reading your take on the ride Saturday. You are especially on the mark when you speak of the difference between the A group and the B group. I have ridden with the A group at Donaldson for over 20 years and it is very disheartened how intimidating they (we) can make things on new and improving riders like yourself. Ask Pat McCallion what is was like when he first began, or I remember a guy we all know named Kevin Whatchamajiggy who used to show up in a TANK TOP. Sorry we aren't more friendly and sorry for yelling stuff like "HOLD YOUR LINE ASSHOLE!!!"
The ride Saturday was very enjoyable for me also, riding a little more relaxed pace, meeting new people, and having some hard efforts sprinkled in. Hang in there...and quit dropping me.
Randy McCreight


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