Last Day in May
Sunday, July 22, 2012
I haven't blogged in a while and I have been meaning to blog about my first group ride of the year. It was Thursday evening, the last day in May. The girls were off doing something with my Mother-in-law and I had the time to get a ride in. I thought I would try the Callahan Challenge, a fast local ride. The only riding I've done is my daily commute to and from work. I didn't think that my commute would have prepared me for the 34 miles of this ride, but I figured I would hold on to the group as long as i can and limp back in alone. I have my usual commute that day and when I get home I push fluids to keep dehydration at bay, it has been hot. I change into my cycling kit ad ride my fixed gear commuter bike to meet the rest of the guys. I'm too early so I decide to get a few more miles in to warm up. When I roll back into the parking lot I already have over 20 mile in for the day and hope I haven't over done it with that and the weight training I did the night before.
There are a couple of guys getting ready when I show up one I know from rides past and one is new. I exchange pleasantries and talk about fixed gears with the new guy. Before long they are ready and head out for their warm up ride as riders start pulling into the parking lot. It was a mix of new and familiar faces. I make my rounds chatting, catching up with guys I haven't seen in a year or two.
As we roll out to start the ride the fast guys show up on their bikes and we say hello as we take off. We all stay together settling in to a reasonable pace on the relatively flat section of the route. I hang on to the back as we come to the first decent. At the bottom I use what momentum I have and pass a few guys and start my way up the first hill. The fast group has taken off, sprinting for the county sign at the top. I just focus on keeping the pedals turning.
I find a good rhythm and a couple of guys fall in with me. One of the guys, Andrew, has been doing this ride for years. He is a pretty strong rider, not the fastest, but not far from it. We chat about life and the issues with traffic on past rides. At this point we still see the fast guys up ahead.
I cross the bridge that marks the beginning of the first real climb of the night and I think to myself that if I can make it up this I'll be okay for the rest of the ride. I come out of the saddle and stomp on the pedals rocking the bike back and forth, finding a rhythm that works, using my whole body to work my way up to the top. I make the right hand turn at the top and find that I am alone. The fast guys have shot ahead and everyone else is behind me. I continue on thinking that I will be caught soon, but every time I look back there is no one there. I slow down. Andrew and two other guys catch up as I approach a stop sign. One of the guy turns right for the shorter route and the rest of us go straight. I am surprised that I am doing as well as I am, I am on a fixed gear bike with fenders, wide tires and a saddle bag big enough for a small child, and I am holding my own.
I look back and there are just three of us, Andrew, Jim(?), and me. We make it to the half way point and as we make a right hand turn my back tire goes flat.
By the time I change out my inner tube and pump up the tire with my handy dandy frame pump the slower group has caught us and continued on. Unfortunately I was unable to pump the tire all the way, so it was a little soft and slowed me down a little. I got the impression from the other guys that this was quite alright. we make a left onto the road that will lead us to the small town of Hodges and the last serious climb of the ride. As we reach the 10 mile climb up to Hodges I find the right rhythm and force the bike up. The term suffer comes to mind at a time like this and I can hear Phil Ligget narrating in my head. My head is cocked to one side and I am grimacing like the Cannibal himself as I do what I can to keep up my momentum. As the climb eases a bit Jim manages to catch me and pull in front. I latch onto his wheel and we ride into the small Southern town. We stop and wait for Andrew and use him as an excuse to catch our breath.
A few minutes later Andrew rolls up looking like I feel. We head back out on the road for the last stretch. We all take turns pulling and make good time. I drink as much as I I can, but the twinge in my left calf tells me that I am getting dehydrated.
We make it back to the parking lot and I tell the guys that I had a fun and it was a good ride. Andrew offers me a ride home, but I decline and ride the last few miles home. I rode a total of 58 miles for the day and the next morning I wasn't nearly as sore as I thought I would be.