I joined Paddy, Sean and Kenny last weekend for the usual thrash around Hempstead. I hadn't ridden in anger since the Bellville ride, but wasn't too concerned about keeping up with them, as I usually do just fine. Sean set a hot pace for the first 10 miles and I stayed at the front with him - my first mistake, as I wore myself out hammering into the wind. Later on, we got to the only real climb on the out-run and I was left in the dust by Paddy and Kenny - another warning sign as I'm usually at least competitive in the unofficial King of the Mountains race. A high-speed run down to the Exxon did me in and I trailed in last, well behind. The ride home didn't get any better for me. I glued myself to Sean's rear wheel (nearly took him down a couple of times!) but I was definitely the low man on the totem pole and brought the average speed down considerably. I felt dreadful all the way home and not much better the next day.
In my defence, the temperature and humidity appear to have ramped up recently, and I know from bitter experience that I don't do well when the mercury soars, but there's no substitute for saddle time and hard riding, and I'm short on both. So for the time being, it's farewell and good luck to the Muleskinners - I hope you survive the Hotter than Hell Ride! Meanwhile, Dale has been making noise about getting a new bike, and I know I'll be able to give him a good run for his money for a while, even in a Houston summer. Fortunately he doesn't read this blog (do you, Dale?).