The Texas Cyclist's mantra was very much in my mind yesterday. I had decided it was time for the Prodigal Mule to return to the Paddock but I could have picked a better day!
When I left home (after 7am, stylishly late for a Mules ride) it was breezy and cool but the car showed 50 degrees, so I didn't take any cold weather gear. I arrived at Zube to see all the Northwest Cycling Club riders wrapped up like Nanook of the North. The Mules in attendance (Paddy, Adam and Ian) were likewise warmly dressed, making me feel a little foolish, as I was wearing the same gear that I wore in August. But I was pretty confident that I wouldn't be cold for long, despite the strengthening wind, and I turned out to be right.
We rolled out with the Club 16-18 mph group, a large number of riders today. After a mile or two Paddy was getting restless and wanted to pull ahead, but Ian told him to hold on because they would accelerate later on. I was pretty comfortable in the middle of the pack, but couldn't hang on when they picked up the pace (as predicted by Ian). I got spat out the back of the pack, but Ian was hanging back anyway, helping a novice rider, and the four Mules grouped up. Just before the gas station the group got blown apart by Ian's pace on a few climbs, but other than that we held together.
A quick break, then off again into the teeth of a strong wind. Ian wisely suggested that we start with the main pack for support, and so we did, but once again I got dropped. I felt strong enough into the wind but couldn't make the pace to stay in the line. This was when the Texas mantra began rolling through my head, and actually helped me keep a good cadence.
With about 10 miles to run I was caught by another group that included Paddy. He pulled me into the line and I managed a mile or two before once again dropping out, but we were nearly in by that time anyway. But I made it back OK, head bloody but unbowed.