Sunday, January 29, 2012
The wind cannot read (but it can grind you down)
It was in the mid-40s at the start so I was wearing leg and arm warmers with my Mules jersey. This was a good choice, I was comfortable all the way round, if a bit chilled in the shade. A big group was in attendance including a couple of new faces. It was good to see Mike again - he looks in great shape (he's built like a racing snake anyway) and had been riding a lot around Preston in the North of the UK where he lives now.
We split into two groups pretty much from the start, with Adam leading a slower group including Marian and Heather. They started in front of the rest of us but we soon caught them. I was tempted to drop in with them but decided to man up and see how long I could stay with the Big Dogs.
The pace was pretty hot, with Mike doing the initial work, looking comfortable on a borrowed bike. I was there or thereabouts but not exactly cruising. Jorge was the same or perhaps a little worse. At the 15 mile mark he had dropped back with Paddy, so I joined them at the back, glad to slow the pace a little. Mike held back too and the four of us formed an autobus. We turned into the wind and I took point for a while, feeling pretty strong. Mike and Paddy took over and ramped up the pace quite a bit. I was OK but Jorge was not, so as there were only a few miles to the break I sent them ahead and dropped back.
We regrouped at the Exxon. Adam's group had taken a shorter route and were in ahead of us. Paddy wanted to ride as a group to Waller, then split into speed groups.
The wind always bites pretty hard on the first section and today was no exception. I was able to stay near the front of the group most of the way to Waller but when the Speedsters put the hammer down I had no response and watched them pedal off into the distance. The other groups were far behind so I had to grind it out on my own, head down and teeth gritted into the wind. I felt pretty strong and kept a good pace all the way back, arriving at Zube a few minutes ahead of the other group. Poor Jorge had also dropped off the back of the fast group, but had been caught and subsequently dropped by the second pack. He rolled in a few minutes later, looking tired, but glad he'd come out with the gang.
We sat around drinking beer and wine and exchanging the usual banter. In my t-shirt I was actually colder sitting with the group than when I was riding! Back home in my nice warm car to enjoy the beautiful (if windy) weather.