Jorge offered to drive to the start and duly picked me up at 6.15am. It turned out that while he hadn't been drinking the night before, he'd stayed up until 2am with his friends and was rolling on three hours of sleep. Chappell Hill is a small town a bit west of where we usually ride. We overshot the turn-off on 290 but arrived at 7.15 for the 7.30 start - but no sign of Paddy. I called him on his cell, only to have him tell me that we weren't starting until 8am (despite an email earlier in the week that specified 7.30) When he finally arrived he also parked up at a different spot to what he'd said in his email, leading to more confusion and opportunities for verbal abuse.
Once out on the road we quickly felt the wind. No more coasting on the downhills, I had to pedal hard to get enough gear so that I could climb the other side. I was trying to get as far into the big ring as I could on the descents and then shifting straight onto my middle chain wheel once the hill began to bite. The group split pretty quickly, but Greg was good enough to hang back to give directions to us slowcoaches. At one point I was in a group with Jorge, Phil and Tina and we worked together well, but I found a bit more strength on one of the climbs, and when I looked back I saw I'd dropped the others. I didn't want to be antisocial but I knew that I had to ride at my own pace if I was going to make it to the end. Eventually I stopped at the top of a climb and waited for the others. Paddy was also behind so it was good to regroup. We set out once more with nine miles to run. Phil, Tina and Greg set the pace and soon dropped us. I dropped Jorge and Paddy on a climb and didn't see them again, despite getting pretty tired. By now I was moving onto the granny ring on the bigger climbs and was actually in my bottom gear a couple of times. Finally the Chappell Hill water tower appeared, but there was still some climbing left in the ride, and I struggled through the downtown area fully expecting to get passed by the various dog walkers and Sunday strollers on the sidewalk.
Back at the cars, the speed gang had changed out of their cycling gear and were indulging in the usual post-ride banter. I pulled up and asked if anyone fancied doing it all again - Barry was up for it but wanted to change his shirt first. Paddy and Jorge rolled up a few minutes later. We cracked open some beers (not Paddy, he still has 30 lbs to lose) and christened our new Mules coozies, courtesy of Le Patron.
So Jorge the Colombian got a chance to show off his climbing chops (Colombia has lots of mountains)! He did well until he started getting cramps.