|not sure she'd be much use as a domestique|
How bad was he? Hmm, good-bad, not evil. But read on.
The Mules have decided to offer pace groups and route options so we headed out to Zube on a seasonally-warm (ie, hotter and more humid than Satan's sauna) morning. Kevin wanted to make an early start but I wasn't as quick off the mark and when we got there, most of the Mules had already left.
Up and at 'em, with the cream of the Northwest Cycling Club blowing past us at regular intervals. I tried withering sarcasm on one particulalry egregious offender - "Thanks for letting me know you were passing, sir" - but it had no discernible effect. Kevin prefers the direct approach but managed not to spit on anyone this week. One of these days I'm going to mime a snot-rocket just as they draw level and see what that does.
On the advice of Christy our family trainer I had pre-loaded my system with a healthy shot of super-starch. Apparently if I take this stuff I won't need to eat any gels on the ride, which is good because they're just sugar and preservatives anyway (says Christy). I was also swigging on a bottle provided by Kevin that was laced with electrolytes, so I was pretty well hopped-up. Despite the pharmaceuticals coursing through my system I was flagging after 15 miles (possibly due to a slight head wind) and once again called for the shortcut to the Exxon.
The place was mobbed with riders when we arrived and I was pleased to see a large number of Mules jerseys. There was a fast group that included several of the real speedsters but also a second group with Paddy and Ian who were riding at what Paddy described as a fat-burning pace. Yvonne and Gene were also there and it was great to catch up with them for a bit.
Back on the pedals and Kevin and I agreed to go with the Paddy group, who were planning on taking our usual route back anyway. We soon found ourselves in a double pace-line at a very respectable clip. I can't imagine riding without Kevin but I'd forgotten how much fun it is to be in a large group, riding in close formation.
Paddy called for a turn onto Mathis, which we've been avoiding for the last few rides because it adds miles and is of course where the Hound of the Baskervilles (Texas edition) lurks in waiting for Kevin's grapefruit-sized calves. We went for it, in part because we had a tail wind and were feeling strong, but also because with that many riders our odds of being selected by the mutts were significantly improved. In fact they didn't materialise, which we didn't mind at all.
The last few miles rolled by easily enough. Within sight of the barn (practically anyway) Paddy and Ian decided to air it out and took off. Kevin was apparently feeling a bit trapped with so many riders around him because he also broke clear and hit the gas (he hit 31mph!). I gave chase but didn't have the legs. Bad Domestique - you're supposed to protect the team leader, not go careering off on your own. He stopped under the freeway to wait for me and didn't look in the least abashed when I chastised him. That's going to be a few pounds out of your wage packet, my lad.
Back at Zube, we walked over to the new Mules trailer for a little post-ride socializing but no-one was hanging around. Not surprising, given that it was 90+ in the shade, as Kevin pointed out. Time for chocolate milk.