Off to Zube at zero dark thirty for my first ride with the Mules in quite a while. Unfortunately it didn't go very well - Gene is a miserable git who dropped me like a bad habit after about a mile on the road, and Yvonne spent the rest of the ride grumbling about having to hang back with the losers. Neither of them could organize a piss-up in a brewery and I'm never ever ever getting back together with them again.
Just kidding! Actually they were both great and we had a lot of fun. With plenty of Mules in attendance, Gene wanted to have two speed groups, one at 17mph and the other "at infinity" as he put it. Looked like the only taker for the finite group was me, as the group settled into a pretty hot pace almost immediately.
It was foggy for most of the ride and that kept the temperature on the cool side. We headed north on Hegar, the new (to me anyway) route that apparently has become the standard. I hung on but about five miles in I told Kevin that I couldn't ride the full route at that pace, and suggested we break off on a slightly shorter route. He went forward to catch the rapidly disappearing peloton but Yvonne, in her role as sweeper, had already dropped back to check on me. We were too far along to turn back for my detour so we slogged on, just the three of us. A little further ahead we passed Gene who was waiting for us as well. Good to know that some of the Mules take the term "no-drop ride" seriously.
As ever Kevin did sterling work on the front, occasionally helped out by the other two as they nursed me to the break point. With the gas station in sight, Yvonne and Gene took off for a sprint, but we soon caught Gene who flatted and had to carry it in the last 50 yards.
The flat turned out to be a tear in the tyre, so Gene opted for the short route back, music to my ears after the 17+ pace so far. The speedsters wanted more miles so it was just the four of us on the way back, with Bob who gamely agreed to come along just in case.
I seemed to get a second wind, rolling fairly happily at the pace that had been hurting before the break, but as ever I was very happy to grab a wheel - Bob's for the first stretch, Kevin's for the rest. With about five miles to go we regrouped at a busy intersection, where Kevin's bike began to make a very ominous noise. Sure enough he'd broken a spoke. He took out the hub end and the stump didn't hit the stays, so it looked like he could ride it in if he was careful. The others headed out at the same pace as before while Kevin and I cruised in - except that Kevin doesn't have a cruising gear and pretty soon we were back at 18mph.
We barely made it back to Zube - Kevin's wheel was already starting to hit the brake pads, another few miles would have taco'ed it for sure. In the end we rode about 35 and I felt pretty good, presumably due to the cooler weather. But with less than a month to go until the Colorado trip, we'll need a run out to Chapel Hill or I'll be sagging all the way.