Last week's bike ride was punctuated with stops every 10 miles or so for Lee to re-attach his port side crank (long story that I won't bore you with and forgot to blog about anyway), but he was expecting it to be repaired in time for this weekend's fun. So it was a little suspicious that the bike had apparently got lost in the mail and wouldn't be available for an outing on the coldest morning of the year so far. Wonder how many times his dog ate his homework when he was a kid? But Lee is both a gentleman and a scholar, and indeed there had been a SNAFU by the bike shop that meant his Canadian steed was actually stuck in a warehouse somewhere. I humorously suggested that he could borrow my fixie or Kevin's renowned Mexican Truck - and in a New York (or at least Long Island) minute, Kevin had decided that he would lend Lee his Roubaix and take the truck out himself, just for old time's sake.
So there we were at Zube on a 30's morning, with the truck proudly positioned on Kevin's bike rack, just like so many rides before. She was in full commuter mode, with flashing disco lights on her frame, flat pedals instead of cleats and a trunk rack. Lee and Kevin are about the same height, so he could ride the Roubaix as is without messing with the saddle. He took an exploratory spin around the car park (Kevin has SRAM shifters, quite different to the Shimanos that Lee and I are used to) and came back with two Mules, Gene and Andy, who were OK with dumbing down the pace to ride with us peons.
It was cold enough for me to deploy my base layer, a long-sleeved top that goes under my jersey (and usually results in over-heating in about 5 miles). As you know I'm all about that base, no treble. We rolled out and straight away dropped Andy and Gene, despite the fact that between them they were pushing in excess of $20,000 of bike hardware. They caught up quickly enough though, and as Kevin pointed out, that was going to be the last time we left them behind.
Andy took the lead and I slotted in on his rear wheel. He's a dream to draft off - he rides like a metronome, dead constant pace, no weaving, and he's a big enough man to block some wind. Unfortunately his pace didn't vary on the climbs either and I was working hard to stay in touch on every grade. The group shared the work pretty well, which ws good as there was a decent head wind on the way out. Kevin looked as comfortable and strong as ever on the truck, and I asked him if he regretted getting the Roubaix - to which the answer was an emphatic no. He had got used to the more relaxed riding position on the new bike and was feeling more than a little uncomfortable in the more agressive crouch that the Truck imposed. Similarly Lee was enjoying his ride on the Roubaix and looking strong.
On the run in to the gas station Andy asked me how far we had to go. I assumed he needed to pee (like me) and was wondering if he could hold out. But no, he had plenty of space in his bladder and lots of juice in his legs and fancied a sprint. As we had about 2-3 miles to run he decided to take off, accompanied by Gene, and dropped us pretty quickly. To be fair, the Awesome Threesome had a strong run in too - the last section is on a very smooth, mostly flat road and we had a tail wind - and we were cruising in the low 20's.
Until - with a few hundred yards to run, Lee heard a suspicious click and then his rear wheel began rubbing on his brakes. Yes, he had broken a spoke just like Kevin, but this time the wheel was already significantly out of true and probably wouldn't stay round long enough for us to get home. Nothing to do but leave him there and head back for the vehicles, so after a good break (where I stripped off the base layer!) we took off.
Gene and Andy pushed the pace on the run home, and Kevin and I struggled to stay in touch with them. They ultimately dropped us about 5 miles out but that was OK. Back at Zube, we loaded the bikes and got back on the road for the rescue. We drove back on the highway but it still seemed like a long distance, a reminder that a 40+ mile bike ride is not trivial. We got to the Exxon just as it started to rain. Lee had occupied himself with some work stuff, watching the Premier League on his phone and chatting with a group of maniacs who were holding a rally of open-topped sports cars, apparently their annual Polar Bear run. Good to know we're not the only people stupid enough to ride around exposed to the elements on a nasty day like that.