Search Lobsterland

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

'Twas the Ride Before Bike MS

Rode Mission Farms tonight, one last ride before the Big Event, Bike MS. It's not too late to sponsor me, by the way. No amount is too large.

This is becoming my favorite group ride. Which is high praise, I love group rides in a slutty, indiscriminate way. Well, that Brookside group, I one-nighted them, but other than that, I'm just a rider who can't say no.

Even that Brookside group, I liked the people I met, I liked the route, I just didn't like being part of a really large and really undisciplined group that caused needless traffic problems that could be solved with a little leadership.

I'd still do that ride, in other words, if they only sweet talked me about how it would be different this time. So, obviously, I'm a group ride whore of the first order.

This ride is different, though, and I'm not just saying that because I have to rationalize my decisions. Caroline, the ride leader, hands out a list of the turns and designates sweepers and leaders right off. She asks if anyone is new to group rides and pairs them with someone who's done it. It's the perfect group ride, welcoming to anyone who can manage seventeen miles and viable for animals who want to average 22 mph while shaving their legs.

Some of the group rides I show up for, I can't keep up with. The Prairie Village Yacht Club guys, I can keep up until they're warmed up, about four miles in. Then they leave me to my own devices. There are other groups, I've read their maps and ridden their routes and thought, Yeah, if I leave the day before I might finish with you.

This group, I can just barely keep up with the main group. There are some animals who probably couldn't pass a doping screen, but the main peloton, I can generally hang with. They're talking about whether to switch from cable to Dish Network and I'm seeing spots and panting, but I'm still in sight of them.

Generally, I pick a rider who I think I can hang with and try to keep that rider in sight. I did so tonight, but I may not have had the best judgment about who to follow. She had conventional pedals like mine, and when I asked if she was a conscientious objector to SPDs, she said, 'No, I just don't care.'

Then she left me to eat her dust in awe.

But with downhills being my virtue, I kept seeing that blue jersey again, and I cranked to catch up when I could. Think of her as my personal trainer. She couldn't know it, but by putting her head down and cranking hard on a climb, she was telling me, You can do it, you have more, act like you want it!

At one point, I joined a sorta minor peloton at a stoplight, and had kind of pulled up to their left just because there was room. When the light went green, I proceeded, but got far right immediately because I knew all these guys were faster than me. Nobody passed me. Then, one called out, 'Glass ahead!'

I really appreciate that because I'd forgotten it. The remnant of a broken headlight has been on this shoulder every time I've ridden the Mission Farms ride, just south of 135th this glass is always there on the right shoulder of Lamar. It gets spread a little thinner every week but one of us should take a broom out before someone pops a tire.

Anyway, there are a couple of climbs after this intersection and I found myself in the highly unlikely position of Leader. I couldn't hear for sure, but I wondered if someone was drafting behind me. The headwinds were brutal as we went south, you had to pay for every stroke. I wondered, if I slammed on my brakes would I get an ass full of cyclists?

Then as we were coming back north, one of them said, 'Thanks for pulling me up that hill.'

Which is cool with me (flattering really). I was going around 13 mph up that hill, fast for me even if it's not steep. I don't know if them drafting off me had some aerodynamic advantage that paid forward, because I don't think I've climbed it that fast before. But I remember when Jennichild first recruited me into this little cult, she said, 'You get up to speed and you'll be great to draft behind.'

Anyway, mainly this week I was trying to keep up with that blue jersey. When we were riding side-by-side awhile, she expressed doubts about whether she was ready for Bike MS this weekend. I'm like, well, I'm keeping up with you tonight but no way I could have a year ago. So I bet you're fine.

Being as last year was my first Bike MS and I couldn't have done what I was then doing. I thought I was encouraging a relative newbie, someone who maybe didn't realize just how fit she was.

Turns out it's her first Bike MS, yeah, but she just finished RAGBRAI in July. Her nerves were about whether she'd done enough riding since then. I'm pretty sure you can ride RAGBRAI and if you can do that, just sit in the air conditioning and eat buckets of fried chicken until Bike MS and you'll still be ahead of the curve.

Anyway. Last year before Bike MS, I had just under 600 miles in the saddle. This year, in September I have 230 and counting. On the year, it's almost 1800 and that's after the winter, not counting a considerable mileage after Bike MS and before the Big Freeze.

No comments: