Sunday, April 29, 2007

Mad Cows & Crazy Crashes Served Up With a Side of Serious, Lip-Flapping Speed! Supersize Me!

That about sums up this week's ride report. While "da Boss" and I are laying here, I thought this would be the perfect time to document the craziest road ride of my life this past Saturday. A whoe lot of drama and excitement unfolded this past Saturday in SouthEast Montgomery County.

We met up at CVS a little earlier at 6:30am to get a jump on the day. It is amazing what 30 minutes makes when waking up in the morning. It ain't easy! But once you hit the bottom of the driveway and realize that 99% of your neighbors are missing out on watching the sun come up, it all makes sense in my little jug head. But I was running a couple of minutes early and pulled up to CVS to see Bobby sitting there! He had not riden with this group before and it was good to see him out on the bike. Colin pulled up a few minutes later, chipper as usual. If you want to meet someone who loves cycling as much as life, and probably has chain lube running throuh his veins, you need to ride with Colin. We had an awesome crowd show up including Ken, Hardy, Chad, James, Colin, Richard, Steve, Mark, Bobby and a new guy Clint (I think that's everybody). We were missing a couple of our favorites, Alan and Scott, but hopefully they will be back with the group soon. I think "life" had different plans for them. Everybody agreed that hills were out so we headed out Ray Thorington to do our usual 50+ mile loop.

Now I am not superstitious, but... about 2 miles into the ride, Mark gets a flat. Not a big deal, right? Well, some say that a flat tire can spell trouble for your ride. Ah, that's just a wise tale. Little did we know!

Chad went down to help Mark out and they got everything fixed and we were back on our way. Bobby (otherwise known as DA MAN) got out front and pulled us to our first small climb in Pike Rd like a champ. As we were approaching, I was watching for the red/black blur to blow past. I knew sooner or later Chad would use this hill as a little interval training to get his heart rate up (while I am doing mental excercises in the back of mind to get my heart rate DOWN). And I was right. The Cervelo missile shot past me and I pulled out of the paceline to try and catch up with the line of fire burning on the pavement. I finally caught up with him as he was slowing down on the backside of the hill. Everybody regrouped and turned onto Old Pike.

About 2 miles down Old Pike, there is a good right-hand climb that I am trying to get faster going up. It isn't super steep but it seems as though when I go over the top, I can't get my speed back for the next roller. So the past few rides, I will pull off and attack it as hard as I can. I figure sooner or later I will be the victor (so far I am 0 for 187). But this ride, I pulled out of the paceline and hit it with Hardy right behind. As we came over the top and hit the next roller, he came around me and I don't think he had even broken a sweat. Hardy, Ken and James are all training for a Half-Ironman in a couple of weeks and they are incredible strong. James is a different bike rider than even a few months ago. If he gets any faster, we are going to be in serious trouble!

We headed on down Old Pike setting a brutal pace rarely dropping below 22. I think the only time we dropped below 22 was when I was pulling. These guys I am riding with are strong. When Ken, Colin, Richard and Chad get up front, you better hang on. They definitely know how to lay the smack down and it hurts! They regularly pull between 23 and 25 and if you fall off, you are going to end up in no-man's land. We made it to Hwy 82 in record time where we took a small break and let those who needed to, take a nature break. We decided we would head down 82 and loop back around on 37.

Hwy 82 to 37 is a great strecth of road with some mean rollers. With a group of riders it is farely easy to set a strong pace and keep your momentum over the hills but it takes some eeffort. Ken, Hardy and Chad were setting a blistering pace and split the group up. Coming down the backside of the hill before 37, we were clicking off close to 30 mph.

We turned onto 37 and Hardy went to the front. No break, we were back at 22 mph and clicking off the miles. We all put pulls in and my legs were killing me. Chad was pushing me a couple of times when I was pulling which was good. I need to spend more time out front because that is the only way I am going to get stronger and hang with these guys. Not to mention, I need to pull my weight in group. I had a couple of good pulls and we went straight to 110 instead of turning on Lawson. We sat there for a couple of minutes to regroup, catch our breath and we were off.

The next few miles of the ride were eventful to say the least. I went to the front and pulled for a couple of miles and went to the back. We were about 1 mile from Wallahatchee, moving pretty good at about 22 mph, when Clint, in front of me, clipped Colin's tire. Not sure what happened but he must have just overlapped a little and hit the tire. Well, the next 2 seconds seemed like an eternity. All of a sudden I see Clint's bike start leaning over to the left and getting all jacked up. My initial thought was, well, looks like they are going to be scraping the two of us off the asphalt with a shovel - Maybe I will just break an arm/collarbone, hopefully not one of my legs - that black asphalt is going to leat me up for lunch - hopefully I don't end up in one of those comas where I wake up 23 years later and everybody is flying around in space ships. Well, I guess in trying to correct his direction, Clint ended up going right (a good thing because I had already decided to go left), and went down like a load of cement. I t hink the ddude left a small crater cause I think I felt the ground move. Nothing to break his fall but his shoulder. Luckily he didn't get all caught up in his bike and slid a little (in the dirt/weeds, thank goodness) and came to a stop.

I stopped as quick as I could, calling to those ahead that we had a rider down. I ran back up to him and he sounded awful. But I knew, unfortunately from personal experience, that the fall had knocked the breath out of him and that he was just getting his breath back. I worked on getting his legs out from under the bike and within a few minutes, he was sitting up and looking pretty good. I initially thought he had broken his collarbone but after standing up, it was fine. He was really lucky, just a little sore and banged up. A couple of riders from the bike club were in their car and offered assistance in getting him home. So a couple of the guys helped load up his stuff and more than likely he went home and had a cold beer (or several). I know I would have.

After Clint was taken care of, we hit the road again and turned onto Wallahatchee to head back to Pike. Little did we know the ride would get even more interesting. We took it easy for the first mile or so and settled into a two-up paceline, which eventually went into a single. I took the lead after Ken but was running low on energy and went to the back. The rest of the guys picked up the pace and came on into the Pike Road Community where we turned onto Pike Rd.

Well, I would first like to say, I don't know anything about cows, let alone herding them. I also am not a big fan of cows cause they weigh a lot more than me and some cows turn into bulls. And I don't like bulls. And I don't know enough about cows to know which ones turn into bulls and which ones stay cows. So I just like to keep my distance away from all of them. Cause they all have that look about them, that look in their eyes that they have a plan, a plan to overtake the humans. And I don't blame them, we eat them fort enjoyment. When is the last time you had a filet that you told your co-workers about the next day? It was probably one of these cow's siblings! And this brings me to another point... I never understood why, at the State Fair, they have the livestock exhibits. Why do I want to go look at a cow? They are not smart. They do not make good pets. And their front end smells exactly the same as their back end. Where is the fun in that?

Anyway, we make our turn and there is a "cowgirl" (not sure that is the proper term, but she was female, I think. But one of those females that could kick your ass in a split second) on the other side of the road... yelling. Profanity. Loudly. Obviously pissed at something. Well, I am not a big fan of horses either, so I don't pay any attention to this crazy cowgirl lady on her death machine called a horse so I keep my happy little tail moving forward. Well, it comes to our attention that she is actually trying to herd the 30 or so cows that have gotten out of their fence and running willy, nilly down Pike Road in the opposite direction. We also realize that cows don't like men dressed in brightly colored spandex chasing them on bicycles! Who would have thunk it!

So by this time the cows are about a half mile down the road and we have stopped in fear that the crazy cowgirl, riding her death machine, might come over and stomp us all into the ground. So we are sitting there, waiting, laughing, watching, analyzing the situation, along with 20 other cars beside us, and about 20 more cars half mile down the road, with these crazy mad cows in the middle, that are cold freaking out! They don't know what's going. They were probably just trying to escape from the crazy cowgirl lady!

In the meantime, she radios her cowboy friend and he rides up like the Lone Ranger on Tonto and somehow gets all the mad cows back where they were supposed to go. I think insane, cowgirl lady needs to find a new profession cause she had lost all control of the situation and almost lost her cows too.

So the traffic starts moving and we are on our way, again. Now, by this time, I was done with the drama. The whole mad cow incident was pretty funny but I like my rides to be without incident. So I was ready to get home. About a mile down the road, I guess some lady didn't take her meds cause she tried going around us with a Ford F250 pickup barreling down the road right at her! She locks her brakes up (literally) in her Trail Blazer right next to us and swerves back into our lane behind us. Once the F250 passes, she guns it and flys around us in a rage (it was scary similar to when I got a tattoo without my wife's persmission on a busines trip). Needless to say, she got to see my middle finger as she flew by!

We turned onto Ray Thorington and Ken, Chad, Hardy and myself were setting a pretty strong pace. Chad was clicking off about 24, Hardy doing the same, I went to the front and was pulling at 22 till we hit the baseball fields and I pulled off. Ken took over and started laying down the smack, one pedal at a time! I was toast and let those guys go on ahead and wage war amongst themselves. I turned into the hood to head to the crib.

It was an exciting ride, maybe too exciting, but one that we will not forget. We all made it back in one piece and I think Clint is going to be fine. Hopefully he will come back out and ride with us. Our group has really gotten fast. We have a good mix with some real powerhouses in there. Guys like Ken, Chad, Colin, Richard really put a hurting on you. And I think I am going to have to introduce James to the foot-long Traditional at Quiznos to slow him down. He has really found his form over the past couple of months and is riding incredibly strong.

Till next week. Well, next week I will be in Winder, GA for the Dirty Spokes 12 Hr. but keep the rubber side down and be safe!