Decided I would give the Tuesday Thunder ride another shot this afternoon. Almost backed out because I knew several of the guys at my level were not going to be there. But deep down, I knew I had to suck it up, quit being a baby and just do it. No pain, no gain I keep telling myself..
I arrived a few minutes early so I could get a few miles in and do a couple of intervals to get the heart cranked up and the blood moving. I didn't do this last time and blew up less than two miles into the ride. So I was hoping this would help.
We had about 17 people show up this week with a lot better mix of riders. I actually knew a few guys that weren't Cat 1-3. Maybe I could actually make it back to the parking lot this time before everybody leaves! But it wasn't going to be easy cause we had Chad H, Jerrod D, Scott S., and several others that had plans of laying down some serious smack!
We left promptly at 5:30 and hit the road. Jerrod had raced this past weekend and was pretty banged up so the pace wasn't as high as last time. Instead of 33 mph, we were cruising at 26, a BIG difference. Gotta give a big thanks to the guys from the CVS group cause I hung in there with them all the way to the first climb. Dave H. from our team led the group out for the first couple of miles and then Chad H. and company took over and took the speed up to around 27. He pulled off and let Jerrod and Scott start cranking up the speed. About 4 guys took off the front (pushing 30+) with me in the second group. Our group started splitting up and I did my best to ride smart, conserving when I could, and covering any attacks, so that I could stay close to the front group. Chad H. was behind me catching a break and came around. Keith couldn't catch his wheel so I bridged the gap and hopped on Chad H.'s wheel. I was a little surprised to be in the position I was in but I knew they were not pushing it as hard as they could. But it was plenty for me and gave me a chance to ride with guys for a short period that probably ride their bikes better than they can walk.
Well, I figured I would ride with the front group as long as I could up the hill and then go into my Cat 5 mode. Once we started climbing, the elite group attacked and the fun was over. Jerrod, Scott, and Chad pulled away without any trouble and I focused on getting up that massive first climb as fast as I could. I made it up the first tier in good shape. The second tier hit me like a ton of bricks. I had put some distance between me and a couple of guys at the bottom of the hill but they caught me by the time I reached the top. Out of 17 riders, I was in very happy to be in 9th place at the top of the first climb. Beats last week when I was close to being last!
Over the top of the hill, I put the hammer down and hooked up with Keith, Don and another guy on our team. Keith was riding pretty good as always and pulled way on the second climb. Don, another guy and I rotated through several times over the next few miles keeping Keith in sight. At our usual left turn a little ways down from the second climb, I took over the lead and put the hammer down. I knew I had get Keith now or I would never catch him. I cranked it up to about 26 and latched onto Keith's wheel but it hurt. I knew when it was my time to put my pull in, I was going to be done for.
Well, I lasted almost to end of that stretch of road but fell off during that small uphill section that gets me every time. I kept pushing it as hard as I could using waaaay too much energy but I was not quitting. By the time we reached Rifle Range Rd. I caught back up to them (thanks to a little traffic, they had to stop). We took a left and made our way up that monster hill that goes past the gas station. By this point, I was about to start re-tasting my Scott Street Deli turkey sandwich. Not to mention I was starting to get some chill bumps. I knew I had to cool it cause I was pushing it waaaay harder than I needed and I pulled off. Keith and Don and another guy went took off down that hill and pulled away.
Over the next few miles, I did everything I could to take care of myself by re-fueling and also trying to bridge the gap between me and Keith. But I was not successful. I caught Don and we made our way to the road that goes down through Emerald Mountain. Just before getting there, Jeff D. passes me and Don and I jump on his wheel. He checks to make sure we are ready and we start cranking up the speed through Emerald Mountain. I was second in line and look down and we are clicking away at 26 mph! I knew I was going to be in serious trouble when it was my time to get out front. Well, the time came and I put a good pull in. But I paid for it. Stick a fork in me cause I was done! I pulled off and didn't have anything left and did the last few miles chasing Jeff and Don all the way to the parking lot.
All in all, I couldn't be happier with the way I rode. I set a new personal record (1:08:52, Avg. Speed: 20 mph) and know that with some more training, I could improve on that. I just used a lot more energy than I should have in the first 10 miles and paid for it on the backside. But hey, it's fun to go fast!
Now, I spend the rest of the week resting and taking care of myself for this upcoming weekend. Dirty Spokes is just a few days away!!