I have been called a lot of things.....but this one was new for sure. After a few week hiatus I joined up with the gang from Velo City for a 29 mile jaunt around Holland. I joined up with the mild group and we headed out of town. The weather was perfect and we had roughly 20 in our group. Not even a mile in....some douchebag in a big dualie honked at the whole group and went tearing around us....but we were nearly going the speed limit...and were single file for the most part....just an inconsiderate driver. He did give room....but the horn was a nice touch.
I stuck near the front. I was in the lead 6 for the entire ride. It is much easier to stick near the front and avoid the yo yo effect near the back. We were holding a solid pace when I heard one of the group leaders to slow down so we could regroup. Perfect timing as there was a stop sign coming up. We regrouped pretty quickly but the pace dropped back down to 15-16 to hold the group together. It didn't take long before the pace jumped back up again because we were in some small rollers and the leaders were using the momentum to carry the hills.
Then came the longer climb. The group was slowing, scattering, discombobulated to say the least. I was about 5th when we hit the climb, and two guys shot off the front. I put the hammer down and closed the gap and held their wheels all the way to the top with one of the group leaders. We shattered the group on this climb. The four of us were at the top and the rest of the group was in pieces down the hill. We stopped and waited for the rest of the group and allowed my heart rate to get back to normal. One of the guys rolled up next to me and we were talking. He said "you racer guys put the hurt on the group on that hill" .........racer guys?
So....I went from being spit out the back three weeks ago to a racer guy on this hill? Wow, thanks for the compliment. It felt good to be that dominant on that hill, but was the group just weak? Looking around I could see many of the usual people....people that usually make the hill before me.....so I guess that can only mean one thing....I actually am getting stronger.....sweet! This wasn't the end either....ha.
When we started back up I went to the front and we were headed right into the wind. I was with another guy up front and we were just pedaling along talking about the smells, fields, how good it is to ride, ect. Then, I hear the group leader say "you guys need to back off a bit....we are getting strung out again". We just looked at each other like "really?" because we were pushing hard into the wind....but we were going faster than we realized....like in the 18 mph range. So, we regrouped at another stop sign and then took off again. This time a smaller group shot off the front and I heard a woman ask "does it bother you guys that I am tucked in right here?" I realized she was right in our draft and we were cruising 20 mph across this open area. Again, blazing the pace....but not on purpose. We turned back North and I dropped back into my position behind the leaders.
It really got fun on 8th street. It is a fairly straight shot to the shop from where we turn and the screws were being tightened. We stopped at US31 but when the light went green we were drag racing....sprinting full tilt to the next light. It turned green and again the lead 6-7 were like rockets (myself included) off the front until getting stopped by another light. It was awesome to be able to hang onto the "sprinters" in that section.
Overall, we only averaged 16.6 mph moving speed for the ride. The advertised pace is 17-19 so we were right in the area. It was a blast to be up towards the front for the entire ride and do my turn pulling into the wind. It was also nice having some left in the tank after 28 miles to be able to let it rip and stay with the other people that were pushing hard. All in all.....I felt like one of the stronger riders in the group. I did my pull, I smashed a hill, I sprinted. Where my heart loves the dirt, just riding a bike is fun!