a more laid-back thursday night
After Tuesday night's ride, I felt like seeing how Belle would handle the Callaham Challenge course. I was figuring I would do my usual early launch from the parking lot and warm up on my own, with the knowledge that the speedy crew would overtake me at some point along the way.
When I arrived, Connie was at the ride's start. She was looking for ride partners for her second ride since crashing in Pendleton. I figured I'd had my hard ride for the week, and when Campbell declared he'd had the same, we formed up with her and rolled on out.
I let Campbell pull, with Connie following him while I brought up the rear. Almost immediately I settled in on the drops. We made pretty good time down Old Abbeville, and didn't lose much momentum on the hill just past Hunter's Creek. Between the house that used to have the German Shepherd and Allen Chapel, we were overtaken by Jim Cox, Strawhorne, and a couple of other riders. They buzzed on by and we watched them go up the road.
There was more traffic
than I'm used to seeing on 72, but we only had about 100 yards of it before turning off near Ebenezer Church. I came around to the front on the last descent before the bridge, going in to a full aero tuck. I could tell I was aboard the Rivendell and not Stripe the Mercian Colorado - Belle's slightly longer wheelbase, wider handlebars, and slacker geometry all contributed to feeling a bit more upright, but not unpleasantly so. It was a different sort of stable, controllable feel, still enjoyable even if it took a touch more effort to lift into a pseudo bunny-hop over the joint where road and bridge meet.
I churned up the long, nasty hill, complete with its false flat. I shifted down to the 38T ring and spun along to the summit, then waited at the intersection of Stevenson Road. Connie made pretty good time up the hill, especially since she's still favoring a recently fractured elbow.
I snapped a couple of quick pictures and we were off again. Connie and Campbell fell into a conversation, while I got back down in the drops and pulled ahead, shifting up onto the 50T ring and alternating between the 21 and 23T cogs on the long false flat. I was almost to the Old Abbeville-Hodges road when I heard voices behind me. I cranked off a couple of quick shots with what Josh described as the "infamous $9 camera" as he passed me.
Zac was waiting for us at the intersection. "I've already ridden 75 km t
oday," he said. I chatted with him a moment, then Campbell and Connie arrived. We hung out for a moment, while Bradley drifted back to us, then decided to ride in with us. He really wanted the longer route, but that's life.
Back towards Hodges we went. I tucked in behind Bradley and Zac, who were taking it easy and talking. They pulled me along for a while, then I slipped off the back on the hill past the bridge near the church. Not a biggie - I waited for Campbell and Connie at the intersection with Klugh.
From there, it was an easy enough ride. We climbed up to 185, then I led us on into Hodges. We reformed on Dixie, where a truck had broken down in the road near the site of the crash a couple of weeks back - we all felt a little freaked out by the flashing lights at first. It wasn't the pace Zac had set last week, but it was still pretty decent, and before long we were at the juncture with Deadfall.
We picked up another cyclist, and I'm ashamed to admit that my name memory failure has dropped his. Nice young guy on a Tommaso, who tucked in behind me as I followed Campbell and Connie down past the flea market and onto Calhoun. I was feeling the need to stand up periodically now after riding close to the rivet for much of the evening. The drops were still the natural position, though, and I loved the feel of the big pale blue bike on the smooth new surface of Calhoun Road. At the end of the ride, I had 25.7 miles, which wasn't bad for a Thursday evening after a long work day.