first wednesday night ride of the year
At Monday night's meeting I announced I would be leading a medium-tempo ride on Wednesdays, leaving at 6:00 from the fountain downtown. In past years the Wednesday night ride has left from the Y, but typically that's meant it's been a rehash of Tuesday night's gathering.
I rode Belle the mile and a half to the fountain and arrived by quarter till. The first rider to show up was Norm; almost immediately Connie drove up. Moments later Donis pulled in, followed by Vonona. Fred cycled up. A pretty diverse group, but it looked good.
I gathered everyone together far enough from the fountain to be heard and described the route - a loop going from the rail-trail conversion to the Canadian Mist Highway, down Lebanon Church Road to Scotch Cross Road, then right to where it ends at Highway 221. From there, the route took in Mt. Moriah Road, then via Briarwood to Alexander to Florida and back in on the trail. In the words of Mick "Be Lucky" Butler, easy, peasy, lemon-squeezy. Right as we were taking off, Landon the Silent arrived. I gave him the quick low-down, and we were off.
It was actually a pleasant ride. Everyone seemed to be into the spirit of things - the faster riders held their pace back, while those who were normally a bit slower worked to stay with the group. It felt like we were all shooting for the happy medium, and getting somewhere near it.
Vonona was feeling the
effects of not enough miles this year, so I dropped back to ride with her. Landon fell back to us, then paced us along, and we towed Ms. V to the end of Old Ninety Six highway. Everyone else had held up on Lebanon Church Road to wait for us. I snapped a couple of quick pix and we were off again. We were lucky - the nasty white dog was not in evidence, and we had an uneventful roll down the long shallow descent.
Onto Scotch Cross we went, down the short hop to the bridge, then up the stiff first part of the climb. From the bridge to Highway 25 it's pretty much a steady climb punctuated by the occasional flat. Vonona reminded me of the time I lost my temper on this route - I was riding the old fixed-gear Falcon for the first time with the club, and someone decided we'd climb this way. I hadn't climbed Scotch Cross on a fixed before and I lost my cool. Oddly enough, my raging, snarling climb was the fastest I'd ridden a fixed-gear since my crash in 2000, but that's another story.
We pulled into the Hot Spot parking lot and conferred. Vonona announced she'd had enough for one day, and Connie was still feeling the effects of her crash in Pendleton in April. Donis joined them and they headed on in. Assured that no one was going in alone, I rode out West Scotch Cross Road with the guys. The pace went up some, but it was reasonable and I was able to hang with them.
We crossed 221 and headed down Mt. Moriah Road. I was grateful for the asphalt for the first mile or so - it used to be tar and gravel all the way. Landon and Norm were pulling by this point, and I found myself shifting up. We maintained a steady 21-23
mph pace for a while, even when the road surface went sour at the end of the state maintenance. I'd never climbed the last hill on that road that fast - somewhere around 19 mph - and I attributed it to being pulled along in others' slipstreams.
We stayed together until we hit the trail. Norm was in the lead, and he began winding it up. Fred and I were both starting to feel it a bit, and I was grateful when Landon reined in his pacemaking and dropped down from 21 down to 18. About 2 miles from the end, there was a loud "pssshhHHT!" from his rear tire.
The pace dropped, but Landon kept riding for a moment. Fred pulled alongside him and said, "What do you want to do?'
"I'll just ride it on in," Landon said. "Don't have a tube, anyway."
That's the most I've ever heard Landon say at one go.
So we rode in with him. There was a steady "thunk-thunk-thunk" of the valve stem area as he rolled along on his flat tire.
I looked down at my cyclometer, then looked over at Fred. "He's doing 12 mph on a flat tire. There've been days I couldn't do that with fully inflated ones," I said.
Fred nodded. He'd apparently been there, too.
At the end, when I got home, I had 27.72 miles for the day with a 15.3 mph average, not bad for a medium-paced club ride. I look forward to doing it next Wednesday.