Saturday, January 3, 2009

You say you want an Evolution

RESTON, VIRGINIA

You say you want a revolution
Well you know
We all want to change the world
You tell me that it's evolution
Well you know
We all want to change the world
But when you talk about destruction
Don't you know you can count me out
--The Beetles

I didn't ride on New Year's Day, missing out on Potomac Pedaler's "I've Ridden Every Day This Year" ride. It was cold and windy on New Year's Day in the morning although not as bad as New Year's Eve. We had winds sustained at 35 mph and gusting to 50 mph. My mailbox post was a victim. When I arrived home from work both the mailbox and post were on the ground so that became my New Year's Day project.

I left the house this morning after 8:00 and WTOP Radio reported it was 23 degrees in Manassas. Cold. I drove up to Reston to ride with the group ride that leaves from The Bike Lane at Reston Town Center. I was running late and arrived at exactly 9:00 a.m.

I quickly parked in the parking garage and put the wheels on my bike. I rolled out of the garage at about three, maybe four, minutes after 9:00, turned the corner and saw the group heading out. I rolled past The Bike Lane to catch the group. Funny, I saw 3-4 bikes parked outside The Bike Lane.

I caught the group as we rolled through some bike paths out to the Washington and Old Dominion Trail. "Adam (The Bike Lane group leader) normally doesn't take the group on the WOD," I thought, but was willing to concede that either he decided on a cold winter Saturday it wouldn't be crowded or this somehow was the wrong group.

Could there be two 9:00 rides leaving from The Bike Lane? Even if there were, I was too late to go back and find Adam. I hung on the back of the group -- they were flying -- and finally asked someone if this was Adam's ride. No one seemed to know although there were no Bike Lane jerseys in this group. But lots of white ones.

I was told that I had joined the Evolution Cycling Club's training ride but that I was welcome to hang on. And I did. I asked how far they were going and I was told -- 80 miles. Yikes. It was a nice day but I hadn't brought any water (intending to fill up inside The Bike Lane) and no food. No money for a stop at a store. It's not good to ride that far with no nutrition. Oh well.

The ride was relatively easy as long as I was hanging on on the rear. We went through Ashburn then to Leesburg. After Leesburg we climbed our first long hill. It wasn't that difficult but one learns the perils of hanging in the rear.

I wasn't having any problems keeping on the wheel of the rider in front of me. But he was. A gap opened halfway up the hill and the first half of the group crested the hill a good 150 meters ahead of our group. In a race that's when they attack but this wasn't a a race. Still, once we reached the top we had two separate groups out on the country roads. The gap widened more.

I finally broke free to pass a number of riders and tried to bridge to the front group. For a while I was in "no man's land" about 250 meters behind the lead group and 250 meters ahead of the trail group. I had no one working with me. After being stuck here a rider finally bridged to me and the two of us then worked out way up to the leaders.

We stopped at a store in Hamilton where some bladder-challenged riders, including me, made our way behind the store for a visit to some trees. Here we also broke the ride into groups and when we left there were nine of us. It was nine that we should have ended with.

We rode for a while longer until we came to a moderate climb. One of the riders, in the middle of what was supposed to be a pace line, was having difficulty climbing and we all passed him. When we crested he was way back and we waited for him at the light on Va. 9 at Paeonian Springs.

Our ride leader, a guy named "Chicken" then decided we would have some fun heading back to Reston. We would break into teams and try to box other riders out at high descending speeds -- generally about 35 mph. Say what?

What the heck. We took off and formed our teams. We had only gone a couple of miles when we lost our trail rider again. Chicken went back for him and was going to show him the direct way back -- the WOD. Chicken came back but reported that he couldn't find him. I felt bad and was going to offer to ride with him but he had disappeared. We were down to eight.

We continued on and while descending, one of the guys in front of me went off the road. His tire hit the shoulder and three of us had to quickly maneuver so as not to join him. That also killed our descent. We regrouped, didn't get any spring points, and made it back to Leesburg.

Passing though Leesburg I was told Chicken peeled off although I didn't see him. At a cross street I saw another rider leave. And I missed one because we were down to five.

Another rider and I moved to the front and did a monster pull for about 3-4 miles. What was I doing pulling these 30 year olds home? Eventually we let the trail riders lead and we would follow their wheels.

The five of us returned to Reston and I got to go into The Bike Lane and told Adam why I wasn't able to join him today. He just laughed. Unlike three weeks ago, I was able to hang and at least one other rider wasn't.

I was told that this was a closed ride but no one on the ride took exception to me being there. In fact, many introduced themselves and went out of their way to make me feel comfortable. I don't plan on racing because I don't have time but I am thinking about joining this racing club. It was a great day for cycling!

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