Sunday, June 6, 2010

A 65-Mile Pull


What a strange ride.

I arrived at the commuter lot in Warrenton but did not leave myself enough time to get ready. I wanted to change wheels and had to do a quick clothing change in the van. The ride, Airlie to Aldie, was listed as a 'B' ride, 65 miles and hilly.

I might call the route moderate and not hilly. I would think there would be an objective measure with climbing feet / miles but it seems to be a guess. Garmin's corrected elevation shows 3,060 feet over 65 miles. Without the correction the altimeter showed 4,244 feet.

This is important to determine the ride class and speed. If this was a hilly route, and it may have been, then a B average was supposed to be 12-14 mph. A BB pace would be 14-16 and an A pace would be 16-18.

If this was a moderate route then the averages would go up by two mph per category. A B pace would be 14-16. A BB pace would be 16-18.

I made my wheel and clothing changes, grabbed a cue sheet, then rolled out about 10 minutes after the group left. They should have had two miles on me. I began my chase. I thought I spotted a rider after 10 miles but I caught some other cyclists not on this ride instead. Then, on climbing the hill up to The Plains, I spotted 3-4 riders near the top. Once I made visual contact, I took a natural break. And didn't see the riders again until mile 21.

I didn't ride 20 mph but I did ride 18 mph, solo, over the first 21.5 miles. It took a little more than an hour which is about right to bring back the two miles I gave up to the group when they left without me. They probably averaged 16 mph.

I had caught the trailing riders, maybe the true B riders, while there were other riders up the road who had stopped at the Safeway for a rest. As soon as they came out and were ready to roll, I jumped in with them. Actually, they left without me but only by 200 meters. I soon caught them and decided I would hang on the back. I lasted on the back about 45 seconds. I soon moved to the front to help with the pulling and didn't move again for 43 miles.

I rode solo in the wind for 22 miles then pulled for 43. Strange. There were many hills, none were great, but on each one I separated from the group then soft-pedaled at the top to wait. I had thought about dropping the group but, on a group ride, thought that would be a little rude. So "the little engine that could" just kept grinding away and waiting where necessary.

With about four miles to go, a rider finally came to the front. I thought he was going to take over pulling but he seemed more interested in dropping the group. So I went with him. We quickly  dropped the other riders. I thought "Donkey, this is a friggin club ride, and you've been sitting on my wheel for 40 miles now you're going to drop me?!" But we rode the last four miles to the end and I did pull away on the final climb to the lot.

On the day I averaged 17.0 mph. I am pleased with that because it was all solo or pulling. And if it was really a hilly route then it qualified as an A pace. And I just beat the storm that had been forming all day.

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