Thursday, May 14, 2009

Fitness Test!

Looking back to last year's BLOG entry dated 4/30/09, I was complaining about hurting after a test of endurance on the local club road ride. Well, I broke free from the work chains early and headed down to Euro Auto last night for some measure of this years effort so far on the bike. I had a great ride in the end, but from the beginning I was on guard. Again, like last year, this was a big group for me, as I usually ride alone or with only a few people at the most, and most of the time, the riders I ride with are very predictable and I know their moves. On this night, there were 24 riders, a lot of them I had not seen before. I was chatting with a friend before we rode away, when I saw the group leaving I abruptly ended the conversation. Heading for a safe spot, I find myself near the top 10 or so in the group. I know the course like the back of my hand and I knew that the first couple, three miles would be pretty tame, since it's fairly busy with traffic. Making our first turn on to quieter roads, I set off for the front five or six, as the group assembles behind. A few riders start a quick attack and set the pace on fire. The five or so at the front took long pulls, and it was soon my turn, on the front, working, pulling the group with great confidence and attention....This was pretty fun! After my session, I pulled off left and about 10 or so riders passed me, looking over my right shoulder, I saw a hole between the lead group and the chase group and managed to pull back in there. Grimaced faces were on some of those in the chaser group. Keeping on track in the lead group to the first traffic intersection, we all assemble and regroup continuing on rural roads.

The pace was fast, but the riders civil, and I stayed away from "that guy" on the tri bike, that for some reason, does not like me? You see a few years ago, I was really focused on doing town line sprints, going off the front of this, at the time, tight nit group for my own personal reasons. Always playing safe and keeping clear, so as not to cause a crash with the group, well I must have offended this guy and we exchanged words, he nearly ran me off the road one time as well! So, I took a break from this group ride, it seemed he was hassling me every time I rode, saying I was not "working" for everyone. (I mumble in my head as I type this, The jackass is riding a tri bike on a roadie ride and half the time is two bike lengths out front of everybody...creating a carrot on a stick situation for the rest of the group). Anyway, I don't know why someone would be so offended by a town line sprint, so I just smile and said hello, be civil and ride my ride, protect numero uno and most of all, have fun.

We hit the "highway" they call it, Route 101 in Hampton which drops you right into Hampton Beach, NH. That is usually when all hell breaks loose, everyone is sprinting for the front, usually in a brutal head wind. I rush into this section staying on the sixth or seventh wheel when two pace lines start and I'm on the inside of one, leading the way. I break for the front of everyone and get exhausted quickly, battling strong riders and in your face wind! I eventually end up near the back as we cruise into the square for the usual break spot before the race up the coast of NH. Part of my thinking at this stage is, keeping fuel on the fire for the final leg. We stop at the square, I chow down a bar and power gel and finish one of two bottles of fluid. As the group rides off, it was sort of bad timing for some...we get caught in a bit of car traffic, which ends up letting us go. So from the start, I am chasing 15 or so at the front and the pace is fast! After a couple of miles, I end up with a good draft, a risky (to me, not the group) move around a pedestrian crossing barrier, and catch onto a hole with about six riders on the front. I see people ahead getting ready to get into the oncoming Peleton, and I recognize a couple of them, Tom, a good friend, is riding his freshly tuned bicycle (Bicycle Buddha) and I as he drops off from his pull I say, "nice bike sissy boy", he laughs and a continues his slide back. I end up on my turn just before we near the Route 111/ 1A junction. A quick short climb leading into some fast corners, this is the most scenic section of coastline around, it's a beautiful night, but I can't pay any attention to that, my heart is pounding, my defenses are up, and my cadence is revolving quickly. I maintain in the top six or seven and contemplate the upcoming townline. There is no way I determine, as I ask my self for more...The paceline is working, my computer reads 30 MPH, my lungs are ever expanding and my heart is pounding. This is all good, after all as the title reads, this is a fitness test, and all the pain is weakness leaving my body, so I have been told...

As we near the Rye Beach Club I am off the back on the main group, riders are behind me, they were shelled a little quicker than I. I assemble with Kevin who works at Euro Auto and is a super strong rider, we automatically know to work together to make an attempt at the tail end, we ride hard, short pulls for each, and the group keeps slipping away, finally I give in and wave Kevin away as he still chases. I figure, I've handed in my test and have passed by self grading!
A few friends who were off the back in the B group fall in behind and we chat on a leisurely approach back to the shop, good conversation with good people.

Two cool things, 1- "that guy" who I mentioned doesn't like me, he ends up in the main group everytime, I'll be the first one to give credit when due...

2- Three riders on the group have patronized the Buddha, and I saw first hand my work in action, the riders were riding strong and bikes ticking like clocks...At one point, I saw Tom put the hammer down full sprint mode and shoot off the front like a rocket! That was really hands keeping him on the bike and riding fast!

I thinking that I need to get to this ride on as much as possible to keep the high speed, group ride skills in check. I also look very much forward to the next couple of months training for the Mt. Washington Hill Climb in August. I am on the official list, and have listed my "Team" as TPR (Team Pete Roux) for this ride. If the strength I build between now and then only helps a little, I will dig into the basket of pain we all have suffered with his death...The healing continues!

Over and Out...


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