Tuesday's ride had a modest showing. We cruised down 1560 to Galm with Ed doing the bulk of the work. RD put in a decent pull to get things started on Galm before I lit into a 2+ mile effort down the rest of Galm edging in on a 28mph average at 360W. It felt good. Strava tells me it's the second fastest I've been down this road but there was no tailwind and no shared effort so it was certainly the hardest I've worked on that road except when trying to chase down the group after showing up late to the ride!
Early on it was pretty clear that there were not many ready to work for the group. From Galm on it was pretty much me, RD, and Greg doing the pacemaking on the front in that order. Half way up 211 RD and I were trading pulls and when I pulled off he let us all know how he felt about the inequities in workload distribution, "It can't be the same three f***ing people pulling the whole time! Somebody else needs to come forward..." Of course the only one dumb enough to answer that call was Ed, who had uncharacteristically been hiding mid pack. After doing more than my fair share of work on the front I got edged out of position by one rider who had strategically avoided doing any work all day while simultaneously putting himself comfortably in the front third of the group. As he shouldered past me I couldn't help but remind him not to push to the front if he wasn't prepared to pull when he got there. He either didn't hear or didn't care to acknowledge my sage advice. Shortly after that he was dropped. Karma, it's a bitch. Riders making the selection on the last climb over 211 were Tim, Ed, Greg, and myself. Ed took a flyer up the San Geronimo climb after we turned onto 16. Tim chased him down and the two of them opened a little gap. Greg and I chased them down once we were over the top and RD and one of the other Bicycle Heaven guys clawed their way back on about halfway back to Helotes. It was a great ride with some solid efforts and we were rewarded by the satisfaction of dropping the dead weight in the group.
Another plus to the ride was that Dan, who I rode with a couple months ago, came out. Dan's wife is in the Air Force and they just moved back from England where the spent 3 years just I my family and I had done. We had some good mutual friends there but didn't overlap time spent overseas. Dan is the founder of Fulcrum Coaching, and from my brief discussion with him after the ride he really seems to know his stuff and brings a realistic and practical approach to coaching athletes who have to balance training with family, work, and other responsibilities.
Saturday I dragged myself out of bed and up to Bullis County Park. Normally I would ride the 16 miles out there and back and make an 80 mile ride out of it but with the week I'd had at work I needed every minute of sleep I could get before ride and every minute at home for daddy duties and chores after the ride. On the drive out to the ride I was happy to see Warren on the road, easily recognized by the banana in his kit. And by that I mean the banana he carries in his left jersey pocket. I don't look for peoples bananas south of the equator.
When I got to the start I thought I'd be clever and start my Garmin so it could find satellites and stuff while I got the rest of my crap together. I set it on the rear bumper, got my shoes, helmet, and bottles together. I got the bike off the car and shut the hatch of my VW Golf. I was about to set off when I realized I didn't have my Garmin. I turned around and reached for it. There it was, snugly lodged between the closed hatch and the rear bumper. When I tugged on it and it didn't dislodge I knew the end result couldn't be good. I lifted the hatch and saw the damage: a vertical crack the length of the screen. Life tax. It's perfectly functional but I was worried that the first time I ride in the rain it'll be game over for the Garmin. I think I got it sealed up pretty well. Time will tell.
The ride got started but I didn't see Warren. 5 miles into the ride he made the catch. I haven't seen too much of him recently which is likely the result of my work schedule and the fact that he now has a coach so he gets to do "workouts" instead of "rides". Warren and I pulled hard the length of Spring Branch Rd, dropping the rest of the pack except Andy and Steve. Yeah, Warren and I are not always the most popular when we both show up at a "group" ride. In my eyes it was a great stay together ride. At least it was for the four of us that, um, stayed together. The rest of the group clearly doesn't understand this "stay together" and "no drop" concept because they did not manage to stay together as a result of getting themselves dropped. The four of us in the lead did not have these same problems. I just call it like I see it.
It was a little more sedate after the rest stop. I put in a dig over the top of the climb on 311, just for funsies and hard pull at 29mph down Upper Smithson Valley for 2-3 miles. The pace let up a bit when I pulled off and I think there would have been a KOM in there if we had kept it up.
Sunday was out modified Woman Hollering Creek Ride. It was a small turnout but we had a group of 6 riders including Joe F, who I've followed on Strava but never ridden with. Now Joe showed up at the start of the ride and came over to where John an I were parked and asked if we were part of the same group as the other riders. If there's one thing I can say for the SA Wheelmen is that they are a diverse group of riders. According to Joe, we looked a bit more serious than the others. Joe had come out intent on doing the 70 mile option which really never gets ridden. He looked a little disheartened when he saw the rest of us were heading out for 50. It's a necessary part of group riding to find out what others are made of. After a few gentle warm up miles I put in a couple a couple of miles at 24ish mph. All was well. Joe took a nice steady pull at 22 or so, in line with what the rest of the group was going. When we turned onto Santa Clara John got a started with a gentle acceleration to 21mph, when he pulled off I picked up the pace a bit. We hammered for 4 or 5 miles and I picked up a nice KOM for John in the process. That's a downside of pulling the pack on Strava. You can do all the work and somebody else gets the KOM. It's OK. I got over it with very few tears. *sniff*
At the rest stop Joe congratulated the effort and introduced himself to me. When I introduced myself as Tristan he said,"Wait, are you Tristan Handler?" Apparently my reputation precedes me. Actually, a little bit ago I got a notice on Strava that Joe was following me (similar to a friend request on Facebook). I returned the favor, so we'd been following each other but never met. I didn't know, at the time, why he was following me but apparently I ride on some of the roads he frequents and he sees me on the leaderboards on segments. Joe felt better about the 50 mile option, acknowledging that if he'd known the pace he might not have wanted to do 70 miles. As John put it, sometimes we make up for distance with pace.
Over the next 30 miles or so we had a more relaxed pace at the request of John. I tried to keep things more mellow but at one point John pulled alongside me, assumed the lead and then eased off the pace. I knew I'd pushed too hard. It was not intentional. Still, I pulled off and drifted to the back. Relegated to the back of the paceline for unchecked exuberance. It happens. I wouldn't do that for everybody but I hold John in higher regard than most. Towards the end of the ride John sat up to ride in with Steve G who was riding fast today but still doesn't have the stamina he would like.
Well, that's it. Three rides, a bunch of work. zero photos. I spared you the details of the 7 year old's birthday party I had to attend and other wonderful details. Tomorrow starts another week with two days on call. It's not clear if I will be able to ride midweek or not but I'll certainly try.