It’s Wednesday, and that means it’s time to ride with all the “hardened old farts” of the Caloosa Riders Club. Now in all honesty, not all the riders have reached the coveted title of old fart, in fact many of them are not even close, but with my silly habit of coming up with absurd names for people and events on this blog, these Wednesday runs will forever be called “Old Fart Runs.”
We almost missed the run, as Señor J and myself spotted the tail end of the pace line leaving the Sweetbay Market lot just as we arrived. We actually had to start our ride with a sprint just to catch up, as the Caloosa bunch was riding at a good clip. Once caught up, we integrated ourselves into the pace line and settled into a brisk pace rarely dropping below 23 MPH, and mind you this was into a light headwind…I think their designating this ride as a recovery ride can be taken with a grain of salt.
We arrived at Coconut Point and the Panera Bread mid ride break in well under an hour. There were so many of us that the outdoor patrons must have thought the Tour de France: Florida Edition must have descended upon them as what seemed like an endless parade of technicolored lycra clad riders streamed by and parked there bikes on any available wall or hedge. In fact I don’t think there was a single vertical surface, be it brick, glass or plant that didn’t have a bike on it.
While there, we refueled on bagels, coffee and the miscellaneous sports drink while conversing about all things two wheeled. After about 30 minutes, we mounted up and cruised out of Coconut Point knowing that the return ride was going to be fast and furious, especially with a light tailwind blowing.
I voluntarily took the lead and the pulling responsibilities since I had really fresh legs from my recent recovery ride on Monday and yesterday’s day off the bike. I kept the group chugging along at a 22-23 MPH clip for the next five miles to the I-75 overpass. Once crested, I took a look down at the traffic light at the end of the road and guessed that we’d catch a red, so I let gravity take over (gravity is always your friend….unless you are headed uphill), and coasted down to the light. A few other riders guessed differently, and accelerated hard down the bridge catching the tail end of the green light, splitting our group in two.
The group through continued at their quick pace, putting a sizable gap between us, but with luck, in the form of a few well timed red lights catching them, we could easily close the gap….but the stoplight gods had another plan. Every time we were close to closing the gap, a red light would stop us dead in our track. It really was uncanny, as we caught every red light but one, including the two incredibly long lights at Alico Road and Daniels.
It was almost as if we were moving backwards. No matter how hard we charged, we would always end up loosing distance due to an ill-timed stoplight. We were moving at a very good clip too as riders were getting dropped quickly once speeds went over 25 MPH. Eventually our group eventually whittled down to just two, a recumbent cyclist and myself. By the final leg, I took the lead for one last six mile push. With less than one mile left, I signaled for him to take over the lead, but found no one behind me, leaving me to grit my teeth and push on to the end.
I eventually coasted into the Sweetbay Market alone, a little tired and cursing the invention of red lights, but hey, it was still a great ride!
Ride Time: 1:59:17
Stopped Time: 44:19
Distance: 38.33 miles
Average: 19.28 mph
Fastest Speed: 27.34 mph
Ascent: 434 feet
Descent: 435 feet