It was a bit of a homecoming today, riding with the Caloosas Riders as it has easily been 5 weeks since I last had the pleasure. Many of the usual faces were there as well as some recently returned snow birds. There were even some new faces too. As is the norm on the Wednesday rides, new riders were greeted, upcoming events (a slew of them) were mentioned and ride rules…aka “this is a recovery ride”, were reviewed.
While Steve and Bill (our fearless leaders) were eschewing words of two wheeled wisdom, Jack and Amy whispered to me that perhaps we should just bolt away right from the start to avoid getting called out for speeding the group up…the three of us have developed a bit of a reputation for forgetting that it is a recovery ride. Never one to pass up a chance to “pick it up a bit”, I wasted no time in pulling ahead of the pace line and quickly ramping it up to about 25 MPH.
Diana hopped on my wheel as we quickly accelerated away from the group. At about 5 miles in I turned to see who else had latched on only to find that Diana there. We slowed it down to about 22 MPH hoping Jack and Amy had also pulled away from the group as originally planned, and sure enough, they, along with Jeff were just a few hundred yards back and closing.
A red light at Daniels Boulevard allowed our speedy group to form up before heading into the airport segment of the ride. I took the lead again…I had a bad case of happy legs…and set the groups speed between 24-25 MPH. I needed a little last wheel recovery by the time we reached the airport turn off, so I relinquished the lead to Amy who mentioned in passing, “who had lit a fire under me”, and “there is no way I’m pulling at 25″…so she pulled at 24 instead….we are cut from the same mold when pulling.
No more than a few blocks after I had gone to the rear of our little group for some wheel-sucking goodness, Jeff’s rear tire blew out. I signaled the group to keep going as I pulled over to help Jeff change out his flat. Apparently Jeff has been having yet another bad run with flats as he had mistakenly brought the wrong sized replacement tube with him…all his other tubes were being patched. I offered up one of mine…this boys and girls is why we carry multiple tubes…and he made quick work of the flat repair…but not fast enough to avoid getting passed by the rest of the group, who were all quick to point out while speeding by that Jeff had had a lot of flats! Way to rub it in guys 😉
Once repaired, we hopped back on our bikes and gave chase to the group. I figured that with the speed differential we were riding at, we’d catch them near the I75 overpass, but instead we found them all pulled over to the side of the road in front of Gulf Coast Town Center fixing Bills flat. Unlike them, both Jeff and I stopped…not so much to help, but to goad them on a bit for not stopping for us.
Flat number two repaired and we were back on our way. We were moving at a comfortable 22 MPH as we passed Jack, Amy and Diana, now headed in the opposite direction after turning around at the I75 overpass. As we came up on the overpass, I did my traditional sprint only to get stopped, as usual, by the light at the bottom. We regrouped and continued on towards Coconut Point eventually reaching our mid point in just under an hour.
Spirited conversations erupted as we enjoyed our cold drinks, fresh pastries and java based concoctions from Panera Bread. The Trek crew came rolling in shortly afterwards with Doug leading the pack. A few of us had to restock on cycling supplies, so we waited on the Trek crew to finish up and open the store. I stocked up on some more tubes, CO2 cartridges and patch kits (can’t have enough for the upcoming 300 mile Key West ride) as well as getting a new set of cleats installed onto my cycling shoes…neat trick here, Karen simply outlines the cleat onto the sole of the shoe with a marker to make replacement easy and flawless. Re-outfitted, we headed out with a few additional riders joining us. Doug, Matt, and Justin tagged along for some additional miles…some rather quick ones at that, as we were soon to find out.
We casually snaked our way around Rapallo and onto Williams Road, where I grabbed the lead and ramped up the speed to 22-23 MPH into a light headwind. Doug wasted no time to pull ahead of me and leave the group in his wake. In fact we did not see him again until well after the I75 overpass as he patiently waited for us to catch up. Once reunited, we ramped it up to the 24-26 MPH range, splitting the group one last time, forming an insurmountable gap between us.
We maintained this torrid pace until a red light stopped us on Daniels Boulevard. I mentioned to the Trek group that it was nice to have them along and that is was great to get my heart rate up to 150. Doug quickly replied that there still should be plenty left in me, to which I answered, “sure, there’s a lot more left in me”…famous last words as Doug bolted away from the red light and brought us up to 30 MPH. Far out of my comfort zone and deep into my anaerobic pain zone, I had to drop off his wheel, leaving only Justin to chase him down. I’m good for sprints in the 30+ MPH zone, but I can not keep a constant pace for long…at least not without a lot of wheel sucking.
Doug and Justin pulled off at the rear Gateway/airport entrance leaving me to finish up the last few miles on my own. When I reached the Sweetbay Market, I ran into two of the Caloosa riders who had not stopped at the Trek store riding ahead on their own. They, as well as I were a bit shocked that our speedy group had made up so much time on them. Had the route been a few miles longer, we might have caught them on the road…but that’s expected when one has “happy legs” and Doug leading the charge.
Ride Time: 2:12:25
Stopped Time: 1:19:44
Distance: 39.79 miles
Average: 18.03 mph
Fastest Speed: 29.26 mph
Ascent: 1662 feet
Descent: 1641 feet