Avg. Speed: 18.5
Weather: 50º, 93% humidity, wind ENE6, damp
Song stuck in head: Love For Tender - Elvis Costello
Dodged the weather on the winning side this afternoon and got in a very good ride with five of the MRC crew: Smudger, Gary, Bill, Mark and Pattie. We set out a little past 5:30 from the Stow Plaza parking lot to do the usual Wednesday route (I don't have a map for this one yet) that heads up Oak Hill then Prospect Hill and out to graze a bit of Bolton (I think) and back down Stow Road back towards where we started.
We set out at a decent 19-20 mph pace and wound our way towards Oak Hill. At one point, heading up Liberty Square Road, I let a big gap get between me and the others and Smudger was kind enough to drop back and offer me his wheel to pull me back in.
Mark was still nursing his ailing knee and let us know he'd trail away when we got to Oak Hill. I played my cards right by doing an easy ride yesterday because I felt strong starting up the climb, staying close the the others for at least 1/3 of the way. Again, I was alternating between being up on the pedals and cranking while seated most of the time. About 1/2 way up, I started to fade a bit, and the others pulled out of sight. Each time the grade eased up a bit, I dropped down one or two cogs, got up and cranked out a little more speed.
Up to the top I went, going faster than I have before on that climb and as I crested on Old Littleton Road, I could see the other four waiting at the intersection with Pinnacle. Here's the penalty for trying to tag along on these rides: they were there waiting for me (for which I am very grateful), getting a nice little rest and as I come upon them, they saddle up to continue the ride. No rest for me. The upside is that I'll improve faster by not stopping.
A nice descent (max speed 42 mph) and back up a short hill towards Harvard Center we went, turning right on 111/110 then left to head towards Prospect Hill (where Fruitlands is). Again, I was right with them, definitely benefiting from the draft in our paceline. I kept trying to get towards the front do do my share of pulling, but then another climb would appear and I would fall back, back back...
Over the top of Prospect and down towards 110, where my fellow riders again were patiently waiting for me. Down 110 we went and then left into the corner of Havard/Bolton that I don't know so well. Medium sized hills all along the way and so I "rubber banded" with them that whole stretch - losing sight on the hills, making it back on the downsides except for one hill where I was so far behind, one of them had time to take a nature break and get back on his bike as I rolled up.
Eventually we made our way back to Stow Road then Eldridge, Taylor, S. Acton and back to the lot on Red Acre, cruising along at 22-ish mph at first and then dropping down to 19 or so the rest of the way.
I'm extremely pleased with how I performed on this ride and also how I'm doing so far this season. I've already exceeded last June's saddle time and am approaching the total mileage from last June.