Avg. Speed: 17.7 mph
Weather: 55-60º, partly cloudy, wet roads
Song stuck in head: Too Much - Dave Matthews Band
Terrific ride this morning with Tony W of the MRC and a mixed bag of six other people variously training for the PMC Challenge or the B2B ride - some, I think, were going to do both. We set out from Boxboro a few minutes after 6 a.m. and headed into Harvard by way of Stow Road. I was feeling quite stiff and tired (there was a squall that blew though at 4 a.m. and woke me a hour before my alarm did). Another problem: my brain's radio had a song from Cinderella playing (I watched it with my daughter the other day) - damn you Rogers and Hammerstein!
I did my usual time up Stow: about 6' 30".
By the time we got to the top of Stow, the pace we set was already too much for two of our group, who elected to let us ride on without them. We went left down Slough and wandered through the rollery hills of southern Harvard and eastern Bolton. We crossed 117 and made our way towards the center of Berlin. Along the way, we inadvertently dropped another rider, who we turned back for, waited five minutes for but didn't find. After being assured he knew his way around, we pressed on through Berlin center.
At this point, my brain's radio mercifully moved on to a Dave Matthews song. I'm not a big fan but welcomed getting "The Prince is Giving a Ball" out of my head.
I was finally warming up and began to notice I was climbing better than I have so far this season. Nothing spectacular, but I felt like I had more in me than ever before. It didn't hurt that I seemed to be dead in the middle of the group in climbing ability. After summiting each climb, I would easily catch up to Tony and Bob c. (a triathlete) on the descent. We started winding our way clockwise around Wachusett Reservor when lo and behold, up ahead appeared our dropped rider, Kevin.
We turned north and worked along the west side of the "WaWa" Reservoir on a long straight away that Tony, Bob and I really cranked out on. Entering Cinton, we bunched up again and got onto Rte. 110 to continue on up into Bolton. We stopped at the store at the intersection of 110 and 117 for some water and nature breaks when another group pedaled by. Our route leader, Scott recognized one of them and called out - they turned around and came into the parking lot. Turns out, the two guys who went on their own way back at the beginning, hooked up and rode with this group.
Once the pleasantries were over, it was time to get moving or else we'd cool down too much (~40 miles under our belts at this point). Up 110 into Bolton and then Harvard, left on Prospect up past Fruitlands - I stayed pretty close to Tony on each of these inclines - and then, after a zig and a zag, we headed up what eventually becomes Pinnacle.
I know this climb well and dreaded it at this late part of our ride but I found I had a lot energy still. I got up out of the saddle and cranked my way up, taking breaks by sitting here and there, then back up on the pedals again. It's so nice to be fit enough not have the "hill dread" a forgone conclusion anymore.
Over Pinnacle and right past Carlson Orchard then onto Slough after some windy turns, back down Stow Road. It was nearing 9:30 and I promised I'd be back home by 10 so I parted ways with the group at Eldridge and made my way back via my usual route - feeling very good about the day's ride.
OBSERVATION: when riding in a group, doing the "snot rocket" is a bad idea so you pretty much have to use your glove as a handkerchief... but you'd better remember which one it was when you go to wipe the sweat off your forehead.