The Round Bits Belong on the Road

Distance: 52.3 mi.

Time: 2:51:50

Avg. Speed: 18.26

Weather: 51-59º, 79% humidity, calm

Song stuck in head: The Gates of Delirium - Yes

Went for the two-lap MRC Saturday loop today, we were able to form a nice 18mph "B" group of seven riders for the start: myself, Tony W, Scott S, Gary D, Mike Z, Rebecca and (yikes) another woman who's name is now escaping me... I think maybe, "Diane"... sorry! It was not terribly cold but the humidity was high enough to make it feel colder than it was.

We rode out from Stow Plaza just behind the 20 mph squad who grew progressively distant, the closer we got to Oak Hill. We kept a good pace the whole way there and the climb was the usual challenge but uneventful, if you don't count the wobble that put me perilously close to a pile of cut tree branches laid by the roadside like punji sticks. I was about 100 yards behind Tony and Mike at the summit, not bad.

We paused a bit at the Pinnacle intersection then started down the other side toward Harvard Center. I hit my top speed of 43.3 mph along this stretch as Gary and I ripped our way down. Another moment to regroup at Harvard Center then on to Bolton Road.

As I've mentioned before, Bolton Road is that extra something special climb after you've done Oak Hill. Sure enough, I plodded my way up and met up with the group at the top then we bounded down towards Stow Road and back towards Stow Plaza. We fully regrouped along Red Acre Road and at that point, I showed us having a respectable 18.7 mph average for the first lap.

At the parking lot, we said goodbye to Rebecca, who headed off to home and picked up Jen who was there waiting for us. A few minutes of water replenishment and then we were off on lap 2. I was still feeling stiff, like I had never quite warmed up (shoulda had some tights on) but kept with the group nevertheless. As we got into Boxboro, Diane peeled off for home. I felt good all the way to Oak Hill for the second climb and actually beat my previous best for the climb by 15 seconds. I crested, hoping I didn't spend it all there.

The second Bolton Road climb, I gratefully clung to Gary's wheel for the placebo effect draft he was providing on the way up. Back down Stow and onto Eldridge we went. Jen had been out of sight behind us for a while and so while Scott when home for more water (we were quite close to his house), we doubled back to see if we could find Jen.

Near Old Harvard Road, Tony, Mike, Gary and I were turning small loops in the road, trying to figure out where Jen might be. At some point, as I made a tight turn to change direction, I caught a pedal on pavement and did one of my patented slow speed rollovers. As I fell, I got my left leg out just far enough to provide a fulcrum to pivot the whole bike/body combination around and then pretty much momentarily end up on my back. Water bottle rolling one way, baggie with phone/money/ID/pump going the other.

Oh yes, there were plenty of witnesses, not only my fellow riders but a motorist and a few people out power-walking. Everyone's asking if I'm ok. I was. Well, I earned a little road rash on my left calf but it hardly bears mentioning due to how I got it. Scuffed my left pedal a bit and abraded my bar tape a little near the end. Otherwise, no damage except perhaps a bit to my pride. I think this one was more spectacular than the one I did last year with Ted, Della and Pattie in Ayer.

Moments later, Jen comes along and so we head up Taylor to look for Scott. As we poked around on Taylor, bits of the 20 mph group appear and soon enough the lot of us are headed back to Stow Plaza. I settled in with "the other Gary", Len and Smudger as we went along S. Acton Road. I got the feeling something was up when Smudger broke from the pace line and started riding first left, then right of us and then suddenly he jumped into a sprint.

Somehow or other I was ready and took off after him as did Len and then Gary but only moments later, Smudger popped out of his cleat and I think Gary did too. Len and I kept it up a bit longer but suddenly, Len was off the shoulder riding at 30 mph in a sandy little gully parallel to the road. With a fairly big lip to jump to get back on the pavement and a tangled mess of brambles and trees to his right, Len had to do his best to hold his new off-road line. A couple of hundred feet later his was back on the road, with a look of astonishment on his face.

Len's stunt didn't erase the memory of my flip-over hi-jinx back on Taylor and so I got a good ribbing when we all finally got back to the parking lot. A few of the 20 mph folks plus Tony and Gary headed out to add another 35 miles to their ride while I headed home to get the pancakes started.

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