To Ride and Dry in MA

Distance: 77.3 mi.

Time: 4:17:03

Avg. speed: 18.04 mph

Weather: Bleah. I mean, 62-65º, 98-96% humidity, wind N5-NE11 gusts to 19, constant light rain

Song stuck in head: Happy Ending - Joe Jackson

Longest ride so far this season. Set out from home to meet Pattie and Della (two very strong tri atheletes) in Harvard Center. I was running a bit late and so had to go from a cold start to cruising speed without a warmup. I made very good time up into Harvard, even making it up Stow Road in 6 minutes flat.

When I arrived at Harvard Center, I was surprised to see Crystal just getting her new Cervelo out of her car. She rode with Della, Pattie and I a few times last year and is also a strong cyclist. Soon enough, Pattie rolls up then Della and we were off on our way to try to chase down some of our brethren who were doing the Acton Lions Club ride. Della and Pattie planned on getting 100 miles in today, while Crystal was looking for 60 or so and I was playing it cagey hoping to get some long miles in before 11 a.m., when I promised to return home.

We bombed down Rte. 111 to Acton, cut through the Acton High School parking lot and rode up Rte. 27 to Nara Park to discover we were at least 15 minutes behind the riders. So off we went to do at least one lap of the 50 mile course. A light mist began to descend upon us.

We kept up a decent pace all the way out to the Rte 2A traffic circle on the Ayer/Littleton border, following the L's painted on the road to indicate the Lion's Club route. Once in the circle, with me in the lead, we saw no "L" indicating which way to exit the circle so, laughing all the way, we completed one circuit before seeing an "L" partially obscured by sand that had washed over it after it was painted. We missed a couple of other turns because of this same problem. The organizers ought to get someone to drive the course with a driveway broom to sweep off the markings just before the ride.

Very soon after we got into Ayer, it started to rain in earnest, so I put on my jacket, helmet cover and began to wonder how well my new shoe covers would keep out the rain. Not much to report for most of the rest of the ride, we traded off pulling duties and rode up and down the rollers through Ayer, Groton and East Pepperell.

While in East Pepperell, re-watering ourselves at a White Hen Pantry, a group of 4 or 5 cyclists pulled up who turned out to be with the Lion's Club ride. We gratefully accepted the cue sheet they offered us. They also alerted us to an unmarked turn up ahead.

Off again we went, gradually pulling away from the other group and heading down towards Westford. Pattie and Della peeled off to head back up towards New Hampshire to rack up their mileage quota while Crystal and I continued on along the Lion's Club route, our pace dropping a bit to 19-20 mph average. I was starting to feel my tank going low as each roller ran beneath my wheels although I still had it in me to crank up them out of the saddle, just a little slower each time.

Out of Westford and into Carlisle we went stopping once to see if we could shortcut back to Rte. 27, turned out the route we were on was the fastest way back. The rain was back on after slacking off to a mist for a while, fortunately it wasn't the heat draining kind of rain I rode in last week. The shoe covers did a great job of keeping my feet warm, I think they ended up wet mostly due to sweat.

We made our way down 27 and I pointed Crystal back towards Harvard, where her car was parked, then poked the rest of the way home.

My wife and daughter greeted me with a delicious bounty of food they had laid out for a Father's Day brunch. We ate and then I found my favorite chair in the living room and slouched my way through the rest of the afternoon.

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