Distance: 66.6 mi.
Avg. speed: 18.61
July mileage total: 246 mi.
Weather: 54-76º, 93-54% humidity, wind calm - S11, sunny
Song stuck in head: Angeline the Baker - Crooked Still
Joined six other MRC cyclist for an "easy" ride of the CRW "Climb to the Foothills" route. Gary D, Gary S, Chris, Tony, Alan, Mark and I set out from Stow Plaza at a very chilly 6 a.m.
The first part of the route was very familiar to me, winding its way up Red Acre, down S. Acton across to Taylor then up Stow Road. I was leading at this point and was ready to crank to the top when everyone called out to me, "LEFT! GO LEFT!".
I was so intent on maintaining the pace up Stow, I forgot to check for the route marker that took us off the ascent and sent us south.
We kept things under control pretty well for most of the ride, our average speed for the first half was just under 18 mph. Our paceline rubber-banded quite a bit though, speeding up the slowing down again, seemingly at random making it challenging for those in the back. I opted for leaving a little more distance behind the wheel in front of me to soak up the variations.
I overheard Gary D. say something along the lines of not wanting to "screw up my taper" which reassured me that a hammerfest was unlikely to break out, leaving me in the dust. The route was very well marked and for the most part, road condition along the way is above average. There were a couple of exceptions where the paceline broke up significantly to avoid pot holes for a short distance.
There are some good climbs on this route and more than one fun descent, notably one as you approach Atlantic Union College in South Lancaster that boasts a fun S-curve that takes you quickly right then left as you go - at speed (carefully).
We took a water break in West Boyston (or was it Sterling?) at about mile 30-35 and stopped a couple of other times for chain droppage and navigation but otherwise were pretty consistently working our way around the the route. Things changed when we got across 117 heading into Harvard from Bolton.
Even though our biggest climb (in East Princeton) was behind us, the hills leading into and through Havard revealed the gap between my fitness and those of my fellow cyclists. As we approached Havard Center, I was lagging behind a hundred yards or so. Gary D wheeled up to the water fountain there which gave me a chance to catch up (and fill my bottles too). The group had to wait on me after they finished going up Old Littleton Road but I caught a break when Gary dropped his sunglasses going up Taylor and was able to arrive at the top right about the same time as he and Tony did.
The rest of the ride home was an easy paced ride along the rollers through West Acton and Maynard.
My thinking is that today's ride shows is that even though I've been riding pretty hard the last 10 weeks, I've done it all without first establishing a "base" and now as I try to extend the length of my rides it begins to show. I hope my "backwards" approach to training so far has not created obstacles I cannot overcome the rest of the summer.