Punishment and Mercy

 Look at me, two rides in one week. I'm on a real tear now!

Song stuck in head: Ma & Pa, Fishbone

Chris P posted up about doing the traditional Minuteman Road Club Wednesday night ride. This ride usually starts at around 5:30 during the height of the season and runs from Stow into Action, Littleton, Harvard, Bolton and back into Stow. About 30 miles (plus getting to the ride start from home and back).

Even though Monday's ride proved to me that I had a long, long way to go just to be able to cling to the wheel of someone like Chris, I offered to lead a "B" group if anyone wanted to take an easier pace. Otherwise, I assumed if the usual crew showed up, I'd get smoked early on and just pedal the route on my own.

Chris pegged a 5pm start to account for the still-early sunset time. As usual, I was rushing around the house, filling water bottles, trying to swap at least one of the 3 left-hand gloves I could find for one righty, etc. Felt like I was going to be late.

Then I stepped outside. 

I told myself I was cutting it too close to go back inside and get a warmer layer and gloves so I pumped up my tires and made my way over to the meeting spot. During that two mile jaunt, I was thinking about my nice warm jacket and long fingered gloves.

Once there, I did some high cadence loops around the parking lot while I waited for Chris to show up. He sent me an email saying he'd be 5 minutes late... was a bit more than that. Add in the time it took him to kit up, I could have easily rode home for my comfort clothes and been back with room to spare. DOH!

Ok, time to HTFU. Chris and I set off along the easy rollers of Red Acre and South Acton roads, a good stretch to spin some warmth and alertness into your legs. It was already pretty cloudy out and getting darker still - too early for sunset so I surmised there might also be some precip coming our way just to make our surroundings more like the Scottish Highlands.

As we wheeled along up Boxboro Road and then Liberty Square, and just as I began dreading what was to follow – Oak Hill > Fruitlands > Bare Hill – I got the sense that Chris was being kind to me. I knew as well as he what the typical pace was along these roads, having done this route so many times in the past.

I was slogging along a good 3 mph or more slower than what I did less than a year ago. Chris was effortlessly staying just in front of me, providing a much needed wheel to cling to. Funny how even though you're really not benefitting from any aerodynamic help to speak of, the psychological boost from having that wheel in front of you is huge.

At last we arrived at Oak Hill, and, while my time up was nothing remarkable, I was happy with how it went, though I really wasn't sure how much more I could do: my quads were giving me that "we're thinking about cramping up on you" feeling.

Over the top and down towards the center of Harvard we went and Chris suggested we lop off the Fruitlands loop as the clouds were building further, it was going to get dark pretty fast and between us, there was just the blinky light on Chris' seat stem.

My legs loved the idea of trimming a few miles off the ride. So we hit Bare Hill and headed back towards Stow. My fingers and toes were not longer feeling cold but that was only because they were incapable of feeling anything at this point.

Pro Tip: overdress. It's way better to have the problem of figuring out where to stuff excess clothing when you are too warm than to be the least bit cold.

Hopefully sometime soon, it won't feel like I'm pedaling my bike through a continuous river of molasses.


Ashley said...

You still ride up Oak Hill a helluvalot faster than I do!

Russ Campbell said...

On this day, I didn't "ride" up as much as I got "towed" up.