Bad habit? Nah, those usually tend to be hard to drop and stick around for a while. Sack of beans? Not quite the dramatic descriptive I am looking for. Pallet of Bricks? Getting there... For the sake of time, pick just about anything heavy (me) getting repeatedly dropped, extremely fast and hard, and you will have a good analogy for my ride this morning.
My friend Bill, the tri rookie who turned a spur of the moment decision to do his first tri about 36 hours before the race into an Age Group podium (see 2 posts ago), invited me to come out on his morning group ride. Foolish as I am, I accepted. Now, as the race results show, Bill can HAMMER the bike. And he has me looking for the best place to puke nearly every Wednesday at track. So I knew this was not going to be an "easy" morning in the saddle. But he told me that "Thursdays were more mellow than Tuesdays" so I was fairly confident if I worked my ass off I would be able to hang on the wheel of these guys on their "mellow ride." Hahaha... This was NOT to be!!
Today the group was joined by a couple of other guys from a local cycling club/team. So the group consisted of about 6 pretty hard core "Roadies", Bill, who I can't emphasize this enough, MASHES, and I. Up the first hill the pace quickly shifted from "this is going to be a good, hard ride" to "OHH S#!T!!!" I was off the back a 1/4mi into the climb and these guys weren't even warm yet. But I was back with one other dude so I felt alright, it usually takes my legs a little bit to "turn on" anyway, especially at O-Dark:30, or so I was saying (praying?) to myself. Once we reached the top of the first climb I was able to put on a little push and caught back up just in time to start the climb up the "5 B's" with the group. You can guess what the "B's" stand for and if these guys referred to them as such, you can also guess what that meant for me. Cut to the top... And you see me sucking all the oxygen within a 10 foot radius with each breath, and the rest of the group laughing and shooting the breeze. Luckily next it was a nice flat stretch and a long descent.
This descent of course could only mean another climb back up the 1,200+ feet we just came down. Well the "lead up" to the next climb, wasn't exactly what you might picture when one hears "lead up". Its got some good rollers and a few sustained gradients, and after falling off the back on the first, I caught back up just in time to hit the second and get a nice mental image of the group. Which was good, since it was the last time I would be seeing them for quite a while. They took off and I felt like I'd fallen overboard and was watching my ship's flashing red lights steadily distance themselves. So it was up the switchbacks by myself, giving it all I had to try and at least keep the gap from becoming laughable. Again... NOT to be!! If ya got 5mins, here is a video shot on the descent of the exact course we ascended (if you can call what I did an ascent).
Have you ever been dropped so hard you hope the others just think you turned off and went home? Hoping you don't make them wait and have to face them again? No? Well that was my world, and it aint pretty. Alas, I summitted the beast and sure enough, the conscientious group had waited. Maybe they didn't want to feel guilty for driving me to cardiac arrest? Or maybe morbid curiosity got the better of them and they just wanted to see what a hyphen close to death looked like in person? Either way, they waited, I was humiliated, and before we even hit the bottom of the descent I was off the back and on my ass again.
I can't tell you haw many times I have done that ride. And I like to think I have ridden with some talented guys before, but these guys make all others pale as albinos in comparison. Never, have I worked that hard, only to be dropped back to last Wednesday by a group of dudes, some of whom are almost twice my age. Humbling is DRASTICALLY understating the experience. I loved every second and oxygen gasp of it. If I can convince these guys to let me chase em once a week, my cycling is sure to make gargantuan gains. But I can't even fathom what their Tuesday "Hard Rides" are like. Anyone got a portable defibrillator I can borrow?