Sunday, October 30, 2005

I've Got A Rep

Apparently word of my Sunday Afternoon Exploits has gotten around town.

While out riding with some racing buddies on Saturday, it was mentioned that a Sunday afternoon group ride in town was becoming another "Worlds" ride similar to the infamous local Tuesday Evening ride. Confused, I asked where this Sunday ride started from, and was told that it started from Heine Brother's Coffee on Chenoweth Lane.

Wait a second, that's my Sunday group ride! The one I almost never miss! I probed for more information. One of the guys with us said, "I hear they hammer pretty hard on that ride."

The little gears in my head started turning. I almost always "win" that ride, and almost always I'm the one who rides the hardest, driving the pace lines and sprinting for the finish like a mad man. If other racers who don't do the ride had heard about so-called "hammering", then somebody, somewhere had been talking about me!!!

Be still my beating ego.

I laughed and told the guys with me that if there was any hammering going on, it was my fault. The majority of the riders on Sunday afternoons are older, more touring-oriented Bike Club members, and few if any racers ever show up (me excluded of course). There are some strong guys, but none from the "big" teams like Roadhouse, Papa Johns or Barbasol. Those guys hit the Tuesday ride, not the Sunday ride. Being the only somewhat-serious racer present, it's no shock that I almost always finish first.

Subsequently, these rumors of hammering had piqued the interest of several other racers, looking for late-season fun. One of these other racers was Eric, the newest (and youngest) member of the Papa John's "We're-All-Forty-But-We'll-Still-Drop-Your-Ass" Cycling Team, and a frequent riding partner of mine. Eric is my age (26 or so), but as a Cat. 2 he is much stronger. He's been racing longer than me, so it's no surprise.

Today at the ride he was present and accounted for---and naturally "the regulars" paid dearly for it. The pace was much faster, the climbing harder, the sprinting fiercer. At one point I finished my shift at the front of the pace line and started dropping back, not realizing that Eric was next in line. He surged forward, over 30 miles per hour, and dropped half the group, including me---stuck at the very back behind some much older, much slower guys. It took all I had to fight the wind and catch back up. Eventually we regrouped (after much suffering on my part) and made for the finish. I was cooked by the end and had nothing much left to give, so I missed out on the final sprint, finishing somewhere around fifth or sixth. Eric won, of course---but not by much.

Eric was surprised by how hard the regulars ride, and said he would definitely return for another Sunday go. I'd love to have more competition at the ride. I will, however, miss my old habit of winning...