I know, I know, I'm pretty much a week late getting this post put together, but such is life. Actually, I'm shirking my work duties at the moment to put this together, but I'm sure I'll pay the time back in working late tonight and taking work home, so it's all good.
Last Tuesday was a great ride. I set a personal best, had an excellent ride, and managed to not feel like throwing up by the time I was done. The group was smaller than the previous one in which the accident occured. I can't really say it was any better behaved on the part of obeying all traffic laws, but at least we did more double file pacing in lieu of the mass swarm that I'm sure helped foster the accident the week before.
In any case, I was thinking all day about how not to get dropped on the climb past Cottonwood. I read on someone's training plan, blog, or somewhere that if you're a week climber, position yourself at the front and attack on the climb. As I all ready redline my heart rate going up that climb, I couldn't quite see how I could attack it any harder. However, by positioning myself at the front and hitting it just a shade earlier than everyone else, it allowed me to stay within the pack at the top of the climb. I was still totally gassed, but I now had people around to draft and recover with. I made it across the highway and through one set of S-curves before I was off the back again. I wasn't severely disappointed as it was still about the furthest I've made it thus far.
I had a few people off even before I went, so that made me happy in not being the first person off. I also was able to help pull them a little bit. The main group got stopped at the light in Ankeny and we were able to catch back up. As the light turned and we went, the pack strung out a bit. For some reason a number of the Pink Biker Chicks hit their brakes and pulled off into the elementary school at the north end of Ankeny. Not such a big deal, but the few of us towards the tail end had to slow and then were gapped off the main group which was accelerating away from us.
With no chance of catching them, I started to pull with one of the women I knew on the ride. We worked together to reel in Paul Black who I'm not sure was even on the TNWC ride, but happened to be in the right place at the right time. We started rotating pulls, but eventually lost Kristen off the back (sorry!) leaving Paul and I chasing one of the Rassy boys. We caught him and again started a pretty agressive 3 man rotation trading pulls every 30-45 seconds and hanging out with the tailwind and a draft!
Eventually, Paul and I started pulling away from the man in black and I was still feeling pretty springy. We made the turn on 142nd and still had a cross/tail wind at that point. We slowed slightly to let the other guy catch back on, but he wasn't able to hold it so we took off as two. Paul is an amazingly strong rider and I'm pretty sure he wasn't working nearly as hard as I was considering he's done RAAM and several UMCA events. We shot straight through the turn to Slater/Sheldahl and made the 40 mile loop. As we headed back south a nasty headwind greated us with gusto.
Pulls were again traded with Paul going longer up front as I was starting to weaken. Finally as we were almost to Camp Dodge I started to fall off, but Paul being the consumate drafting partner, soft pedalled long enough for me to hang on and recover just a bit. We split ways at Merle Hay as I headed back to the shop and my truck. It was at this point I knew it was going to be a fight to maintain my average speed. I hammered it as much as possible and somehow managed to keep my average at a new personal best. 20 MPH average for the 40 mile loop. I was stoked to say the least. Back at the truck I was tired, but happy and amazingly didn't hurt too much.