Sunday, January 9, 2011

The First Podium Of The Season

"Write this down...If you find yourself in a three man breakaway during a competitive Cat 6/7 group ride on a hilly course you're not familiar with...don't get dropped."

Mongo got up early Saturday morning feeling good and with every intention of doing the regular "Enemy Bike Shop" ride. Forty miles of hammering on wide open roads with long steady climbs. As soon as I walked outside, I knew this would be a daunting task. The wind was blowing steady and the gusts were at least 25 mph. Add to this that the temperature was in the 30's, and my motivation started fading.

If it wasn't for the fact that I'd already applied the embrocation to my chamois, I may well have called it a day. Instead, I decided to HTFU and get on with it. When I got there, the wind was blowing so hard that it was actually a topic of conversation permeating throughout the parking-lot-peloton. This is unusual because most cyclists find it very difficult to talk about anything other than themselves or their equipment prior to a ride.

A group of sixty rolled out with many of the regulars talking about doing the "B" ride to stay out of the wind. That certainly sounded good to me. When the time came for the ride to split, Mongo went left with about thirty other people, including some "A" ride regulars, and settled into what I thought would be a moderately paced, 25 mile ride through the hills of suburban Atlanta. That didn't turn out to be the case.

For some reason, a few of the decent riders decided it was "on" from the get-go. I guess their egos were a little bruised from pussing-out on the big boy ride, so they wanted to take it out on old men, women, and unfortunately for them...Mongo!

Once I realized that I was as strong as anyone in the peloton, I settled in and watched things unfold. After about ten miles of hard climbing, Mongo turned around and realized that there was no one behind me and only two guys in front of me. That would have been all well and good had the two guys not been complete douchebags. They constantly looked back at me, and any time I bridged the gap, they worked together to drop me. I shouldn't have been surprised. They both fit the profile of the "Enemy Bike Shop" customer. One was riding a Parlee, and the other, a Look.

I was actually quite proud of my effort. I hung tough, never losing more than about 50 metres (European for yards), until I finally got dropped at a stoplight. It was then that I realized I was lost. No joke...Mongo has the worst sense of direction of anyone you know.

I should have just pulled off to the side and waited for the peloton, but instead, I guessed the direction and rode down a steep hill which turned out to be a dead end. When I climbed back to the top, I was sure that I had missed the group. But as luck would have it, as I crowned the hill, the peloton was there.

Mongo joined in with about ten guys for the rest of the ride. The pace was ok, but I was kicking myself for losing the two leaders earlier. With about a mile to go three of us separated from the group and, in the last few hundred metres, we ramped it up for a sprint...Mongo won easily. It was a fun day.

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