7 AM roll out? or not. Six brave souls ready for the ride out to Mt Wachusett. I love this ride, and to make it even better lets throw in some team green race cut jerseys. (Maybe NEMBA needs a road team since the majority of advertising is done when on the road. I’ll save that for another entry.)
Ride rolls out around 7:30, it was a perfect morning. Low 70’s and some overcast. Now this is New England weather and like all days in NE the weather changes. First up is Oak Hill. A moderate climb with some sections where you can really get the speed up. I sat back with Greg at the start of the climb stating that it was going to be a long day and let’s see what these guys are going to do up this thing.
So as discussed in prior posts “there’s always a plan”. Of course sticking to the plan is never possible. Things got sorted out pretty quickly as Steve on his CX bike with borrowed wheels, tires, and some kind of triathlon duel water Bottle cage apparatus sticking out from under the back of his seat decided to let us all know he’s still the reigning Expert Senior II EFTA champ from 2010. Up the first part of the climb we go. Steve, Joe(Boston Road Club and our guide for the day), Carl, and Rob. As I begin to watch the formation temptation gets the best of me. I leave Greg and bridge up to Carl. Here we go! So at mile 10 the “plan” is out the window. Steve is whipping up the pace, Joe looking to suck his wheel. He does this until he starts to crack, he’s off. I get in line with Carl in tow, and Steve is still on the front. He checks our position, calculating in his head how many more beats per minute he will have to increase his effort by to send us off the back. He would keep the pace high enough that there would be no attacks. Rest of the day would be more of the same.
Mile 37 Rt 62. We hit a better than moderate 3.5 mile climb. The weather had started to change as cooling drops were coming from the sky. It was actually refreshing since the majority of the first half of the day is spent climbing. I should mention that i’ve done this ride for the last three or four years but can never remember where the hills are or how long they take. Feeling good I decide to launch an attack. Of course the attack was immediately countered by the guy with a cross bike with canti’s, visor on his helmet, borrowed wheels, and an extra 5 lb’s of water. (what was I thinking here?)
Joe, our ride leader.
I’ve known Joe since my bike shop days. He’s a full fledged roadie. He started riding bikes before mountain bikes were mainstream. Days when on a weekend you and your buddies rode out to the race venue, raced, and then rode home. What’s this compact stuff? “When I started riding, my smallest front ring was a 42t.” He’s also raced in Europe, and as an expert mountain biker here in the states. He can also seem a bit militaristic when it comes to proper road etiquette and ride style. I know him well enough to have a conversation and he can trust my wheel. So imagine what he thought when he see’s all the green jerseys show up. “reckless mountain bikers” I’m sure went through his head more than once. After all, Joe knows how I used to ride on skinny tires. He had his hands full keeping the boys in line. Barking out orders from time to time and doing the best he could keeping the group together. He was even mixing it up on the town line sprints. Yep, throw the plan out the window for everyone.
Great climb, everyone just went at their own pace. I watched Carl watching the guy with the CX bike spin up the climb. He and Steve stopped briefly to take a nice pic. I like my climbs constant and un-interrupted, so we all met at the top. Turns out at the bottom someone left Greg for dead, so in case he wasn’t already really dead he unknowingly took a shortcut to the top. Or shall we say the steepest route! Good for you man. I joked later that there was some good training value there. Took some pics at the top and it was time to head home.
The ride back is always nice, mostly downhill to the flatlands. Some serious speed can be obtained too. 54 mph my computer tells me was my top speed. Now the trip was all worth it (it’s fun to go fast). By now the showers had all but departed and the sun was starting to show. Highs for the afternoon were forecast to be in the mid to high 80’s. Up until now we’ve lucked out. So now it was time to pay. The evaporating water from the road, in combination with the hot sun felt like sitting in a sauna. We kept the group together as much as possible. Strength in numbers would be our saving grace. Guys were fading and getting popped off on virtually any rise in terrain. Once we hit rt 110 it was every man for himself. It’s like seeing a finish line or at least knowing it coming. Greg had made the decision to split and take his chances pedaling home to Dunstable (cause he wanted more vertical punishment). Steve, Carl, Joe, Rob, and myself were now on the home stretch. Sensing the end was near, everyone was now ready to empty their tanks. What do you have left? Let the countdown begin. 5….4….3….2….1. I’m not sure how it went but I know Joe and Rob were the first ones popped off, Carl then sat up and said “I’m done.” Just myself sucking the wheel of a cross bike at 25 to 27 mph. I took a couple pulls but could only muster 22 to 25. Steve was clearly still laying it down and just like the day started it ended. The band stretched and then snapped.
What a great run in to the end. I got 83 miles but there were a couple times on some of the downhill sections I had forgot to start my computer. Still waiting for the Garmin data for the official tally. Everyone rode a great ride, no flats, mechanicals, crashes, or bonking. Had some great pace lines, sprints, and hill battles. A big thank you to my buddy Joe for taking us out.