Saturday morning I woke up to a humid, overcast day. On my way to the group ride I noticed heavy mist on my windshield and had to use the windshield wipers a couple of times. I wasn't real excited as I was afraid the expected rain would come early.
But when I got to the parking lot where we were meeting, the mist was gone. It seemed like it would just be an overcast day. We took off for our ride.
We started at a very busy intersection in the north part of town. We would head north on one of the main roads until it hit some country roads and then ride on those out to small country town. We would stop at the country store and then turn around and head back.
Several weeks ago, we did a time trial of sorts. This yielded three basic pace groups - the 12-14 mph, 15-17 mph and 18+mph groups. The week we did the time trial was the first of my flats, so it wasn't a true test for me. From the triathlons I've done, I know that for me to be comfortable during long rides, I need to stick with the middle group. Well, it turns out for this ride, there were really only two groups. The fast group, and the rest of us. We did fairly well on the way out, holding about a 16mph pace. We had to stop once for someone to fix a flat and then we continued on to the store. I felt really good at this point and I think everyone else did too.
On the return trip, things slowed down a lot. It was actually kind of hard for me to go as slow as I needed to stay with the group. Going out it did not seem like a very hilly ride, but coming back we felt it. The wind was also directly into our face coming back. At one point we had a steady uphill battle for about a mile and a half or two miles. I had been at the front of the pace line for a while and wanted to reap the benefits, so I dropped back to the back of the pack. We had one person who could only go about 6mph up the hill. There were times when I had to "coast" going uphill. Like I said, it was hard for me to hang back there, but as mentor I didn't want anyone to get dropped, so I stayed back there for a while.
Ultimately, the Tahoe century is not about time for me, but I do want to ride it at a comfortable pace for me. I also want to keep my speeds at a somewhat fast pace so that I don't suffer on my bike times during triathlons this summer. I have to find that balance.
We ended up with about 41.5 miles. And the sun ended up coming out in full force. The temperatures got into the 80s in the afternoon. It was a beautiful day. It was also a reminder to throw that bottle of sunscreen in my cycling backpack. I'm beginning to get some funky tan lines.