Tuesday nights at Donaldson, a favorite of mine for sure. Although I missed last week for rain, I made it out this week. Matt, a friend of mine from work was coming out for the first time, so I told him I would stick with him through the ride. We talked about the different pace groups, and he decided on Group 2a (18-19mph pace).
As we were lining up for departure, I saw several of my friends out there. Bryant was there and we chatted - I told him I was going to ride the 2a group with my friend. Just about that time Bill called out for a ride leader and without hesitation, Bryant pointed right at me and said 'Here's your leader' (or something of the sort). Being a good sport, I accepted the nomination.
We departed with a much smaller group than I thought we would have. I started up front with Matt and we set a reasonable pace down Perimeter road, on to Antioch church road and then on to Michelin Road. As we turned on lost swamp, some other folks came up to the front.
Our average pace picked up quickly - We were over 18mph by the time we hit griffin mills road. I had to hold the front guys back a little along that stretch of road. Since we started out with a pretty good pace, it kind of went that way for most of the ride.
There were the normal zones where some of the stronger folks would get out front and push a little - the hill along Richey Road and then the hill on Woodville road. Thanks to everyone in the group. Both stop signs following those two areas were great re-grouping spots.
After the turn onto Reedy Fork, we had another little pace increase - along old hundred road. This is a great road with great visibility. Folks just like to turn it up through there I think. Another re-group and to let some cars pass at the stop sign. A brief soft pedal after the stop because we got split by some traffic crossing 418.
The pace was pretty much hanging right around 18.9 - 19.2mph. A little fast perhaps, but with the re-groups, I think we gave opportunity for folks to stick with the group. Another re-group as we crossed Reedy fork. At this intersection, we caught up with Dan and some of the ladies who had started with the 1b group. Apparently, that group is becoming the hammer group it was last year - I know Dan tried to keep it together, but strong wills and strong riders are tough to keep a handle on. The 1a group is nearly non-existent.
Then it was on to Holly Drive. This is an awesome road. Tuesday night, we came upon two cars heading in the opposite direction. Not fun for us or the cars, but everyone made it through cleanly.
Once we got on Reedy Fork for the ride back, the pace started to open up again. We stayed pretty cohesive up to about Garrison road - except for Tyler and Bryant. Those guys took off and stayed in front of the rest of us until we caught them right around Garrison Road. Matt was still with us although I could see that he was slightly off the pace as we approached and passed through Garrison road. After Garrison Road, a small group splintered off the front and stayed up there till the end.
The rest of us continued along at a pretty good pace up to the Michelin Stop sign. If I recall, I had us clocked at about 19.1mph for an average speed. Just outside our target pace, but I think it was close enough.
On to Perimeter road and we opened it up a little. Eventually, I got out front for a while until a guy came around me to pull just past the golf course. He and I set a pretty good pace for a while, but I had to drop off. The rest of the crowd was only a couple bike lengths behind, so as soon as I dropped off the pace, they came flying by. I may have gotten my average pace up to 19.4mph by that time.
So, it really was a great ride for me. Leading that group, seeing the cooperation between the other riders in the group, the excellent comradery - it really felt as if I had returned home after being away (riding the 1b group) for so many weeks.
2 years ago