Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Two weeks in a row

For the second week in a row, I have volunteered to lead a C1b group out at Donaldson on Tuesday night. In fact, tonight, Jay assumed I was leading the ride - I didn't really volunteer. However, since I do enjoy it, and I seemed to have a lot of support, I thought it would be fun.

Last week, I did volunteer to lead, and we had a great ride. I can't go into a lot of detail - mostly because I'm beat and I need to go to bed, but I will say that we averaged 20mph at the Michelin Rd / Antioch Church Road and we stopped at EVERY stop sign. It is surprising how much average speed you lose when you stop at a single stop sign. I have looked at my computer and seen as much as 0.3 miles/hour drop in average speed for a relatively short stop. Longer stops (especially on high traffic roads like 418) can lose more than that.

I know it doesn't sound like a lot, but three tenths of a mile per hour is actually quite a bit of speed over the 34 mile route which is typical for Tuesday's at Donaldson. Tonight there was a bit of a headwind, so our average started out quite a bit slower than last week. Shaun and I led out from the start down perimeter road, and the headwind put a hurtin' on us before we even exited Perimeter road! Folks were really good about moving up and pulling into the wind - I'm really glad for that. I like to get out and control the pace, but when you are fighting a headwind, it really works you over.

We maintained a 18.5 - 19 mph pace for a long time. I was concerned that we wouldn't hit the typical speed goal I set for these rides - 20mph. Although we were working pretty hard, our average when we made the turn off of Woodville road was right about 18.5. We had some mechanicals in the group - Jeni had a worn out tire, and Perry nearly broke his chain, but we pushed on through Woodville road where Jeni split off from us.

The rest of the group continued on to old hundred road. Of course, the pace began to pick up. Folks started to get up front and push the pace a little - I was not about to slow them down as we were behind our normal pace. I did as much as I could stand out front to help bring the pace up.

I did a pretty good pull along Hopkins / McKelvey road and onto Holly road. In fact, I was out front all along Holly road until after we started up the other side of the Holly road hill. I knew peeps were sitting in just waiting for me to blow up so they could pass me. Solid ride strategy for sure. As we came up the hill, there went Perry and Ed - a couple of my Challenge to Conquer Cancer team-mates flying past me. After leading the whole of Holly road up to that point, I could only watch as they passed by. I tried to push the pace on that stretch - our average pace was climbing. We were over 19mph by the time we reached Reedy Fork Road.

A quick stop and I got out front again. I was determined to get our average pace back up in the 19.5mph (or more) range. Of course, the stop sign at hwy 418 didn't help that average, but we made it through without much delay. I tried to lead for a little while after we crossed 418, but I really didn't have it - I had to pull off and let someone else get out front. Thankfully, several other people did get out front to help increase our pace. As we pulled our way up Reedy fork Road, I watched our pace increase. We increased to 19.6mph or so as we passed through W. Georgia Road.

From there, it is a nice ride along the rolling hills next to the cool red roofed house. Peeps were getting out front and pushing the pace, but our average wasn't climbing fast - it was climbing, but not quickly. As we departed from the stop sign at Griffen Mill Road, I knew something had to be done to kick up the pace a little more. I decided to do what I could to make that happen.

As we made the turn onto Michelin Road, Perry pulled up next to me and cautioned me about the ride along Perimeter road. He (correctly) stated that those folks who have been sitting in the back for the whole ride would be kicking it on Perimeter road (thus putting the smoke to those of us up in the front). His point really was valid - however, I didn't care - I was going for the increase in our average speed. I continued to push the pace and Perry helped greatly by pulling out past me as we passed in front of the Michelin Sales Training Center. Many other riders also pulled past me, but that is what I was looking for - to push the pace and get us up toward the 20 mph mark. We stopped at the Michelin Road stop sign and I showed an average pace of 19.8mph.

That is a full 1mph increase from when we croseed 418 for the first time (I mean
crossed - like at the Hopkins / Mckelvey road intersection). That is a pretty big increase in our average pace. Since I'm an Engineer, I should be able to calculate for you the difference in average speed necessary to increase our pace in that distance - however, It's way too late for that kind of mental activity. Suffice to say, we were kickin it.

As we made the turn onto Perimeter road for the final stretch home, I found myself out front again. Shaun was next to me and we pushed the pace for a short distance. I looked over and realized that he was pushing wind all by himself out there - and I told him. He added a little to his pace and pulled out in front of me. I tucked in behind and he pulled us along perimeter road up to the intersection with Ashmore Bridge Road. I took a short spell, then was passed by the guys Perry warned me about earlier.

Yes, all of a sudden, here come two guys (who I should know their names, as I have seen them out at Donaldson before) who have been sitting in for pretty much the entire ride. They came by me and Shaun and set a great pace. They led us up the rollers and they rotated out as we approached the golf course hill.

How this happens to me, I really need to figure out. These guys rotated out as we approached the bottom of the golf course hill, and who ends up leading us up the golf course hill?? ME! Am I sick? Do I need someone to smack me down when these kinds of things happen? Whatever....I did my duty and pulled the group up the hill. I was still shooting for the 20mph average pace, so I pushed for about all I had.

At the top, it was me, Shaun and one other dude who I failed to get his name. We had about 2 bike lengths on the rest of the pack. That set us up in our own little rotation as we continued around Perimeter road. The pace was still climbing and we were approaching the target average speed.

This dude and Shaun gave some great pulls and that put me back out front. As we made the little climb up the far end of the runway, here come the other dudes who had come up to the front just a little earlier. By this time, I was really starting to feel it, so I did my best to stay with the group. As usual, by the time we started up that last roller on Perimeter road, the group was blowing past me.

One of these days, I'm going to figure out that I don't need to spend so much time out in front of this group....

None-the-less, it was a really great ride for which we averaged 20mph and truly stopped at EVERY stop sign. Thanks to everyone who rode with us tonight.


  1. You have ALOT of great parts to your re-cap of last nights ride... though the best is stopping at the stop signs. it may effect our average but it is less than getting a ticket :)))

    Very strong ride!!

  2. Great job last night! My wife (Lara) and I are fairly new to the ride and last night was definitely a good test for us. We were the couple in the red and black Timex jerseys (she was on a tri bike). I tried my best to help you with the pace, and I think I was that guy you were referring to on Perimeter Rd., but most of the time I was trying to stay out of the way and not blow before we finished the ride! Like I said, great job leading a safe ride!

    Ken Shaw

  3. Robin, Yes it has been really great these past two weeks with the group coming to full stops at the stop signs. The best part - we still managed to hit the target average speed - even with those stops! We had to ride pretty hard between the stops, but we did it and I think that is important.

    Ken, Yes your wife and I spoke a little during the ride and I do thank you for doing your part up front. You might have been one of the two guys on Perimeter road - I can't recall now. It was someone else in the lead pack at the top of golf course hill though.


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NOTE: I have switched on the comment moderation because I have been getting a number of spam comments lately. Be patient, I'll post it up as soon as I can! Thx JD