Sunday, December 31, 2017


     The weather this past week was less than desirable and the coming week is certifiable kitchen-on-the-trainer weather.  Historically I avoid riding on Saturday, using that as my rest day.  However, to get in any decent workout, and with the immediate future looking so dim, I began casting about for riding companions.  Saturday Solo would be my last option.
     The Bicycle Sport Shop has two group rides out of their Research Blvd. store.  But I detest riding on Parmer Lane, which is the out-and-back route for the 25-miler and most of the 35-miler.  There was a glimmer of hope with the announcement of The Dam Loop Ride also leaving the Research store.  This is a 50-mile ride at a good pace.  Unfortunately, the ride leader postponed it until next week.  I considered volunteering to lead it, briefly.  Then I was thrown a lifeline.  Jerome posted he was doing the Lime Creek Loop and would anyone like to join him.  Lime Creek is only 30ish miles but is strenuous enough that I immediately assented.  Another BSS rider, Dinh, would make it a threesome.  A bonus was the 9:30am start time, rather than the 8:00am of the other rides.
     I've ridden Lime Creek at least a half-dozen times, in both directions.  I like the route.  But in all of the previous rides, I've struggled.  Unlike most others, I have a triple chainring so the major feature, the Three Sisters (a beast of a three-tiered climb) is not the sticking point.  I make it up, usually with a gear to spare.   No, no matter who is leading, I cannot seem to keep up on the road leading to the climb.  The route itself is actually fun, with undulations and curves and a couple of short, steep climbs.  There are always cyclists riding it so the residents are mostly very good about safely passing.
     Jerome led out at a brisk pace, one that upped my heart rate rather quickly.  The first six or so miles are flat, and we hung around 15-17 mph.  Then the turn onto FM 2769.  First a few rollers then a big downhill.  My top speed of 39.4 saw me dropping behind the other two.  Actually, I thought my computer had gone wacko, in that it felt more like 29 mph.  Anyhow, I pushed my pace but couldn't bring them back.  On the other hand, they didn't disappear.  It was more like 20-50 yards most times, 100 yards occasionally.
     We regrouped in Volente, at the turn onto Lime Creek.  The short climb once again had me falling back.  But this time I caught up and stayed with them.  It is about six miles of fun before the Three Sisters. We rolled up and down, taking banked, blind curves on the outside because oncoming cars and trucks have been known to slide over the middle line.  This is, after-all, a narrow two-lane road without shoulders.    I have never recognized where the climb starts until I get to it.  Jerome was leading when I heard his expletive as he shifted down and dropped his chain.  Bummer!  I moved to the middle chainring and started shifting down (or, up if you are referring to the cogs and not the gears.  So confusing).  I categorize this as three and a half tiers because invariably I think I've done three and then see the really steep part (my Strava has this at 19.6%).  I have two gears left and use one of them and reel myself up.  No rest for the weary.  Off we go for another two miles of mostly flat or slightly down until we reach the convenience store at Anderson Mill.
     I took advantage of the stop to take off my jacket.  It wasn't supposed to warm up until noon, but the sun kept peeking through the clouds and the breeze wasn't near as cold as yesterday and now at my back.  Anderson Mill is mostly flat until it drops down then climbs (10% grade) up to RR 620.  Once again, I dropped back on the downhill and lost even more on the uphill.  But not so much as to miss the green light.  The rest of the ride was uneventful and flat, other than catching another group of riders, and Dinh almost having a disaster when hitting a board in the road.
     I need to do this ride more often but won't do it solo.  Hopefully, my friends will alert me when they want to do it so I can join in.