The commitment that we make to cycling is as auspicious as it is self-fulfilling. I am fortunate on both accounts and more. As for miracles, well, they are where you look for them. Today there was no epic challenges, no battle royales, no halfwheeling hell. Just a strong, steady effort on a holiday weekend with some superb athletes either at the peak of their fitness, ramping up for the season, or leveling off.
It turned out to be a nice day, calm but present winds, temperature in the 40s, wet roads but little ice. We met at the downtown Bakehouse as is the custom. Drew Coelho (recently back from training camp in Florida) was eating breakfast when I arrived about 11:45. Fred Rose (uber-fit from a full season of cross) was next, then Allen Galloway (Joe’s Bikes and former Little 5er) made the trip from Indianapolis to participate. Elite riders Ryan Knapp and Guy East rolled up as well and joined us for a final cup of coffee. The pre-ride talk was of the Namur (Belgium) cyclocross event that a few of us watched earlier in the day. Ryan had raced in Belgium last season and was familiar with the course and bumped handlebars with many of the riders there. Guy is in town for a couple of days and briefly described his next 6 day event in January in Berlin, Germany while we sat around the table in awe of these local giants of cycling.
We rolled out of town at a good clip, Ryan, Guy, Fred and Drew shepherding us along the way at a comfortable pace for them although the strain was evident on my face I am sure as I sat at the back taking pictures as often as I could. All were engaged in conversation, two by two as we navigated the smaller roads to 446. We opted for Knightridge east on the way out and the road was passable, but just so. Once we hit the main road we were to stay on it for the next 2 hours or so.
The sun was welcome and our pace was just manageable for the author, while the others seemed happy chatting away.
We dialed in our pace and looked well disciplined on the way out on the rollers leading up to the causeway. You would have enjoyed this steady tempo ride. The leaders kept it on the sharp side up the causeway, just distancing me and Galloway but were kind enough to answer nature’s call while we caught on. We spotted Randi Cox and Lynn Allen at the causeway just as they were turning for home. Soon, we connected, not without some difficulty, strongman Tom Cox out on the flat sections of 446. At the first flashers, Galloway had had enough and elected to turn back. Such is the beauty of these rides. As our fitness returns, or ebbs or flows, we can pull the cord at any time, controlling our efforts to match our fitness. The rest of us carried on to the next intersection.
It was not with a little sigh of relief when the Route 50 sign came into view! We stopped at the store briefly and then turned for home. It wasn’t long before we saw a lone rider pedaling a smart tempo up the road. It turned out to be Emma Caughlin getting in some final training before Teter’s camp in Florida! She was riding well and easily slipped into our little train and managed the group dynamics effectively. Our group of 7 was now made up of Knapp, East, Rose, Cox, Coelho, Caughlin and me. I was beginning to feel the tug of my fitness as we headed into the hilly portions of the course. Rose, East and Coelho made the most of the causeway north and rode away but waited at the top.
We regrouped on the other side and set our sights for home, knowing that we made the most of our time together out here on the roads where, for a moment, time is measured not in the ticking of a clock but in pedalstrokes spent in the company of those who can be counted among your best friends.