Plan on some Pete's Mtn/Wisteria Rd savagery. I'm not feeling so hot so you should clobber me and clamber all over the place.
Those were the words that Brian wrote on this blog either last night or today on another post. I don't know when exactly, I didn't notice them until after the ride this evening with him. If I had known I would have done things a little different. First of all the second sentence is just Brian being humble. He is a hammer. I was the nail.
Let me set the stage here.
Brian is a top 1/3 Master A rider in cyclocross. Those are his words too, by the way. When I called him a top-half Master A racer he corrected me, smirk fully in effect when he said it. He races other disciplines too, but I don't keep track how he rates with those.
I am a top 1/3 Master C rider. Perhaps you can see an issue here. Since it was just us on the ride, I figured it would be immediately apparent that I am would be the anchor out there. Not that it was a race, but I don't want to be shamed on my first ride with Brian. One should do his best to make a good first impression.
When we talked briefly, very briefly about riding together today, I seem to remember him mentioning hills or a hill, but it didn't seem like a significant part of the conversation. It really didn't stick in my mind in such a way that I would have made any changes to, say, the gearing on my bike for instance.
I am currently rocking a manly 39/53 up front and a similarly manly 11/23 in the back. It works well enough for the riding I do usually. Sure it occasionally hurts, but usually just for a few minutes and than I am back to being glad I have that 11/23 cassette in the back. Afterall, 12/27 cassettes are for pansies. Just like compact crankset. Well, pansies and old men. I feel like having that combo ups my man card to something akin to a Platinum Visa card or something. The Platinum Man Card if you will. Well, the bill came due to day for that card and it hurt. But I paid it anyway.
On with the story...
The temp was in the mid-80's when we headed out the door of circle P about 4:15. When we accelerated from a dead stop at the first couple of signals I was immediately impressed at how much acceleration Brian has compared to me. Effortlessly, without knowing it he immediately gapped me. I stepped it up a notch to keep up. I knew that it could be one ugly outing if he pushed it. Luckily, Brian was nice to me. He lollygagged with me on some of the hills on roads I had never been on before. Although these hills were no comparison to some of the roads I have been on in other places (such as the Alpine Loop in Utah), they were accumulatively brutal with the pace I was trying to keep. It was like I was getting continually jabbed in the body by those roads. No roundhouse punches, or anything, thankfully.
The two steepest climbs were on Pete's Mountain Road and Wisteria Road. I had not been on either road before believe it or not. I had heard of them more times than I can count. But what can I say other than that I stay in the areas mainly north of the house, which is about 20 miles or more away from where we were riding. Wisteria is a nice hard smooth climb. Pete's Mountain has two short steep parts in addition to the rest of the climbing. Those two steep bits were at that point very much like hard kidney punches--they just suck the life out of you for a bit. I was cursing my lack of anything easier than a 39/23 combination. But I made it and Brian only had to wait like a couple of minutes each time at the top. Could have been worse. At least I didn't have to walk.
The best thing about the ride was having someone around to take my mind off of the pain and the miles rolling under the tires. Good times, I enjoyed it even if the bill was steep so to speak. While I don't think I could handle that sort of ride everyday, there was a time not long ago that I couldn't have done it at all, especially with that gearing I had.
Oh, I can't end this post without related something amazing that happened. I forgot to bring a multi-tool. So of course I ended up needing one. For some reason one of my brake pads on the fork was slightly mis-alligned and when I applied the front brakes it would rub the front tire ever so slightly. It had started to wear the tire just a bit. I most assuredly would have had a blow out though eventually. It must have just happened because the wear mark on the tire was barely visible. I tried to move the brake pad with my fingers and I ended up moving and loosening it in a bad way. No way it would stay in place now. It would have been dangerous. Crap. I thought I had just ended our ride way early. No way we were going to attempt those descents with out front brakes in good working order.
Brian said something like, "Good thing there is a little residential bike shop just around the corner." I totally thought he was being snarky. There probably wasn't a business within 5 miles of us at that point. But sure enough, about 500 feet away there was a nice older home with a huge lot in the middle of 100 foot tall trees that had a little sign that advertised bike repair. Un-freaking-believable! I knocked on the door and an older gentlemen came out to help. He opened up the third car garage door and there was his little shop. Apparently he donates his time to helping schools out at bike days and tries to keep the kids bicycles in the area safe. He said it keeps him busy. Awesome! After a bit of conversation with one of the coolest fellows I have met recently we were back on the road. How great was that?!?! How lucky that it happened when it did. The ride was just meant to happen. I must need the miles. With the brakes in good order I hit a max speed of 47mph despite being on totally unfamiliar semi-twisting roads. I am sure Brian broke 50, he was blazing down ahead of me.
After we were done we got back to the shop and I did well enough I guess that Brian asked if we were still on for tomorrow at lunch. I told him I thought so, but I would see how I felt after I swam. I suppose if I had really been the anchor he wouldn't have brought it up. Nevertheless, the dude is way more of a hammer than I and I rode much harder with him than I would have ridden on my own probably. Good times.