Yesterday I had the opportunity to ride with some friends in RI. These rides are pretty famous for the good hard workman like approach. Right up my alley, so after threatening to show up for a couple weeks, things finally worked out and I got over there for the 8:30 AM start time. I'm not sure of the town, but I believe we were near the Coventry/Richmond border, in the Western part of the state.
It's pretty rural out that way which is also my preference, so I was pretty stoked to be riding with some of New England's legends, on my favorite type of roads. Temperature was fine in the low 30s and no precip, there were even some sunny breaks throughout the day.
The cast of characters was a great one. Lots of Arc en Ciel riders, Todd Buckley,(T-Buck as I like to say), Randy Rusk, Dave Kellog, and many more. NBX was well represented with Bill "Angry Legs" Yarbroudy, and J-Lo. There were lots of others too. I think there was about 14 or 15 of us at the start. Those few names I just mentioned represent lots of Stage Race overall winners as well as countless 1 day classics and crits throughout New England. A very top notch crew, and it was a privledge to be welcomed to their ride.
I often enjoy this phase of the season more than most because we all go out and suffer. Thats really the idea.....to suffer, and in recovering from these sessions, fitness improves. It's a nice contrast to some race days when it seems more like the concept is to be the guy to do the least amount of work. Nobody could be accused of being allergic to work yesterday. It was solid.
The direction started out west and in no time we found ourselves in CT, and it got even more rural. There were acres and acres of farmland and that yummy smell/taste of methane. I actually mean that, as nasty as that actually smells, it usually means you're on some classic country road in New England with the big acreage views, and no vehicle traffic. I suppose you could be in PA as well as a few other places, but it always means ideal riding according to my sensory recognition.
At one point, on a rolling hills kinda road, we split into 2 groups. The 6 strongest guys stayed back while the rest of the bunch started working a rotation ahead of us. We gave them a good head start and then we did the same. Eventually we reeled them in, but we all stayed in formation, and our group pulled away on the long steady climbs in the miles that followed. It was perfect training and we all got pretty quiet in our concerted effort. At the end of that road we circled back and re-grouped with everyone. Randy ocherstrated the whole thing and it's always nice to see a senior rider take the responsibility of the ride and make sure everyone is more or less on the same page.
Next up was the store stop, and then we hit some very hilly terraine. It was awesome out there, as we just kept getting deeper and deeper into the woods. I think I heard banjo music at one point........hey at least it wasn't Ned Beatty squealing like a pig! Guys were starting to get pretty cooked and I'm not sure but I think we were a thinner group than when we started. Now thats motivation to bring your A-game. Ride well or be left in banjo country.
We eventually worked our way back out to rt. 3 which is where we started, BUT (there's always a but) what I didn't know was that it was a quite a few miles back to the cars and it was a series of long ass stair step climbs. It got pretty hard there and the strong men came to the front to make the tempo. It went on and on and on. Finally at the top of what just seemed like another step, I heard Randy say "OK time to spin it out". I was glad to hear that and relented. At that point it had only been Randy, Dave and myself for a while. Bill had gone the other way on rt.3 to get home or he would have more than likely been tearing our legs off. Todd and J-Lo were just behind us, and the rest of the guys were spread out like the end of a charity ride or something......carnage!
Only a few of us had driven to the start location and we were just under 3 hours at that point, so 4 of us just kept going right on by the cars and did another big loop with the guys that were heading for home, and then we circled back through another great, but steep hilly road to get back, adding another full hour to the ride.
Another great day in the saddle, with good friends. This may sound really corny, but as I get older and older I appreciate these days more and more. When my time is up here on Earth and I look back on it, I don't wanna say "I should have spent more time at work" or "I wish I got to enjoy more outings with people that share the same passion as me". This is it, we only get one go'round, and at least half of my life is behind me now, so I want to do what I love to do with people that feel the same way. We're so lucky to feel this way about something you can do right into your old age. I can honestly say that some of the best times of my life have been on long winter training rides with so many different people. We may piss and moan about the winters in New England, but it's what makes us who we are. Anyone can ride in 70 degree weather all year, but if you ride here in the winter, really ride, then you're more than OK and also pretty tough in my book. Not that that means a damn thing, but I know a few of you know what I mean.
Which brings me to this.....We did it! The winter is basicly over. Sure we can still take a few more hits and probably will, but the light is at the end of the tunnel now. The days are longer and day light savings time is less than 2 weeks away, the sun is higher in the sky and is actually effective at warming the air temperature, when it finally comes out. We can even race our bikes this Saturday at the Charge Pond training series. This is a great training tool and I reccomend trying to get to 1 or 2 of them to sharpen up some of those base miles with some actual race efforts.
Thats it for now, Thanks for reading,