Team means not getting left behind even when you arrive late to the group ride.
I headed out to the Tuesday night World Championships in Great Bridge after dropping a job candidate off at the airport. The traffic on Interstate 64 was bad enough that I arrived at the starting point just as the group rolled out. As I parked I noticed that Bill, Tim, Kevin and Laura from Tripower, plus Chris from Fat Frogs waited for me. I changed as quickly as possible, but it still took me four or five minutes to get myself together before we rolled out.
Our warm-up last maybe a half mile, then we were rolling at 23-24. We didn’t take any shortcuts, but we started catching stragglers on Long Ridge Road and even had the lead group in our sights, though well ahead on the cutover to Head of River. We amped the pace to 26-27 out Head of River. Each time I pulled through, I hammered as best I could (if they waited for me, I ought to work my butt off to get them back to the lead group). After each pull I had to really hump to remain in the paceline. We caught the lead group on Blackwater and moved straight to the front.
As we turned off Blackwater, Tim punched it to 29 with me on his wheel. I was hypoxic, but I held on… briefly. I couldn’t pull through so Kevin did with Bill on his wheel. There was no one behind them. Tim bridged, but I just couldn’t do it. I looked back to see Laura and two other riders about 100 meters back, so I waited and jumped on with them. We kept them in sight, chasing hard for a while at 27. Laura and I even shed the other two riders, but we lost sight of the escaping trio after the turn on to Indian Creek.
I was spent. My pulls slowed to 22-23-24 as we passed Northwest River Park. Laura, who recently upgraded to Cat 2, remained strong. Not long after the turn onto Cedarville, the chasing duo caught back on us and we rolled all the way home, but I was dying. I haven’t been so fried in a while. In the end I averaged 24.5mph for 36 miles. Ouch.
Turns out one of the twosome Laura and I rode with was Jason Lloyd, a triathlete and former teammate from my Port Norfolk Bike days. We were surprised to recognize each other after the ride.
I want to thank Bill, Tim, Kevin, Laura and Chris for waiting. That really is what a team is all about.