let me say it up front: i averaged 20.7mph and i got dropped. had a great time though. i'm going back for more next tuesday.
the ride started off kind of ominously. i pulled up at the first stoplight feeling good. i clicked out and waited for green. when it changed, i clicked in and stood to accelerate. my chain flew off. i spun my cranks a couple of times and miraculously it jumped back on. i jumped on the pedals again. i had to catch up. chain disengaged a second time. same magical fix. i'm not making this up. i sat and accelerated more slowly and everything went fine. i caught the leaders who were taking it fairly easy at this point. at the next light, i stayed seated and had no chain problems.
the ride out was pretty enjoyable. i actually felt pretty strong. i was tucked in about five or six back in a side-by-side paceline. life was good. the rotating didn't start until we'd been riding for quite some time. the leaders pulled the rest of us along at 23-24mph straight into a SSW wind. when we turned east, they pealed off and let someone else take over. it was probably ten minutes before i found myself back one on the outside line. we started a slight climb and the guy in the lead started dropping back. i felt good, so i pulled around and lead the line up and over the top. it was awesome!
we continued on for awhile, taking turns. after my turn at the front, i went to the back and played in the draft, spinning in my little ring at 20-22mph. the wind was killing people out front. wasn't bad at all where i sat.
about a half mile from the group's turn around there was a mad dash sprint. i was next to another guy who just shook his head and watched. "this is a recreational ride," he said. "i'm not going to kill myself. they can have the prize money."
so we turned around and headed back. with the wind at our backs, the real ride began. i immediately noticed a different mood in the line. there were violent accelerations and then brief pauses. we were cruising at 25-28mph now. the accelerations took us over 30mph. somewhere along the way i hit 36.4mph. have no idea where since my eyes were on the wheel in front of me on not on my cateye.
we rode on like this for several miles and then rounded a curve. suddenly the group was gone. i stayed with them for a very short time and then they vanished. they just rode away from me and i was alone between groups. i mean really alone. the nearest riders behind me were about a quarter mile back. i slowed a bit and set my own pace - about 19-20mph.
after a few minutes in no man's land, a second rider named shawn caught up and we started working together. we tried to catch the lead group, but alas, our efforts were in vain. we did catch one rider who was cramping and another who dropped off the back, exhausted, but we never saw the others.
next thing i know, shawn gasps and says, "i'm burnt!" i ride up and pull him along for a mile or two up and over a couple of hills. when we got to the river, he took the lead with renewed vigor. nearly killed me climbing up and over the viaduct. we coasted down the other side and were mercifully stopped at a light.
after the light, we sped across to another light and were stopped again. at this light, four or five of the guys who'd been trailing behind us caught up. i was never so glad to see another cyclist in my life. i thought they'd help with the pulls over the last two or three miles. i was wrong. shawn and i ended up pulling most of the way.
about a mile before we were back to the gathering spot, shawn and two or three others pealed off and rode toward home. i was left with two other guys. we rode fairly hard and made it back as a pack of three. the leaders were already packed up and gone. i changed out of my cycling stuff and talked with vet, a guy i'd ridden with several times when life was good in the paceline. then barry, the guy who i'd talked to about the ride earlier in the day rolled in. we talked for a while and then i drove away.
the ride was a blast. i was tired at the end, but happy too. i'm coming back again next week without riding thirty miles earlier in the day. (26.35 miles @ 20.7mph)