What a relief!

When I left the office and headed home to get ready for the Thursday ride, I was feeling pretty apprehensive and yet excited.  Excited because I was going to get to ride after being off the bike for two days and apprehensive because I wasn’t sure how my shoulder would react to the effort.  The ride would tell the story.

I stopped into Sunshine Cycle Shop to pick up my new helmet before heading out. Steve Baker came in while I was there to interview John James for a story he is putting together for GO Magazine.  I won’t give away his subject, but I’m pretty excited to read it when it comes out.

When I brought my bike up to the group, I was happy to see there were a number of riders there.  It was a good group of regulars.  It was good to see Rob back out.  Anthony was also there.  Speaking of Anthony, turns out he was the Barley’s rider that was telling me to pull through at the last Donaldson Center ride I rode.

We pulled out and I was feeling pretty good.  I had rubbed my shoulder down with some Biofreeze and it felt downright normal.  Word was we were going to go on the Hour of Power route.  That sounded good because there would be less climbing.  Then I heard that we would be tacking Paris Mountain onto the end of it!

The first test of my shoulder would be the Meece Bridge Road sprint.  As we approached the attack zone, John moved over and Anthony moved to the front.  I moved onto his wheel.  It was pretty much he and I as we neared the rise that starts the run in to the finish.  He shifted to gain more speed and I shifted two and jumped.  He let me go.

Then it was time for a little climb.  This would put a different strain on my shoulder as I would climb the quarry road.  I let the group go on ahead.  My plan was just to ride up steady at my own pace.  I had already told John that I wasn’t going to go for it.  He would have to fly the POA banner on this one.

Well, what do you know.  By the time we reached the false flat I was sitting on the wheel of Art who was in the lead at that point.  I just kept tapping out my cadence and moved to the front.  There was no doubt that John was back there and soon he would be coming around to take over.   My plan was just to keep spinning and keep the force in my legs and avoid pulling on the bars. Sure enough, John came around and took the finish.

Now I was toast. To say my legs felt like Jello wouldn’t be a good description.  Do you remember Stretch Armstrong – those dolls that you could stretch for unnatural distances?  Well, that is what my legs felt like – gooey but hard.  It didn’t help that Bob and I got caught at an intersection and had to chase back to the group just before we turned to go up Altamont Road.

Again the rest of the guys started up ahead of me.  I was about 30 seconds behind because I got caught up in some traffic at an intersection.  I figured some of the riders would come back to me, but there were several I knew I wouldn’t see again until the top.  Anthony had gone home, so I knew he wasn’t ahead.

Passing several riders I came up on Bob and Tyler.  I was surprised that I caught Bob just before the halfway point.  However, I couldn’t get past them.  They sped up a bit and I slowed some.  We continued this way for some time.

It was on this climb that the ache in my shoulder became more noticeable.  It was probably because my body was just getting tired.  I was also rocking on the bike a bit more causing me to pull on the bars.  It is a good training mechanism to cause me to focus on using my legs more instead of burning energy in the rest of my body.

This post is getting long enough.  There were lots of other things that I could write about – like the time Bob and I went into an unfamiliar corner way too hot and nearly came to grief together.  There was the race between Tyler and I to see who would be back to the shop first.  There were plenty of little odds and ends that make these rides so much fun.

I just hope that this time McPain will read this before Gunny calls him.