Tonight I barely made it over to the shop for our little Thursday night group ride. I really look forward to this every week but it's pretty tight timing wise. Get home, change, check tire pressure, fill water bottles and go. How'd it go? Yeah I know everyone is just dying to know.
We have 2 Groups, the 5:15 group and the 5:30 group. I generally leave with the 5:30 group if there are no races on Saturday since they tend to ride a bit quicker and it gives us a chance to play catch the 5:15 group. Always fun. Anyway, we waited until about 5:25 and decided to go. It was just Mark, Howard, The Kid Mike and Me. Mark reamed (jokingly) me out for not showing up for the Race in DC a couple weeks back. That was another fiasco I'd rather not go into (story of my life). He ended up being the only Kelly Benefits guy there. I really wanted to race that one. Ah well, back to the group ride.
For some reason, Mark likes to start these rides out really fast not giving us much time to warm up. Hint; I do warm up, because I ride over to the shop beforehand, not that it matters. It starts out up hill on St. Thomas Lane then turns left for some fast flats and small hills towards Hunt Valley. Mark took a long pull, I took a pull, we look back and Howard is off the back. The Kid is hanging on riding his Flash looking Cervelo. I swear it's impossible to drop him. We motor along trading pulls until we notice one of the 5:15 guys up ahead, pass him and keep going. Horse Farms. Fences. Here comes Piney Grove and the first major hill. Piney Grove. I hear it's 18% and that sounds about right. Mark, The Kid, and I pass a few more 5:15ers including one on a Pinarello Prince wearing a matching Rock Racing jersey. So Pro looking. I get a little gap near the top but Mark and the Kid are soon flying by and it's about all I can do to jump on their wheel. We trade some more pulls, going extra hard towards our first sprint point where we also meet up with the rest of the 5:15ers. The kid goes around me at the last second to take that one.
Clark shows up in his bright yellow jersey coming from Reisterstown to join in the fun. We all regroup here before continuing on towards Boring, Maryland and the right turn at Byerly and our next sprint point. I'm a pretty bad sprinter so I figure I'll do a lead-out for the other guys. I'm secretly hoping Clark or Mark put a hurtin on The Kid. Don't get me wrong, The Kid's cool and all but you know what I mean. Sure enough, Mark and The Kid come around with about 200 yards to go and are gone. Mark takes that one with The Kid right on his tail and me taking 3rd.
Regroup and continue. I can't believe how quickly it's getting dark now. Now we're heading towards this pesky little hill they call "The Nipple" (cows on the left) where Mark always seems to make a jump to put some space between himself and the rest of us. I'm stuck behind Clark. (He hasn't been riding much) I go around him chasing down The Kid and Mark and manage to catch their wheel. The Kid takes a pull. I go around to pull. It's all downhill now. Fast. It's always the same here. Make a sweeping right. Mark flies around on the sweeping left. I try to grab his wheel. Catch him and wait until the last second and jump around him before our next regrouping. That is Tough! Clark caught us on the downhill section and finishes right behind me.
Now it's on to Butler, Mantua Hill and then ummm,... Geist, yeah Geist. Here are some more pesky little hills that aren't steep, but when you are trying to lose The Kid (Impossible I say) they are tough. The Kid and I chat about racing a bit, then Mark goes flying around. We grab his wheel. Time to set up for the sprint to Falls Road. Mark jumps around me and takes this one. Me, then The Kid following. Regroup again.
Falls Road, Knox, Greenspring, The Kid goes straight on Greenspring towards home. We turn Right onto Caves. The last hill. Finally. It's dark now. I crest the hill first, motor along until Mark and Clark catch me. They go around. We trade some pulls. Clark does one of his REALLY hard jumps after my pull where I'm about dead and can barely hang on, not that I'm gonna let them know my calf just cramped up. Last little hill on Garrison, back to St Thomas. I pull into the cemetary parking lot first, Clark and Mark right there with me. We wait for the others. Coast to the finish back at the shop.
Ahhhh Fun. There won't be many more of these this year unfortunately.
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