We actually had a calm day or two here this week, in amongst tornado warnings, thunderstorms and flooding, so I'd hoped tonight's shop ride would be gently breezy, but no, it was 20 mph, gusting to 26. Only this time it was coming out of the southwest so we had it in our faces the latter half of the ride. The group shattered right after we turned into the wind, and while I'd been able to bridge minor gaps 2 or 3 times on the way out, this time when I called on my legs they refused to answer. I ended up riding home alone, or so I thought until a pencil-thin guy 30 years my junior piped up from behind me and thanked me for towing him. I had no idea he was there. We did a few miles side by side and talked a bit. Turns out he's a newcomer to cycling and is still getting his legs. Nice guy, but I was a little surprised someone like him had to hide behind me.
Long story short, with no place to take shelter from the wind, I did the 26 miles with a moving average of 16.3. Nothing to write home about. The Garmin speed chart is almost comical - you can clearly see where the headwind took place. It's especially evident if you use the player function and overlay speed and heart rate. The first half was high speed, low HR, and the latter was the opposite.
If I weren't having so much fun I'd be discouraged that I've been dropped now 3 out of 5 rides.