I was embarassed yesterday, but thought I'd post it anyway. On yesterday's ride, I passed a group of about six young guys out training on a team ride. They were on the side of the road doing something to one of the bikes. As I passed, I thought I'd see if I could stay ahead of them for the next few miles (I had a spot picked out as a goal). Just why I thought this was a good idea is beyond me. I mean I've told myself numerous times to drop the competitive stuff when riding. Yesterday it was to no avail. I drop the chain down two cogs and really started to push. I was flying along at around 24 mph, but as I looked in my helmet mirror, I could see them starting to gain. I dropped down another cog, but was starting to pay for it. It didn't matter much, because they were still gaining on me. OK, so now I go up a cog so that I'm not out of breath when they fly by, and I can at least talk. It takes another four or five minutes, but they catch me. Instead of flying by, however, the lead guy shouts out, "On your wheel!" I flick my left hand up as a wave of acknowledgement. So, suddendly, I'm leading the pace line. (Now the next part is the embarassment and shame on me part). I drop down a gear and push hard for about 100strokes. Now I'm feeling spent and drift off to the left to drop out of the line. They keep the pace, but as the last guy comes by he says, "Come on man. Jump on." So with all the effort I have left I jump on his wheel, but I'm having a hard time holding it. He calls out ahead to his team mates, "Drop it down a bit." And they do. They let me ride through the line and I get to pull one more time. As I drop back, I say thanks, but I'm done. They never say a word, but two of them wave as they continue flying down the road, and I'm left with the all too painful realization of just how much difference there is between a highly fit 20 something and a moderately fit 50+er.
Reflecting on this at home I realize this ride was a thrill and a half for me. Perhaps I'm being delusional, but I'm thinking I was at least riding well enough that they allowed me to ride with them as long as I could hold it. But, darn... I simply couldn't hold it very long. But while I was there... aaahhh, now that was cool.