Ms. Slim and I had company over night. They left about 8:30 am, and I was on my bike by 9:00 (I felt it would have been rude to be in my lycra while they were eating). My ride group, the Tweeners, had left about 8:00. I knew the route they were taking and figured if I skipped the loop to the cemetery I would catch them by the bridge, where they always stop for a break. I may not be the fastest rider in the group, but I knew I was faster than the group as a whole.
I hammered (for me) to the first place I could possibly run into them (at about 10 miles). Not there. I pushed on, hoping at each turn or hill crest I would see them. The route had been flat-to-small-rollers until I started the one climb, at about 15 miles. Do you have some hill that, for some reason, just fits your style? This is mine. About 2 miles, probably no more than 5-6% most of the way, with a couple of pretty flat spots. I was pretty sure I'd see the stragglers of the group here, because I know I do this hill pretty well. Nope.
At the bridge, no one.
I'm beginning to think I may have gotten in front of them by cutting that little loop out at the beginning. By the way, here's a picture of the lake today and from the same spot last April.
I do a little math and figure they MIGHT be in front of me. Our new ride leader has the group moving a little faster. But as I start down the other side, I can see ahead and no one is in sight.
I head on into the metropolis of Wheatland (pop 2275) and Big Al's Market, our usual stop. There was a bit of a tailwind and I make good time for this 5 mile stretch. I purchase a Western Family 20 oz cola for 88 cents and ask if a group of riders has already been there. Nope.
I decide to wait 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes, I backtrack for 1 1/2 miles. Nope.
That's it. I'm on my own. Now, just because I have populated this little story with these guys
, you really shouldn't get the idea I'm not having fun. First, my iPod is playing great stuff. Second, wind has been good and my average mph keeps going up. After winding through some walnut groves,
I turn for home and find myself cruising at 22-24 mph with a 3/4 tailwind on a flat, straight road. A flagman sees me coming and waves me through. Even when I make the left turn off this road, I still have a 3/4 tailwind and no problem maintaining 18-19 mph, again flat.
I catch a 50+-looking guy on an Xmart mtb, full suspension (no helmet) and slow to chat a bit. He asks about my bike and seemed to take a little offense when I suggest that his bike might weight 30 lbs (I'm being generous to him). "Oh, no", he protests, "My friend gave it to me and it's really good, it costs over $500".
After a bit, I move on. Once in my neigborhood, I check the cafe to see if the group happens to be there. Nope. I head home. I would have enjoyed finding my group, but I also enjoyed the solo 55.31 miles with my iPod. 16 mph. Exactly 4 hours gone. 58 songs played.