40 at 20 #4 – Knee Highs and Thighs

Randy continues his multiloquent recaps of our weekly Wednesday night group ride, where the goal remains the same (ride 40 miles at an average pace of 20 miles per hour) but the cast of characters is always changing (eds. note: this ride took place on a Thursday, because everyone wimped out on a drizzly Wednesday):

Maybe it was the moon phase, or the extra day of rest, or just the sugar rush of a double chocolate glazed Dunkin donut, but when discussions of sprinting prowess and podium placement begin at 9am, you just know the evening’s ride is going to be special.

Under skies and temps the best we’ve seen all year, 9 fitter, happier, and more productive riders ebulliently mounted up for the first true 40@20.  Webster, the first to throw a jab that morning, was also the first to put a qualifier on his condition for the ride, claiming that some sort of parasitic invasion to his abdomen and a nautilus shaped rash on his inner thigh might lead to an early bail out.  Rogers was less ambiguous about his need to cut things short—his wife would slap the Irish accent out of his mouth if he wasn’t home by seven.  The lead out was spirited and the mood jovial as we double pace lined into majestic county rollers.  Gillis suggested we add River Road to the night’s route, and there were some grumblings in the peloton about this addition, as there are river beds that are smoother than this actual road.  It was immediately clear that the local community college uses River to teach asphalting during the summer session only, because there were pot holes large enough to swallow Jabba and enough grass growing in the cracks to host a badminton tourney.  We all looked like aircraft directors as we pointed out no less than 387 road hazards.  Unfortunately, Tony D missed one of the cues and was swallowed up in an asphalt crevasse, never to be seen again.

Once back onto smooth pavement, and just a few miles from the county line sprint, Ali decided she’d had enough of the languid pace and shot to the front.  Her pull wasn’t long but it was super strong and it sent a message to the fellas that we’d better stop talking about panel seams, bulges and seat rub, and start thinking about blowing the legs off each other at the line.  Rogers broke early for the lead-out sprint and Gillis, Baker, and Jones were greatly appreciative for it.  McCarter, Webster and Overby had their own game of chess going, and they took our queen with only 300 meters to go.  Rogers blew up, Gillis and Baker organized a sit-in, Jones elbowed up behind Webster.  Overby and McCarter were off the front battling for the win, and it was McCarter by just a mutton chop at the line.  Webster, forgetting to heed Costner’s advice in American Flyers (never look back at your attacker, for he will soon be your destroyer) watched Jones take third away from him at the last centimeter.

At the crossroads, the group scaled to 6 and took on a conversational pace.  Jones rambled on about the Titus Andronicus show at the 506, McCarter looked forward to Superchunk in May, Overby thought he could stomach Widespread if it meant some time with a husky-voiced lass, Gillis talked about his new carbon fiber hairbrush, Webster was still hacking and wheezing from the sprint, and Baker recounted his near-drowning during his first tri of the year.  As we rounded onto 54, McCarter decided he’d had enough of Webster’s blathering about qualifying for the mountain bike nationals, and pinned it all the way to and up the first stretch of Orange Grove.  Before the left, Baker caught a whiff of Nando’s burrito wafting down from Fiesta Grill and bid us farewell for the night to partake of that head-size culinary masterpiece.  Jones and Gillis pulled long and hard to Dairyland, then Webster took the pull of the ride, averaging nearly 20mph for the full uphill stretch to Dodson’s Crossroads.  Overby and McCarter got the best of the slide back to 54, and we were all tempted to stop in at the biker bar, Kraken, for a round with the Hell’s Angels.  Gillis, ever Zen, suggested otherwise, once having been on the receiving end of a size 16 motorcycle boot back in the 70s while attending a Stones show in just a loin cloth.

We all felt strong on the pedals heading back in to the sprint stretch, with only Gillis needing the aid of a gel to maintain the 20+ average.  Damascus, always the road of last words and surprise attacks, lived up to its rep.  McCarter sprinted off the front early trying to unhinge the group before the final descent; Gillis, Jones and Webster jumped on; Overby just laughed.  We accordioned, but were back together as we descended, and it was McCarter who attacked again and took the lead out for the hill sprint.  Jones and Gillis were tight on his wheel, with Overby and Webster jockeying for the tail-whip position.  McCarter’s two attacks in as many miles were too much for him to maintain, and he threw out the left hand and waved the group by half way up the hill.  Jones could sense that he was dropping Gillis and maybe the others, but then recalled that Overby’s laugh had hinted at something wicked, and that the black knee-highs of the Prince of Darkness might soon be in his periphery.  Jones’s sense was acute, and Overby shot by him like a pinball from the hole shot. Webster tried to hang with him, but Overby had crafted a new sit-stand-kick-flip fakey to Madonna move that had him 20 lengths ahead of the chase before Gillis could even yell “check his biopassport”.   The battle was for second now, and Webster and Jones were seasoned veterans at this game.  Webster grunted.  Jones cursed.  Webster spit.  Jones felt his spleen erupt. Webster yelled mazel tov and took the line by a wheel.  We all hurt.

Not satisfied with the sprint win, Overby kept up the pace and pushed the group to hit the high mark.  His pace was spot on and we rolled into the ranch right at 40.8 miles with an average of 21 MPH!  There was music in the air, and if I had to guess our soundtracks, it would have been this:

Overby:  Wave of Mutilation by The Pixies

Gillis:  1901 by Phoenix

McCarter:  Three’s Company Theme Song by Nicholl and Raposo

Webster:  Macarena by Los del Rio

Jones:  L’idole des Jaunes by Stella

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