The first 40 at 20 of the year

word. this really doesn’t mean anything… just word.

It’s going to mean something when I drop the word “hammer” on you up the steeps!

You too EWEB. Just like cross season.

oh, no you did not! game on!

And just like that, the 2010 40 at 20 was on.

Here at Performance Bike corporate HQ we have a Wednesday evening tradition, once the weather starts to shake off the early spring chill and we get that extra hour of daylight, that we like to call the 40 at 20. As you might have guessed, the goal (and the route, usually) is the same every week: average a pace of 20 miles per hour over a 40 mile route of rolling country roads (and a few real hills) with 2 all-important, hotly contested, county line sprints! You never know who will show up to try their luck, but the rules are always the same: show up with a sense of humor (everyone gets made fun of at some point), keep the pace when you take your pulls at the front, and be sure you know the way back… because there’s a good chance no one will wait up if you get spit out the back!

So without further ado, we present the first in a series of mostly true, but definitely entertaining, ride summaries from our sometimes epic 40 mile group ride (which is currently only 30 miles long since we don’t quite have enough daylight after work yet), as seen through the eyes of Randy Jones, our mercurial receiving guru (and crafty sprint master).

First ride of the year:

With bluebird skies, mid 70s temps, and the day’s loose ends tied, nine of us suited up in our sausage casings and took to the Chatham County bi-ways. Leading out the pack was Ben and John, both clearly possessed of the demons as the ride was quickly up to pace in less than a country mile. Chatter was as brisk as the pace and tales of ‘Cross season victories, the latest NY Times bestsellers list, early Spring fitness (or lack thereof), upcoming shows at the Cat’s Cradle, and electrolyte replacement aftertastes blanketed the peloton with exuberant camaraderie.

When the talk shifted from scuttlebutt to pack position, we all knew the county line sprint was fast approaching. Jones and Rogers were leading the paceline, both acutely aware of the periphery and waiting to hear the tale-tale downshift of the first attacker. Gillis was the first to make a move, attempting to throw off the scent hounds with a flippant “I’m just the lead out!”, but we all knew better and it was time to break out the hammers. Webster, Turits, McCarter, Rogers and Jones tucked in and hoped our fast twitch muscles were up to snuff. Rogers, lacking an internal GPS, assumed the line was closer and jumped early; Turits and Webster countered, pulling Jones and McCarter along and out of the initial sprint group. With 30 yards to go, Turits must have kicked in the afterburners, because I could swear I heard his tires catch fire as he pulled away to victory. Webster hung on to second, while Jones took third. Breathing was labored for all for the next 2 miles.

At the 12 mile crossroads, decisions needed to be made: hang a right for the shorter loop, or head straight and continue the fast pace to outrun the setting sun? Tommy V and Ali opted for the former, claiming a forgotten spreadsheet data entry set and a photo sample request that needed their attention. The rest of us put our heads down, ramped up the speed, and hoped that the Gu and Nuun bottle mix would be enough to sustain us for the next 18 miles. Pulls were strong and steady, with Turits flat-lining us all for most of the HWY 54 stretch. As we headed onto the rollers down Old Chapel Hill Greensboro Rd, Baker moved to the front for a nice recovery pace, giving us all a chance to think about the final hill sprint that would soon be just around the corner, over the crest, down into the valley and staring us in the face.

Once again it was Gillis leading out the sprint, with Jones hard on his wheel. As the grade angle increased Turits and Webster came around on the left with McCarter tight. Jones made a jump past Gillis, elbowed McCarter out of the way and locked on to Turits’ wheel. Webster hung out left on his own, wisely knowing that he had the legs to drop Jones if Jones tried to keep pace with Turits. As before, the cannon legs of Turits fired and he dropped the chase like Girl Talk drops beats. Webster started pulling away from Jones, but was looking over his shoulder knowing that Jones would make one last push at the line; Jones did, but Webster’s kick was too strong and he took second, Jones third.

Gillis pulled the group back home at a strong pace and we all patted ourselves on the back for holding a 20.3 MPH average for the first 40(30)@20 ride of the season.

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