Rolling out ahead of the pack leaves me constantly thinking of someone behind me, sizing me up to be overtaken. I've had the fast pack overtake me before and it's not fun. I was wondering IF, WHEN and WHERE they may catch me. I saw many riders riding in the opposite direction, heading toward the start or toward the pack with plans to catch on as they came by. I thought with my head start, they should catch me near the end and I should be able to catch on for a fast pull for maybe the last few miles. Also in my thoughts were the ominous, grey clouds that looked to dump buckets of rain on me at any time.
By mile eight, I was also overtaken by a solo rider. He rode by, said hello and I jumped on his wheel for a little pull. He was a big fella riding a Strock 0.9 or something like that. He was keeping a good steady pace and near Cumberland Parkway, he pulled away a little bit. I figured well, I guess that's it, he's gone. But as we approched the first little climb on the Parkway, I was reeling him in. He didn't like the climbs. Even though I topped the first of these little climbs in my 25 cog, I was still pulling him in.
At the peak of the first little climb, I pulled around him and pushed harder. I wanted to create a gap and he didn't like the hills so with two more little climbs on this stretch, now was my chance. After the three little climbs, approaching Paces Ferry, I slowed down to catch my breath, have a drink and get ready to bomb down this little stretch into the quaint village of Vinings.
This stretch of road was rough from construction, thick with traffic and the traffic lights slowed me down...all this took away some good momentum. I was thinking about the Strock guy, I'm sure he wanted to close the gap but I will say; I was feeling pretty proud of myself so far.
A right turn and a nice long, high speed dive back down to the river. As I expected, the Strock guy stormed past me. He was driving hard and so was I but I knew that the climb going up on the other side of the river would bring us back together. As we crossed the river, the sky's finally opened up and the rains came. Up ahead coming toward us was the main back of maybe 25 riders. Ain't no way those guys were going to catch us today.
I took a break and rode the wheel of the Strock guy for the majority of the climb. As I pulled around him, I thanked him for the pull and mentioned that the pack wouldn't catch us today, his face was looking down and there was no reply. A right turn, the road levels out then starts another long down hill and back comes the Strock guy. I'm behind him now, not on his wheel, he's ahead by about 10-12 yards. The rains were getting stronger and we were pretty much side by side now for a good long stretch.
Another downhill and yes, another climb. This time, I let the Strock guy have it. I took it easy, spinned my crank but gained ground at the same time. From here, I pulled ahead of the Strock and never looked back. The rains were still with us and I was feeding off it. I just kept digging all the way to the end. Back at the parking lot, I thanked the Strock guy for the ride and pushing me, he replied that I didn't need a push. I thanked him for the compliment and with the rain still pouring down on us, began to load up.
A very satisfying ride it was. Considering the rain, a solid pace for this hilly course at 16.9 avg. speed, 43.4 max. speed. Looking forward to my next ride.