2nd Saturday of spring, my 2nd Saturday ride. The 3rd ride for some of the usual suspects, but a few of us in this group were otherwise engaged in the indoor time trial 2 weeks ago. Ah, but last week ... last week was the first full day of spring. We set a 9am start time (late for us) in order to get a few degrees up. And we had a fantastic 40+ miles.
It did not look good for a ride this weekend. All the good weather had come early in the week, and reports for today were not promising. But late in the day Friday it looked like we might just get in a couple of hours before the nasty stuff. Yes, it would be cold (32-33 degrees), but some sun and the roads would be dry.
Bundled up, we met in the Prairie Trail parking lot, as usual, and were on the way a couple of minutes past 8. Now, I needed to be back by 11, and that set the limit - perhaps a bit lower than the group would have chosen. I also had a phone call just before we took off: trouble at work. Then about 8 miles into the ride, another call: reporting in trouble at work. For this call, the group chose to wait for me, for which I was thankful. Jonny even hung back and helped me catch up, and we found the group ready to enter Army Trail road headed west.
It was cold this morning, with a pretty stiff NNE wind. Which is to say ... a day you want to stay together especially when heading north and east. And a group of 6 should provide lots of support for a long pull back east through Fermi Lab on today's loop. Straight into the cold wind, this pretty strong group was just managing about 15mph on the road that cuts across Fermi. Short pulls, and when I got to the fore I knew why.
When I slipped to the back, I quickly lost my place off the back, and had to really scramble to catch back up. I even called out for help ... which I have never done before, and maybe it isn't done, but in any case it was calling into the wind and wasn't heard. Just as I caught Fred's wheel, "car back!" brought the paceline into single file ... and me then back out of the draft and into the wind. Car past, the line spread again across the lane and everyone was covered - except me. Then the guy who followed me up front slipped back - into the space I should have occupied, and very distinctly noticing where I was. And that was pretty much that.
There I was, about 8 miles from home, with my "friends" slipping away in front of my eyes. Heck, I could even see the next change or two on the draft line. But before long, they were long gone. There was no way I was going to catch them. When I got to Mack Rd. and Rte. 59, I saw whoever was now in back cross the highway as the light turned red. It's a long light, and I was pretty far behind it anyway. I never saw them again.
Except JB, who, returning to his home in Batavia, called out as he passed by "character building." It was at this point that I wished I had the colorful expletives that somehow seemed so apt.
I had the whole long ride home, alone, into the wind. On the one hand, actually I managed quite well, thank you. On the other hand, though, while I have fallen behind with this group in the past, and have even told them "go ahead, I can get home on my own," this time it just seemed rude. What? They couldn't slow down just a bit to let me catch up and catch my wind? All 5 guys were heedless enough to just let me slog out this ride? Honestly, cutting 1mph for about 5 mintues would have done it, early on. It isn't like the group was unaware of the challenges - it was all we talked about before we set out.
So, here I am at the end of the day, and finding myself still really peaved. First, feeling like a weak rider. Second, feeling like I may not be regarded in this group. Then, thinking that maybe this isn't the friendly ride I've convinced myself it has been. And finally, just mad that any of this matters to me.
Next Saturday I can't ride due to a family commitment. Maybe in 2 weeks' time I will have calmed down to enjoy the group again. They have been, after all, my cycling lifeline. But honestly, dropped? Ouch.