“The Bridge” ride was a killer. These mountain rides always seem to affect me in different ways. Sometimes I’ll bounce back pretty quickly, fresh and rejuvenated. Other times I’ll be sore and tired for a little while. This week fell into the latter category. I was sore most of Monday and Tuesday, then for some reason I felt worse on Wednesday. Some extra foam rolling took care of me, and Thursday I was getting some spring back.
The weather was perfect, and daylight is dwindling, so I took part in the Thursday Columbia ride. This one is short and sweet, and pretty much a hammerfest. At first I was planning on riding with the intermediate group, until I ended up on the wheel of the fast group. I pretty much stayed there until getting dropped on a hill, then caught up at a stop sign, and remained with them the rest of the way back. This ride is always a blast, and I was happy to have some of my legs back.
Saturday morning would be something new. The Vork guys that I rode with on Bridge to Bridge invited me to join them for their early morning ride. This would be a shorter, easier ride for them. With Six Gap coming up next week, that sounded good to me. There were only six riders this morning, probably fewer than usual. We started out easily enough through Peak, then looping back around just before Little Mountain.
The ride had been relatively casual to that point, with maybe an 18 mph average. I was taking my time eating a Clif mini, when all of a sudden Gabe says “left here.” My mouth still full, I looked to my left, and saw a steep incline. There was not enough time to get into my little ring, so I immediately stood up, and did what I could to power up the steep 10-11% pitch. After making it up the first crest, I thought it would level off. Not the case. It continued uphill at an easier grade, maybe in the 3-5% vicinity, and continued for quite awhile. All told, it was about a 2-mile climb with only 260 feet elevation gained. The speed at which the Vorkers attacked it made it a lot tougher than it sounds.
That was Clark Road. Strava rates it as a Category 4, and it may be one of the better climbs I’ve found in the Columbia area.
After the climb, I realized I had accidentally only brought one bottle. The other was empty. Doh! Nobody else had anything to spare, but fortunately Gregg aka “Tater” brought some of his homemade milkshakes. We pulled over to a quiet wooded area, where I filled up. After fueling up with TaterJuiceTM, I felt a lot better.
I shouldn’t have to say this, but the paragraph above is entirely fiction. The longer I ride with the Vork guys, the more likely I’ll get photoshopped onto something embarrassing. Although I can’t imagine anything trumping the above image.
As we were nearing the end of the ride, I found myself talking to Gregg and John. I didn’t notice that Gabe and Kevin had started hammering, and we were getting gapped. Gregg suddenly attacked to catch up, then the chase was on. I pushed with everything I had, with John behind me. I couldn’t close the distance. John came around, and I jumped on his wheel. We made up some ground, but were still a ways back. My turn again, and I simply couldn’t keep it going. I backed off, John ended up passing me, and he eventually caught back up. I was dropped and exhausted.
No worries. That’s actually a good thing. If I am going to do anything in France next year, I’ll need to ride with people that will keep me on my toes. I’m sure I’ll be dropped again, but the Vork guys will definitely keep pushing me.