I decided to ride with the EB's out of Manorville today, wondering if all these base miles are actually adding up to something. In a word, YES! Had a great, fast ride, and felt strong for the whole route. It was also an interesting ride with respect to the group dynamics.
Oatmeal and coffee for breakfast, then loaded the car for the ride out to Manorville. Got there by 7:45 AM for the 8:00 AM start. We had 20 riders by the time we rolled out. It was nice catching up with the gang for the first few miles: Pyzahl, John & Robin, John Y., Fintan, Gary, Karl, etc.
Seven or eight miles in, someone lost a bottle. There were lots of shouts for the group to slow-up so he could retrieve the bottle then rejoin the group. But, the front group had a head of steam going and did not slow down. The back group that I was in, waited until the rider rejoined and then headed in pursuit of the front group. I initiated a chase but no one else wanted to try to bridge. In the end, it was futile.
Now on my own, I caught up to Fintan who also had lost his bottle and was unable to catch back on the front group. He and I rode together to the climb at the Northville tanks, just as the second group was about to make contact from behind. We had a good pace up the climb and were joined by Gary. The three of us had a pretty good gap on the group behind and worked hard together figuring that we would regroup with the front riders at the usual spot.
When we got to the regroup point, we were greeted by an empty parking lot. The front group decided to keep going and bypassed it. We three decided to wait for the group behind to catch up. Once we were back together, we headed out to the Cutchogue deli stop, the next point that we might have any chance to get back with the front group.
At the deli, just a couple of riders who bypassed the tanks in the hope of catching the front group at the deli, but were unsuccessful. We stopped so some riders could refill water bottles and grab a power bar. At this point we found that Robin had a shredded rear derailleur cable and could not shift out of the smallest cog. Luckily, she had a hex key and a couple of us proceeded to adjust the cable to a better gear in the back. At least she would have two gears to use by shifting the front ring.
After the deli, we would now be heading into the wind. We kept an easier pace, 19-20 MPH so no one would get dropped off the back and have to ride alone into the wind. The last major obstacles were Rt. 51 and Rt. 111. No major attacks in our group but everyone rode strong. I think we must have finished with a ride average over 20 MPH for the 54 miles, thanks to the tailwind for the first part of the ride.
For my part, I took some long, strong pulls. Felt really good today, and I'm pretty sure I could have stayed with the front group if we didn't have that early split. Kind of strange they didn't stop but I guess its hard to stop a fast moving train. All-in-all it was a great ride for me and I realized how much I miss the sensation of riding in a fast-moving group. I need to get out to this ride more often this season.