Daylight Saving Time started this past weekend. Some people have been complaining about DST because it's dark when they get up and go to work/school. Ain't nobody got time for that - DST means it's time for a new season of Tuesday Worlds!
Robert and I headed to Bolingbroke for what we estimate to be about our 15th year of Tuesday Worlds. It was great to reconnect with our cyclopeeps, especially the ones who didn't come out for Peach Peloton over the winter.
We also received a warm welcome from Mt. Zion Baptist Church, which has let us use their parking lot as our staging area for a number of years. Several church members greeted everyone as we arrived for Worlds, giving each cyclist a generous goody bag! We certainly appreciate their hospitality.
Bill is the de facto Grand Poobah of our group. Because it was our initial ride of the season, he gathered us for a brief meeting about A group/B group, route, etc.. Then he recognized Rev. Andy, the pastor of Mt. Zion, who was also kitted up to ride with us as he sometimes does. Bill thanked Rev. Andy, saying, "We don't know what the hell we would do if we couldn't park here." The group cracked up as Bill realized what he said and apologized. Rev. Andy let it roll right off his back, saying, "That's biblical."
Every year our group debates how to delineate the A group and the B group. Have everyone start together and let it split up when the attacks start? Start the A group and have the B group follow a few minutes later? There are pros and cons to both approaches. This year we settled on the latter approach. I'm sort of in the A-/B+ group. I like to ride hard, but when the strongest guys surge and attack, I usually get dropped. I decided to start with the A group and hang on as long as I could. If I got dropped, hopefully I could join the B group when they caught up.
We headed out on the familiar Tuesday route. About 6.5 miles in, we got to good ol' Moore Hill (the hill on Zebulon right before Moore Road). This climb has kicked my butt more times than I can count. Amazingly, I stayed with the guys. They started to drop me right at the top, but I clawed back on. Thankfully, I had a breather for a few pedal strokes when I caught up.
Hmm...Moore Hill was tough, as I expected, but I didn't get dropped there like I did almost every time last year. Maybe the guys were going slower for the first Worlds of the year. Maybe it was a fluke. Or maybe...I might have a better night than I had anticipated.
A little more climbing on Moore - I stayed on. Left on Shi, then a mile later, right on Hill Road. The turn onto Hill and the subsequent descent are often my undoing. This time I hung on! The pace was about as hard as I could sustain, but it was steady. As long as there weren't serious surges or attacks, I might have a chance at hanging on for a while.
Another steady effort up King, right onto Highway 41, and a quick left onto Old Macon. I felt good on the climb before Rumble Road.
Past the church in Smarr and onto Reedy Creek - this would be my real proving ground. The climbs on Reedy Creek are notorious for plucking riders from the peloton. The first climb is tough, but I stayed on. The second, slightly smaller climb - OK. Then the hardest one - the third, steep climb followed by the false flat to the end of the road. I made it!
We kept up a fast but steady pace through the Maynard's Mill fly zone. I had stayed on for more than half the ride. (I remember back when Robert and I first started riding in Macon - back then I was excited when I hung on for 10 miles!) I was working hard, but I estimated that I could continue my effort for the 10 or 12 remaining miles as long as there weren't big surges or attacks.
Back on the Zebulon Road lollipop stick. The guys always hit it hard on these locally famous climbs: Alpe d'Zebulon, Icing on the Kake, and Zeb Kicker. However, by now I was confident in the power my leg muscles were putting out.
We turned onto Estes for the final push. I felt fine until we approached Sanders Road. I expected us to turn right, returning to the church the same way we had gone out, as we've done the last few years. I must have missed the discussion about going back in on Rivoli. The peloton continued straight and strong on Estes, and I had to rev it up again after I slowed down for the turn we didn't take after all. But I caught back on and stayed with the group until - hallelujah! - they sat up for the cool-down over the last couple of miles.
I was ecstatic! I hadn't hung with the A group the entire time since (I think) 2016. I know why I was able to hang on tonight.
For the last few months, Robert has had me doing some cycling-specific weight lifting. I've been lifting weights since I was in high school, but it's mostly been light weights at high repetition to maintain muscle tone. Now, I'm also doing squats and Bulgarian split squats, using enough weight so that it's hard to complete a set of 10. These two exercises target the quads, hamstrings, and glutes, developing exactly the kind of power that helps in Tuesday Worlds.
Tonight as I struggled up the hardest climbs and bridged the gap a few times, my lungs felt like they were going to explode - that's not uncommon as I try to stay with the guys at Tuesday Worlds. The difference is that my muscles felt like they were bearing some of that load of exertion. It was enough to let me hang on.
Here's to an auspicious start to the 2018 season of Tuesday Worlds!