I have always loved the saying, "When pigs fly." This morning, I believe the saying was modified a bit...
Jenny's love affair with Thurmont Pig (see below blog) seems a perfect segue into today's team ride.
DC Velo has this lovely tradition of the 7am ride: at the height of winter training, one can count 50+ riders, and on days with rain and below freezing temps, maybe one dedicated rider will bring his game. With refreshing temperatures this morning and a promise of clear skies for at least a couple hours, six of the ladies decided to introduce a little estrogen into the 7am. I'd like to think we blend in, but this group knows: women are few and far between. Tracy Rankin and Beth Mason make the most consistent appearances, which explains their fortitude during the season. Train with a strong, fast, experienced group of men every weekend and it shows. See you guys and gals next week ; )
This morning, the pack split into a few groups up kick My-ass-achusetts Avenue. Today the pace was steady, but one never knows how the legs will feel. Jenny and Wendy stuck with the pack while HvT, Zeigler, Michelle and I decided to practice our paceline and maybe, just maybe bridge the gap that had formed. Enough practice makes perfect or at least pretty looking. After a few pulls, we figured out which way the wind was coming, how to back off enough after each pull, and how to tuck in close to our line so as to get the most out of the paceline. As girls do, we congratulated and encouraged each other on how nicely we were doing.
Ahead, a lone rider. Male. We move slightly left to pass him. Few more rotations and another lone rider comes in sight. Male. We overtake him. Our paceline continues up MacArthur until we hit Old Angler's. While I'm all for sitting on a paceline when you are tired or know it's best not to interrupt the ballet of movement in front of you, I must say, it was smugly comforting to know that we had these men drafting our paceline, and yet, not once coming through for a pull. To note: a female rider (Fuji shorts) joined us off of Clara Barton and immediately jumped in for some pulls.
And now back to the title of this blog. The 7am utimately split into two large groups after an hour into the ride. I don't know the street names, so I won't try to make 'em up, but I stuck with a group of about 25 riders that decided to wind through a neighborhood. Three ladies went with one group, three of us went with the other. We're all about introducing a little balance (feng shui if-you-will) into the ride. No it's not just about arranging furniture in a room.
HvT commented at once, "what's with all this braking?" I laughed and said, "It feels like home." I'll never forget the W4 Murad road race where racers pointed out roadkill and signaled hand turns... HvT worked her way up the side to the front and the pace seemed to keep tempo. Then a flyer goes up the left. LSV rider. He gets a good 50 yrds up the road and an NCVC rider flies after him. They have now opened up a sizeable distance from the group, which did not flinch. Conversations continued, people sucked at Gu packets, and enjoyed the tempo. Time to see where my legs are. I fell into my drops and worked up my speed until I felt I was on top of the right gear and I sprinted up to the two riders and a third who appeared to be a biker commuting to work (carrying extra-large backpack). With no one on my wheel, I eased off (i.e., started to breath again) and punched at my power meter to see my watts.
I swear, not 5 seconds passed and I hear a Whoosh! and Scott Cernich of Route 1 Velo comes flying by. He turns and grins at me and immediately pulls over so I can grab his wheel. The riders keep coming. At that point, it becomes clear: the pack is hammering, and they are not slowing down. It's back on. Fun.
Michelle rides up and I wonder aloud whether that effort was all my legs could do or not. "Did I have my form right?" I ask. I've been known to ride like a periscope. Straight up. Not the most aero. Michelle informs me I looked solid, but that the best part was the pack's reaction to a woman attacking. When the two men attacked up the road, no one budged. When the rider in a pink jacket, pink-trimmed helmet and ponytail whizzed away, the pack reacted. What! a female Cat 3 attacked the notoriously tough 7am ride? and is getting away! When pink flies! And so, I was caught rather quickly.
We have come full circle. If someone ever asks whether a male rider would let a female rider attack and get away, the likely response is: "When pigs fly."