I wasn't planning to post about this evening's training ride, but I couldn't resist a special request from Butler University's own Brian Murphy, one of my favorite astrophysicists. Coach Bob invited me out to Hendricks County for a training session that included his teammates from Team CFW as well as various other local racers (including some Cat 1s and 2s and, rumor has it, a pro).
Before heading over to the training session, Bob, Brian and I puttered around Trader's Point for an hour, averaging around 17-19 mph. Then, we picked up a couple of other riders and headed out past Brownsburg towards Pittsboro. As we were running a bit behind schedule, Bob picked up the pace and we got a paceline going at about 25 mph. Our group of 6 finally met up with much larger group of riders, and we headed over to recently repaved Pittsboro road, which Bob had marked for a set of VO2 max intervals, followed by mini-races (of about 5.5 miles). We did (or, at least, we were supposed to do) one set of intervals followed by a race going north; and another set of intervals followed by a race going south.
We were broken up into several smaller groups, with stronger riders chasing less strong riders. As the least strong (and, not coincidentally, heaviest) rider present, already tired from riding to the ride, I decided to start on my own at the back. I did my VO2 max intervals, then hooked on to the back of the last group of the three supposedly strongest riders, which included a guy known to me only as "Lungs on a Stick." I actually managed to hang with them for about half the race, but I dropped off after we passed Bill Bahret to ride with him. Eventually, Bill and I met the rest of the group at the northern end of the race.
Immediately, we started back south. For the first mile and a half or so, most everyone was riding easy. Bob said we were supposed to be doing intervals, so I started doing a few more 30" on and 30" off, when all of sudden Bob called out that we had crossed the line for the start of the second race. This time, there were no separate groups. It was gruppo compacto. At first, the pace was pretty reasonable - around 24-to 25 mph. At one point, I actually followed my buddy Jonas Dahlstrom up the outside towards the front, to chase down someone who was breaking away. That was my last mistake. After a minute or two of chasing up towards the front, I determined that I would be better off just sitting in at the back of the pack. So, I pulled off to the outside and was drifting back, when all of a sudden another rider passed me very quickly and closely on the outside. I was spooked, hit the brakes, and the next thing I know, I'm playing a game of catch-up that I could never, ever win.
So, I just hunkered down and kept riding south, toward the Pittsboro truck stop, still a few miles in the distance, at my own pace. The peloton kept pulling farther and farther away from me, until they disappeared entirely from view. As I finally approached the bridge over I-74 just before the truck stop, I saw Coach Bob coming in the opposite direction to collect me. As we rode together, Brian and several others appeared to turn us around for the ride back home, which was uneventful, even pleasant. I got back to my car in the Fishback Creek Elementary School parking lot just as darkness was falling.
It was, for me, an unusually interesting (and lengthy) Tuesday evening ride, quite different from the regularly "Tuesday Night World Championships" at Nebo Ridge. Yes, there was some racing, most of which did not involve me; but there was also some real training, thanks to Coach Bob.
All told, I logged 55 miles (pretty good for a Tuesday evening), with normalized power of 251W and max power of over 850W (which is not bad for a route with no climbing). I believe I am now strong enough to lead Coach Bob and Brian Murphy to their training rides.