I met up with 5 others at Cass Park for a 9am start. There was a slight chance of rain in the morning, and because of that everyone else stayed at home or found shorter routes. Right off the start, the pace was at my threshold heading up Rt 89. After about 10 miles, I believe two riders had dropped off, and one had joined that skipped the start.
Heading up Rt 89 along the lake was my first experience in a paceline. This was only my third ride with a group of experienced riders, so I was still trying to get comfortable riding closely and staying alert to the actions of the guy ahead of me at all times. When we were near the shore, the wind had picked up just a little so we rode in a tight paceline for a while, bringing the average speed above 19mph.
I had no idea that you could still ride with a group but not pull, so after a minute of hard pedaling, I pulled off the front, and the next little hill was just too much for me to keep up. The other 4 guys were ready to keep pushing along, and they all passed me while I slowed down. I then realized how much benefit I was getting from the draft of the other riders, so I sprinted several times trying to catch up, but ultimately they were pulling away faster than I was able to keep up. I just wasn’t at the same level as them, considering these were seasoned riders and I was just on my 3rd group ride. At this point I had gone 45 miles, full speed, without a break.
Not knowing exactly where the route went, I just kept pedaling and watching the GPS for a place to round the top of the lake. At 50 miles was a convenience store where I saw the other bikes and the guys were inside. One of them told me that I was just a minute behind them, so I guess my sprinting kept me nearby but not with the group. We left after a short break, and I could only hang on for 5 miles. I was done riding that fast for the day!
The rest of the afternoon I rode much slower, around 14mph, took several breaks and tried to enjoy the solitary ride. When I reached the point where I had to decide if this was going to be a century ride of 100 miles or around 85 instead, I decided to go for it. At an upcoming turn I got back on the short route because I realized I was just too tired to ride more miles. I got downtown, tried to find a bus up Rt 96 to get home, but the next one was more than an hour away. I pedaled very slowly up the hill to get home!