Wednesday, March 17, 2010

New threads, new season

Cycling season is really here now.  How do I know?  Well, the Thursday Night World Championships are back.   Every cycling community has a ride like this.  Sometimes it's called the 'hot ride', the 'A ride', or some kind of World Championships when we all know it's really a chance to get out there and get dropped by the local fastboys. 

Our edition goes something like this:  We meet up around 6pm and chat it up for a few, small groups of friends and teammates check the attendants and wonder who's fast this year.  As always, there are the loca Pro / Cat 1 rockets who come out to breathlessly hang out in the small chainring while the rest of us search for wheels.  Our loop is about 5 miles long, and has it all:  Flats for crushing tempos, rolling hills for out-of-the-saddle surges, and one long climb to separate the wheat from the chaff.  Said hill is at the end of the lap, so most low-level locals like myself use this as a measuring stick:  How many laps before I got dropped?

The first lap is a 'warm-up' with the pace around 18mph.  As one makes the climb to end the lap, the 'warm up' pace suddenly feels more like 'race pace' and the group begins to surge.   From then on, it's 'hold on for dear life.'  The group often splinters (if the PROs are in town), but sometimes it stays together as we turn out 2-3 more laps at rocket speed.  After racing my first Cat 5 crit, I thought I knew what fast was...then I went on this ride and got dropped like a rock halfway into the first fast lap.  Even after moving up to Cat 4 and placing well in road races, I can still say this ride is leaps beyond the effort usually expended in those races.  I am sure this is because the mix of talent is so diverse, the slow guys are shed quickly, and the fast local guys all want to throw down.  I usually just sit in or take a short pull when I can.

I bring all of this up because I might head out there tomorrow night.  With a practice run of the Boone-Roubaix course coming up on Saturday, I am in the market for a high-intensity midweek ride.  I might get to see a few old teammates and check my current skills against the old guard.  The PVS guys are fast and have been busy in the off-season, so we'll see. 

In other news, the CLM rolled out the new jersey colors today:
We went with a murdered-out look, but kept the orange rings on the sleeves for our roots.  Perhaps this little looker will go out with me tomorrow night.