It is Couse creek about 10 miles south of Asotin. The sun is shining and the wind is at my back. I am in my aerobars working hard. I am alone!
No it is not the scheduled Saturday long ride. That was rained out. Heavy humidity, wet roads, and a grey mist made this day look unpromising. The afternoon forecast called for some sun and a small chance of rain. I felt confident the Sunday Cycling Society ride would happen.
But I was anxious. I hadn't ridden since Thursday and wanted more miles. I sometime ride early on a Sunday, have lunch at Taco Johns on Southway and then join the group. That's what I planned to do, but at 9:30 it remained grey, damp, and unwelcoming. I sat down to my computer and soon became involved in a project.
When I looked up it was already 10:30 and still grey. I like to get 30 miles before lunch on these days. It was already unlikely I could do that if I was going to stop for lunch at 12;30.
i began to dress for the ride and as I did the clouds parted revealing blue sky and a gift of sunshine. I was on the road by 9:45. "Tell Mom the sun came out and I left," I advised Tony as I left the house.
I headed south toward the 10 mile bridge, where I usually turn around on daily rides. Near the ball parks I spotted a single rider out ahead. Was it Gary sneaking in extra morning miles? I had picked up my pace but I wasn't gaining ground very fast or at all. It was mile before I began to catch up. The rider must have seen me or for some other reason had eased up a bit and now I was catching him easily. It wasn't Gary.
The first time I met this man, I've never asked for a name, he was catching me on this same route just getting back to Asotin. He is slender, rides in cycling kit, and sports a grey chin-beard. He had caught me when I was doing about as much as I could. Clearly he was a stronger rider than I. Soon he turned off to follow his own route. I've seen him several times since just as I'm going out and he is headed home. We've never ridden long together.
But this mornign we were going the same way. I was fresh from two days off and already up to speed. We managed a faster pace than I would have done by myself and he stayed with me to 10 mile, I followed him taking a left at the ball park and climbing to the fair grounds before descending back to the river through town. We rode together talking of cycling all the way to Taco Time. He headed home, but I found I still had time to add a couple of miles before hitting lunch. I wouldn't quite be at 30 at lunch but thanks to the pace, I'd be at 28. I felt good.
The sun continued to shine. Stephanie appeared at Taco Johns for just a moment enroute to dropping off the kids before joining us. I called her Jennifer as I usally do. Sorry.
"Couse Creek," Gary suggested as the group discussed routes. That'd be a bit less than 20 miles. Buffalo Eddy would be another 3 or 4 miles beyond Couse Creek. It is a flat route and I had hoped we'd do Lindsay Creek. I'd had speed, and now I was ready to slow down and do some climbing.
As is usual the group, Donna, Gary, Linda, Bill, Stephanie, Tonya and Neil (from last week's Lapwai loop ride), and I got spread out crossing Southway. Doug had show uup on his Salsa Fargo and he and Bill took off once we got to Clarkston. I rode with them a ways and then Bill and I got to talking about Joseph. We never saw Doug again.
Helen called just as I passed the 129 junction outside of Asotin. I stopped to take the call and everyone passed me. Smart phones are hard to work with int he sun and mine is worse than most, stubborn about responding, and recalcitrant when it does, slowly doling out actions. The phone had stopped ringing but I was able to determine who had called. I wasn't going to fight with the blamed thing though to call her back. I was sure she and Bill were running late and wanted to know which direction we had taken. Later in an exchange of poone messages that became clearly the case. Sorry, Helen. Didn't mean to blow you off, but the group was dropping me.
From that moment on I had the sense that I was behind. I enjoyed the chase, once again getting up to speed.
I followed Donna and Stephanie across the 10 mile bridge compleely convinced that Gary and Bill were out ahead, probably with Doug.
I moved into the aerobars and increased my cadence. The ache in my legs melted away. I set a fast steady pace I could maintain thinking I'd see them around the next bend or if not then, the one after that.
At Couse Creek I hadn't caught up. "Those . . . . They went on to Buffalo Eddy," I thought. I'd wanted 85 miles on Saturday but expected to get no more than 60 today. I knew that I would have 60 or more if I turned around. But I still believed Gary and Bill were ahead of me and I expected to be able to ride back with them and likely catch the main group before they turned around at Couse Creek.
I went on. Had I looked back I'd have seen Gary and Bill. But I didn't. The wind was at my back and I was in the full glory of my bike ride.
At Buffalo Eddy I still saw no signs of Gary and Bill. Had they gone on to the end of the pavement? If so, they'd have to catch me now. I was going back. It would be difficult enough to catch the main group. Now I found a head wind buffeting me. My legs and lungs were complaining and the wind held me back. I could still get in the aerobars and hold a good pace but where had everyone gone? Had I missed them at Couse Creek. Had they been off the road on the otherside where I hadn't looked closely? Were they laughing at me?
And why hadn't I caught Linda, Donna, Tonya, and Neil? i knew why. The extra miles, no matter how fast you pedal, are not all in the same directions as the others are traveling. And some of you guys turned around before Couse Creek. I didn;t have a chance.
As i crested the little rise above the 10 mile bridge, I saw Linda and Stephanie just starting up from a stop. They told me the others were just ahead so I zipped on until finally I saw Bill who'd taken a nature break. By now I was tired and Bill pushed us trying to catch up. Just out of Asotin we caught Donna and Gary. I hadn't seen them since I'd left Donna at 10 mile.
Looks my group ride turned into a solo. No one to blame but myself. I just lost track of where everyone was. I had managed to drop myself.
Oh, well. I got a good ride in and managed 70 miles. I missed riding with Tonya and Neil. Sorry, guys.
For the Ride of it--Corrie