Shaking off the Dust

WARRENTON, VIRGINIA

It was a group ride with Prince William Cycling Club billed as “Shake off the dust and clean off the rust.” The departure location was the Old Bust Head Brewing Company in Warrenton.

I arrived on a cold morning (45º) with plenty of time but fiddled with my contact lenses. By the time I rolled up to the start at 8:59 a.m. (I could have moved quicker.)

There were about 40 cyclists but in two groups leaving at 9:00 a.m. I had to make sure to find the faster/longer group. If there was a division at the start I could certainly tell by the riders in each group. I also figured, correctly, that the faster group (15-16 mph and 40 miles) would be smaller than the 30-mile group. But we were in one large group and I needed to make sure as we rolled out. I also asked as we pedaled away.

There were nine of us. John (Orange Pinarello on Facebook), Charlie, Ed, Jamie, and Louis, three others, and me. I was the oldest.

On a group ride, no one says they check out everyone’s bikes but everybody does. Who’s on the neon carbon bike? Who has the oldest bike? Anyone with a classic bike? And who is riding a gravel bike on a road ride? Uh, that would be me.

I was perfectly dressed. But I guess we all were. Most worse leg or knee warmers. With an expected temperature of 60º, I wore my Roosters Racing kit. I had a light Roosters jacket which meant I was the guy in black/grey on a black/grey bike. I had knee warmers but my screaming color socks from Ridge Supply gave me a little color. And black “cookie” long-fingered gloves. No headcover under my helmet.

Only four of us said they uploaded the route to their computers and I don’t know who they were. I did and my Wahoo was working perfectly.

Store in Catharpin

Well, I wasn’t quite ready to roll. I didn’t have my gloves on. So I stayed at the back to get them adjusted then joined the group. We stayed together for a while. There was a split at the traffic light in Catharpin so the front group pulled over waited for the back group.

As we rolled into the country we gapped two riders. I do believe it was one rider and a sweeper. We were rolling along at 18-19 mph and someone asked us to slow the pace to no more than 16. I went to the front then did nose-breathing riding. Easy pace. After two miles I was told I caused a further split in the group. Damn me. We pulled over and waited for everyone to catch up.

We came to a country store where we caught the slower group. Since they left after us they obviously went a shorter way. They left before us and we caught them again in Cassanova but quickly turned onto our longer route.

It was at the store that John remembered where we had ridden together before. Two years ago I was riding from Manassas to home and he asked if he could ride along. He had remembered my Seinfeld story. At first, I was confused and then we both said “Delores!”

In October 2019, I was at Phil’s Cookie Fondo in Malibu, California. I happened to recognize the actress that plated Delores in the Seinfeld episode where he didn’t know his girlfriend’s name and it went too far that he could no longer ask her. So he had to figure it out. It was a classic episode and the actress, Susan Walters, posed for a photo with me. I talk too much.

Barry and Susan Walters

At 27 miles in, one of our riders, Bill, hit his wall. I told John I’d sweep and ride with Bill but John dropped back too so both of us did. We lost sight of the group. At Mile 34 we caught them as they had waited. I lost Bill and clawed my way to the front three riders. I guess I wanted everyone to know that I had not been dropped and could be riding at the front if I wanted to. I caught them at Mile 37 then let them go as this was a double left-hand turn. I wasn’t sure who knew the route and felt someone should wait for the stragglers to show them the way.

PWCC40 – Single file in Fauquier County

I counted seven riders then, after five minutes, decided to ride back to find our last two. I went 3/4 of a mile, uphill, before I saw them coming. Briefly, because so much time had elapsed, I had begun to worry that they took their own way back. But once I made contact we rode back down to the Battle of Coffee Hill then toured up Rogues road. Bill had to stop. Cramps. Badly.

Our game plan was for me to ride back to the start/finish (5.5 miles) then check on them. If they needed up I would go back and pick them up. I got back, called, and Bill had stopped completely and John was waiting with him. So I went and picked him up, This was Bill’s first outdoor ride of the year. It was my 60th.

The ride was supposed to be 15-16 mph. I came in at 17 and it would have been higher except for the 3-4 miles I rode sweeping with Bill. John’s ride was 16.5 mph so he lost 0.5 mph sweeping Bill. I may have lost that much too. I could not find someone in the first group to compare to but since we rode together that would have been my average.

But it was a beautiful late-winter day. And it served as a reminder that I have three weeks before my double-century ride in Florida. Need to get in the miles.

John thanked me for helping. If not me, then who? Hopefully, anyone in our group would have stepped up but no one did. I’m sure John would have but we had the luxury of him waiting with Bill for me to come back and pick him up. I had no room for John.