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In the Pink
- SlingShot

Ok, great. Now go for it!
Let's see what you've got.

It was surprising to find everybody in such good shape after such a sad winter.

Even though there had not been much snow up north, there had been an endless stream of ice and rain.

Of course, the Widder and I already had 2000 miles in, under the hot Florida sun on an infinitely long, hard as you like it hill—also called the flats.

So it was not surprising for us to be pretty strong, but it was quite surprising to find others in the pink.

It was a so called easy Sunday ride the day after everybody had done the Hump.

Since it was a Turtle Boy ride, it started from Humberto Cavalheiro's house and included me, The Widder, Nuclear Dan, Palletman, General G Douglas Allen, and another rider who needed to confirm his current training status after taking a couple dozen pounds off over the winter.

As always, my job was to serve as road test dummy for the performance test, and the ride started as usual.

The Widder was to be off the clock so to speak, and her only assignment was to stay on General G's wheel (because he wouldn't be doing anything stupid), and to document the ride with her power meter for a final check on the horror inflicted by group rides.

I don't need a power meter to keep track of my ride, because I have a bathroom scale. After I get on it in the morning I can accurately predict my performance for every little hill, rise, or bump all along the course, which today was to be The Big Lollipop.

The Big Lollipop is a 52 mile straight out and back relatively flat ride with a loop around at the far end. There is also a Little Lollipop ride, but it has been so long since we've done it, nobody remembers what it is.

The ride was going along exactly as I predicted, and I explained probabilities to Nuclear Dan as we warmed up in the back. I was just pointing out what was happening.

The Widder had her drafting and documenting assignment, so she would not be pushing the pace ever.

General G would just be going along to get along, and he would not be doing anything stupid, because he would be recovering from the Hump and getting ready for upcoming races.

Palletman has been winning races, so this ride wouldn't even come close to being a challenge for him, but he still has a lot of insecurities left over from when he first started riding, so he might have to prove himself at some point.

Nuclear Dan himself was just sitting in to get mileage before the Farmlands Flat Century coming up the week after next.

Of course, Humberto (Turtle Boy) Cavalheiro performs so astronomically above all the other attending riders he would just be noodling around in back, running to the front, pulling from the front once in awhile (when things got too boring), sometimes disappearing out of sight up harder climbs, coming back, stopping to take a piss, then catching the ride again at his pleasure.

Our test rider, however, would no doubt (after a few years of abysmal performance) have a lot to prove, so there might be some trouble in that package. I didn't mention to Dan what my job was to be, because everybody knows: it is always the same.

I serve as the baseline test for people's performance analysis. If they have been off their game, I am an easy first kill to get their juices churning, and if they believe they have been performing well but get beaten by me (ever), they know it is time to review their training logs, or maybe just shoot themselves.

I use a number of specialized techniques in order to help people in their self assessment, but the main one is to just stay on their wheel if they go off the front. Others in the ride (especially in this ride) are chatting and farting around way behind while ignoring all the breakaways.

My job is to make sure the rider performing their test has a solid index of the truth of their ride, not a misread due to how the other riders appear to be doing.

If they drop me fine, at least they kicked SlingShot's ass (which a surprising number of riders find worth doing), but if I stay on their wheel it is back to the charts and graphs.

In order to enhance our testing rider's experience today (since I was staying on their wheel for not just one, but for each and every hill), I decided it would be better to add a verbal cue. As soon as I saw him shut down at the top, I shouted with much excitement, "We dropped all of 'em again!" on each and every hill.

I am not sure why, but for some reason it seemed my prompting became somewhat of an annoyance. However, I know my job, and I never let people down, so I added an additional tag line near the end of a flat-out sprint on a flat.

Turtle Boy was pulling the group, and I was floating along politely on his wheel when our test rider attacked. I saw his front wheel in my periphery, so I gave a quick look to make sure nobody was following and jumped on his back wheel as it passed. As we went off the front Turtle Boy gave an almost imperceptible glance which fully communicated, "What's the point of that? Oh, he probably thinks he's sprinting."

A ways down the road I noticed my trip computer showed we were over 28 mph, verging on 29, so it was time for bonus help.

I cheered our rider on with, "Ok, great. Now go for it! Let's see what you've got."

There was a slight stutter in the pace. I guessed more help was needed, so I prompted, "That's it? That's all you got?"

Since there was no reply I was afraid I would be called to task for not doing my job, so I gave a pre-analysis base point, "At least you could try to get me out of Zone 1, but nice job. That was hard."

He immediately shut it down and made the left turn toward the first hard hill home.

Like I mentioned, I had seen the morning bathroom scale, so as the others were catching us, I knew it was time to quickly add, "Thanks for the ride guys. See you all later."

Apparently my calculations were off a little, because I caught the group pretty easily after the hardest part of the first hill.

Then I got to make Palletman feel at home by trying to shove him into the weeds a few times... just like in a race. I must admit I fell off my assignment a little there.

Maybe I projected my intent a little too obviously, because I never succeeded in getting him off the pavement. However, I really tried my best, and that's all anybody can expect.

After that there was one more round of rolling uphills where I stayed on our test rider's wheel. I'm sure he was pleased to confirm that he could not come close to dropping me on hills that he routinely dropped me on way back when. I didn't even have to provide verbal analysis for that series.

I merely watched the base of his neck to gauge requirements. Although that rider is very careful to hide every possible hint of effort, they still have never mastered the art of masking the red faced part of their struggle.

Oh sure, they are good at looking away, so you can't see them breathing hard, and that keeps the more obvious frontal glow from view, but the color changes around the back of their neck and shoulders are still always obvious—if one knows what to look for.

In fact, when his neck rolls get big enough, they glow up bright and shiny just like brake lights, which one might assume he has applied.

In any case, it was good to see our test rider back in the pink again.

Ok, great. Now go for it! Let's see what you've got.
SlingShot after the ride.
Good work takes a toll.


Editor's Note: The Widder agrees that her power meter laid bare some standard emotional nonsense about her doing several "personal bests" during this ride, because it revealed that those several moments, where she thought she was "over the top," were really moments where she was performing well below her new ability.

Group rides do that to you. They also have a tendency to make you work too hard when you shouldn't and generally screw up your training program all around. Lots of fun. Easy to do too many of them.

However, Widder still wants to use data gathered with a tire gauge after the ride to lodge a formal complaint and request a re-ride.

Apparently, her poor performance on Route 32 (at the end of the ride), and her subsequent less than stellar climb up Clove Road, in which she had to be pulled back to the group by General G Douglas Allen, proved to be the result of having only 80 lbs of pressure in her rear tire for the final 15 miles after her flat, not to mention how long she might have had the flat before Palletman noticed and pointed it out to her.

ARC is taking this under advisement and will make a decision at a later date. We did run over some gnarly wire (such as found in her tire) on the way out of Humberto's development.


this page last updated: 02/01/2015 11:17:50 PM

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