Friday Group Ride #18

Stop! Do you hear that? That tense silence between the Flanders and Ardennes Classics? It’s like that frozen moment where everyone on the group ride looks up, sees the town line sign, and does the difficult math that will determine whether or not they’ll even bother to sprint for it.

Right now, even as the week winds down, the pro riders are assessing their physical condition, their dodgy knees and raspy chests, trying to decide whether they even dare to start Amstel Gold. Because now the season is under way. They’ve been up mountains and over cobbles. They’ve crashed. They’ve put themselves through wringers and limped across finishes into the merciful hands of soigneurs and masseurs.

We should all be so lucky.

In honor of this tense juncture, we would like to talk about YOUR hardest ride. What was it? Where did you go, and why was it so hard? Was it the distance? A crash? An injury? A mechanical? Did you bleed? How long did it take to recover? Give us detail. Exaggerate. Paint it in vivid, thick strokes like Van Gogh or Van Halen.


While we’re at it, name the winner of Amstel Gold. The first post with the right rider gets a free RKP sticker pack. I’ll give you a hint, it won’t be Cancellara. You’re welcome.

Image: John Pierce, Photosport International

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  1. Timothy Day

    My hardest ride was also one of my best. Sort of like the Boy Scout saying “The times you suffer the most, you remember the longest.” It was my first group ride after breaking my hip. My mantra “keep f-ing pedaling”. Good group on the very popular CC Philadelphia to Valley Forge via Umbria to the trail route. About 60 miles all told. A dull ache made it hard to stand and climb but I kept it together in the saddle up the small hills. My HR was all over the place from the excitement/adrenaline cocktail. Felt amazing not to be the last guy in the group to get up and down. I can remember gripping the hoods like they were a life raft at sea, I was so nervous about crashing again. It was great to ride with a group that knew what had happened to me and really had my back.

  2. Bob Gade

    Terrible Two 2009.
    This was my first double century. I have heard that it is rated at the hardest double there is. I wouldn’t argue.
    I registered the day before, after a planned 180 mile Santa Cruz-San Francisco-Santa Cruz with friends was cancelled. I figured I had some good fitness, so I called up the organizer and begged my way in.
    After waking up at 3:30 to wake up, eat, and make the drive to Sebastapool, I rolled up to the start with about 250 other hearty souls. My plan was to try to stay with the front group as long as I wasn’t riding above my limit. My plan fell apart as the group split because of stop signs in Santa Rosa. I was now chasing back on my own as we hit the days first test – Trinity Grade. At the top I caught a straggler on a TT bike. As we hit the downhill, he told me to jump on, and he proceeded to pull me up to the next group. After he took a rest at the back, my TT friend began taking massive pulls as we sped north on Napa’s Silverado Trail. Sometime after Calistoga, it was time for the Geysers, a 12 mile, 2 part climb that has put many a rider’s double dreams to bed on hotter editions of the ride. It was at this point the the winner of the ride rode away from me. Next was some rolling as we made our way NW toward Lake Sonoma and the “lunch” stop. After another 30 second break, we headed for Skeggs Springs road, another nasty beast. By this time, I was very aware that these climbs were much steeper than my training grounds in the east bay. Somewhere close to the top, I ran into a friend who had been dropped from the lead group after suffering an asthma attack. After using an inhaler and recovering a bit, he was ready to go. He had told me the week before that he was attempting to break 12 hours. We regrouped with 2 more that had been dropped from the main group, and started to work together, taking advantage of a great tailwind as we rolled south on Highway 1. It was now time for the Fort Ross climb. This climb seems like it would be difficult on a normal day, but with 150 or so miles in the legs already, it was a real bear. My friend and I had shed our other 2 companions, and at that point, we realized we had a shot at breaking 12 hrs. It was on: two man time trial to the finish. My neck was killing me, the lower back nearly froze up. As we got closer, we could see we were going to make it and the endorphins started to kick in. We crossed the line in 11:51. Success! After a beer and herbal celebration, it was back to the bat cave.
    Definitely the hardest ride of my life. In fact, I don’t think I felt great on a bike for at least a month after. I can’t imagine this ride on one of the hot years, when the temp has been in the triple digits on the inland sections.
    That being said, it is one of my greatest accomplishments on a bike.

    My pick for Amstel: Chris Horner!

  3. mark

    Nothing worse than being in the lead group in a race and having a flat only to have to finish the course solo.

    Andy Schleck will win Amstel Gold.

  4. Souleur

    Pozatto for LBL

    My hardest ride was a training ride w/big John that could have been a race any day.

    A couple of summers ago, I befriended Big John, a Michigan logger who moved into town taking up an industial trade who was likewise a cyclist, mtn bike racer, and road racer. It was a threesome between Souleur, my best buddy Ken and Big John. Each of us thought we were the ‘best’. Big John was 51 y/o and had the proverbial billion mile legs of a cyclist. Ken, at 44, is a machine, a kenworth diesel if you will who doesn’t spin fast but puts out torque that is off the chart. Souleur, at the time was a 38 y/o hot head, who by all right should have been able to ride the best of all and who had the spirit not to admit anything different.

    It was perfect June afternoon. Thursdays we had been gathering for several weeks rolling out after work. Each week it had ramped up, to this penultimate week for which someone was going to die. Ken and I, natives if you will, hadn’t come to realize this newcomer had ‘billion mile legs’ and being territorial, thought this was our pissing ground, not his. Souleur and Ken have a reputation afterall as locals, and not many really enjoy riding with us all that much and we are ok with that. But Big John didn’t seem to mind. Ken mentioned during our conversation earlier ‘we got to break John’s legs next week and see what he’s got’. So it was game on.

    Big John routinely would show up in surprising fashion. A new ride, new wheels, new tyres, he seemed to really know his stuff, and rode accordingly. Tall, lanky and with panache, he would check over his steed for the week. We would hop on and go, and he would always be quite comfortable. Under hard efforts, he would simply go from being quiet to speechless. It was hard to understand what was in this man’s mind, what is he thinking, is he hurting?

    So on this given ride, it was us and Big John, on a 45 miler. The tailwind out decievingly gave us a smoking fast pace out despite the hills. 15% inclines were big ringed barely under 20mph, yet Big John was there. Smart enough to draft, hang on, hang in he was there. The hill repeats kept coming, one after the other timed right to be at intervals that just made the legs scream for mercy. By the half way mark, it was clear to all our motive. There was no talking on this ride, it was a friends battle between wills. Out of the saddle efforts with mouths wide open, sucking water in when we could characterized the intensity we had thus far.

    Then we turned around. The wind belted us in the face and I thought surely this will break our spirit as the only benefit of a tailwind was now taken away. It would be work and hard efforts all the way home. Then Big John went up front. The speed didn’t slow however, it rather dialed up a couple more notches. But…he was sitting. Steady eddy if you will. What in the world is going on?? Damn, he looked almost comfortable with the effort, calm and on the hoods shifting only rarely he set pace. Ken took second in line, I was now the kind benefactor of pulling the rear and having a draft. Mile after mile the headwinds meant nothing to Big John. Hills, headwind, broken pave’…nothing slowed him, and he seemingly understood it to the ‘T’ that he was the subject of an assasination that day, but he wasn’t playing quite the way we thought. Most would have died by now, but the apparent assasination was now possibly suicide by self inflicted gunshot wound to the gut, as I hung on considering if I would make it back. ‘It’ll be a cold day in hell before I let go’ I told myself, looking up through sweat from the drops, between breaths I could see Ken was suffering too. The wind pummeled us, the hills exponentially added up, the waterbottle was gone, my legs were pedaling squares and I was ready to throw up my lunch which was long burned up an hour ago. Then…I saw it in the distance, the city limit sign. I was mentally barely even there, but I knew, we were close to home. And it was over. Thank you God.

    Big John suffered that day too, as he complemented us, and said ‘these rides are what made him the good racer he was’. We really didn’t know until this self disclosure of his pedigree as we found out he won the overall mtn bike race in Michigan the week before, knocking out 50 miles on the mtn bike in just less than 3hr. Apparently he had quite the reputation as well, afterall, he was Big John.

    Complements taken, complements given.
    Don’t jack w/billion mile legs!

  5. todd k

    In honor of this tense juncture…

    This past winter I was riding with my team. On paper it was a simple training ride. We would ride 3 or so hours, cover 50 or so miles and do so at a reasonably moderate to low effort that would attempt to approximate typical base training miles. In other words, I was going on “just a ride”, something I do often and regularly.

    I was, though, using an atypical bike for the ride. The prior week, my right shift paddle fell off my road bike and was out of commission for the week. So, I went with the next available bike, which happened to be my cross bike. It also happened to be a cross bike that just went through an entire cross season and was certainly overdue for an overhaul. My pre ride inspection suggested it would pedal, it could stop and nothing was going to fall off and it was the only bike I had anyway that would reasonably sub into this type of ride.

    Things appeared effortless until about mile 35. At that juncture, I found myself up at the front of the pack helping pull us along. Suddenly the pace seemed entirely unsustainable. I chocked this up to being on the front rather than tucked into the group and me doing too much effort too soon. After a moment I swung off because it was apparent it was futile for me to try to sustain that effort. As the back of the group rode by I moved to the back but found I still struggled mightily to keep the pace. The pace we were traveling was entirely unspectacular, but it might as well have been the last 3k of a sprint finish in the TDF for I was dying a million deaths just to keep on. Eventually my struggle translated into me yo-yo-ing on and off the back. Each time I would fall off I would engage in the internal debate of “yes I can, no I can’t” as I attempted to bridge my self created gaps. Internally I was also flabbergasted I could not sustain the pace. It was demoralizing my psyche. Inevitably, with haggard breath, I ran out of gas and I was dropped. I watched the team slowly ride away into the distance a lonely dejected soul.

    We have a few guys on the team who typically assume the role of sweeper and will inevitably drift back to pace those that fall off. These guys are life savors and every team should have them though they are generally underappreciated until you find yourself that person they are pacing. My friend Geoff did this for me that day. But even pacing at a lower speed wasn’t helping me. I am guilty of riding with a power meter. Most of the time I find this a worthwhile tool, but when you are seeing your 110% perceived effort barely translate above what is your standard recovery effort (which happens to be quite an unspectacular number by the way), it has a very damning effect on your psyche. You start asking yourself if you would be better off getting off the bike and calling the wife to pick you up. You start thinking that maybe your prior good rides were all illusory. You start wondering how it is even physically possible that despite the thousands of miles you previously rode, you now find yourself barely able to pedal a bike on the flats at a low speed with your legs on fire and all due to no measure of heroic effort on your part. The word “feeble” endlessly looped in my brain.

    When your performance is desperate, grab even the most desperate twig. I hypothesized that I was bonking. Geoff gave me some gels, orange flavor. It was as good as eating at a five star restaurant in my mind.

    But they did zero to help me peddle better.

    I struggled to sustain a meager 15 mph on the flats. 17 mph was an all out effort and might as well have been a monster power interval as I would have to pull off that pace periodically to recover. Did I mention we had no wind that day? Sure felt like it, though. Brief inclines of 3% were nearly impossible. Riding up the top of an overpass was akin riding up Mont Ventoux. I mustered the mental strength to struggle to the end. I was a complete physical wreck and only a shell of a man. I was the kind of mess that includes a nasty acrid sweat smell, foggy peripheral vision and a numb mind.

    I have no definitive precise answer as to why everything went so far south. It was likely due to a combination of factors. Some was poor eating on the bike. Some was underestimating some of the early efforts as being truly effortless. And some was likely tied to the poor choice of choosing a bike that had just suffered through a full season of cross. (When it was overhauled we replaced the rear cassette, the front 46 chain ring, the bottom bracket, all the cables as these were deemed at the end of their useable life… that said it seemed to pedal fine and the data didnt suggest that was inherently the weak link).

    Regardless, it was easily the hardest effort ever for me on the bike even though the data for that ride would suggest anything but. If you analyzed the data relative to data from other days would suggest it was “just another ride”. In fact, it would likely suggest I had slacked off a bit too much that day.

    I’m going with Bjorn Leukemans for Amstel. No idea if he is about to run out of gas, but he has been riding strong this spring.

  6. Jonny

    Robert Gesink

    My worst ride was the first time i bonked, as a teenager with a new bike i decided to go on a long ride without food. After averaging 6-7mph I arrived home in the dark and delirious to worried parents.

  7. Jim

    A 12 hour mountain bike ride, solo, singlespeed. Randonees and road races were nothing in comparison. You can control your effort in those. With one gear and riding alone in the woods, there’s no way to control your effort. You either turn the pedals, or walk on the hills. So every hill is a trip deep into the red zone, comparable to a hill interval. On flats you spin out. After about 6 hours I was blowing something like snot out of my nose, except it was more like a long rope that I couldn’t reach the end of. After about 8, my hands were utterly numb, except for flashes of severe pain. At 10 I packed it in, utterly shattered. Even the mildest uphill grade was too hard to pedal up. Afterward, the organizers had free pizza and beer for the entire encampment. I couldn’t touch any of it. That night, I couldn’t sleep, and I pooped maybe 20 times. It was a phenomenal journey deep into the cycling pain cave, the event that turned me from a roadie into a cyclist. I’ll ride anything, anywhere now. It was life changing. It also recalibrated my pain threshold for road riding – I’ll go on a hard ride now, crack, keep going, bounce back, crack again, and keep going. There’s no different disciplines in bike racing; just different places to hold races.

  8. cboss

    Copper Triangle. July 2008
    78 miles, 3 mountain passes upto 12,000 ft. Copper Mtn > Leadville > Vail > CMtn. Normally that would qualify as fun ride.
    Now substitute, 10 miles of repaving between Leadville and Vail, consisting a essentially a dirt road, puddles, wind, and 2pm T-storm at 10,ooo ft.
    Good times.
    Beer never tasted so good as after that.

    Luis Leon Sanchez

  9. Michael

    i won’t use the word epic, as that is quite possibly the most overused word to describe an unforeseen adventure, but man, my most intriguing day on the bike was a 3 day suffer-fest on the mountain bike. and it was all pre-ordained!

    i showed up spring for the 1st round of the provincial MTB series in Quebec at Bromont. On the menu a friday 10.5 hour drive from my podunk hometown and a course recon.

    saturday – XC

    Sunday – hillclimb

    This is the 3rd week of May, it has been beautiful for 2 weeks so pack only light and midweight clothing for the trip. Mistake #1.

    After 10.5 hours stuck in a Toyota van with 5 other people and waaay too many bikes and gear, we arrive and head out for a course recon. 17.5 km loop, which we somehow got lost on and it ended up being more like 26km on no food and lot’s of fatigue.

    that night we hit the town and enjoy a couple of beers ( you already know that MTB’er + a couple of beers = more like a night of hard core debauchery)

    next day, completely wiped out, XC race. So bagged that i don’t warm up, 2 laps of the course + shorter finishing loop, we wake up and it is -4 degrees celcius and fresh snow has blanketed the course! No tights, knee or leg warmers, only a summer weight short sleeve jersey and some arm warmers.

    1 lap in, starting lap #2, 60% of the field already abandoned, do i continue or bail? considering I also had laryngitis for the past 6 days and was on hard core antibiotics as well as zero miles in my legs in the past month, i made the sensible choice and chose to soldier on to the finish 😉

    brutal, brutal, brutal and absolutely destroyed.

    next day hillclimb = welcome to the pain cave. made it to the top of the mountain in 37 minutes, or half again as much time as the winners.

    another 10.5 hour drive home, off the bike for 4 days as my body is just DONE.

    1st ride back out on my road bike 5 days later, was going for a short “easy” ride with 2 other riding buddies who had not made the trip. was sure i’d feel shitty and slow, but on the first climb (2.5k, average 7.5%) I was easily riding away without even trying. how odd.

    2nd climb out, 4.5 km @ 12%. This is going to hurt – only it didn’t. I was flying! Quickly dropped my buddies and decided to give her a solid go and have never ever, before then or since felt so strong on the bike.

    nothing like an early season suffer-fest to beat some form into your legs.

    man i wish i was 21 again!

  10. randomactsofcycling

    Aawww, this is the impossible answer! I have a new hardest ride nearly every week! As someone that struggles to hold onto the ‘A’ bunch in my local club, pain and suffering on the bike is a regular tonic for the suffering of the weekday 9-5.
    Consistently appearing at the top of my list though is the first ride of a weekend training camp in Australia’s Snowy Mountains. Khancoban to Thredbo Village is only 75kms, but in between we have two major climbs of 16km (5.5%) and 18kms (7.5%). Of course in between are a couple of ‘rollers’ that would ordinarily qualify as climbs.
    There were times I knew I could walk faster than I was riding, but I was determined to stay on the bike. The second climb passes through ‘Dead Horse Gap’ and it’s appropriately named! When I felt muscles beginning to cramp, I learned to modify my pedalling to utilise other muscle groups and ease the pain.
    This was the first time I had ever climbed for more than 30 minutes and it is the ride that took me to the upper limits of my will-power and physical endurance. Whenever I am hanging onto a wheel or closing a gap, I remember how much I suffered on that ride and re-assure myself that I can keep going until I’m back on the wheel.
    It’s the ride that cemented my love of cycling and confirmed that I am a cyclist.
    ….Oh….and Simon Gerrans for Amstel.

  11. Doug P

    The ’85 Davis Double was a stellar ride. We started in the pitch black dark, all 1400 of us behind the CHP cruiser, not even any starlight below the trees on Russell Blvd. Crashes all around me. The only way you knew there was a crash was the sound, that unfortunately familiar sound of bodies falling and metal scraping on pavement. Miraculously, I wasn’t involved in any of that. The Schwinn tandem was there, eager to show Joe Breeze and Otis Guy,(the previous tandem winners) who was boss. They basically led all 1400 of us out for the first 100 miles ’till the Big Canyon climb, where we shattered. At one point a pair of thoroughbred horses paced us. I’ll never forget that sight, those two magnificent animals running alongside us, just for the joy of it. At the lunch stop I had a weird experience. For a few minutes everything looked blurry. I took off my glasses and I saw perfectly! I could read street signs, some thing I couldn’t do since I was 12. Who knows why? The effect wore off, I put my glasses back on, but in the meantime the tandem team and the eventual single winner, Mike Fitzpatrick, had snuck away early from lunch! A group of us set out to chase. I eventually fell off, and came in 14th. My time was 9 hours 15 mins. The next year the CHP decided to ban the timed feature of the event, saying it was virtually a race. This timed century idea has been revived recently as “Gran Fondos”.
    For the ‘Beer Race” I pick Filippo Pozzato!

  12. SinglespeedJarv

    Back when I was racing our club organised a pre-season training weekend, nothing more complex than a two-day, out-and-back ride. Being skint a few of us found the idea of even a B&B prohibitive, so decided we’d ride two-thirds of the way with the main group, before heading west to stay overnight at the home of the mum of two brothers we rode with.

    Being pre-season in the UK meant the weather was unlikely to be favourable and this day was no different. At least it dawned dry, but the gale howling in from the west wasn’t going to make things tough.

    The mixed bag or riders meant that by the time the four of us split from the main group, after around 80miles, we’d already had to push a few people to help them along on the hills. Still we were elite or cat 1 riders, we could handle that, besides our training methods included riding heavy training bikes with the heaviest, most durable tyres we could squeeze in the arches, in which we ran puncture-proof tubes that weighed a pound each, all in the name of training.

    Gazing idly around the town, the road sign said we had 18miles to the next town. By a quick reckoning I figured we had little over 30miles to go, so roughly an hour and a half. We left town into the teeth of the gale and to the bottom of the first hill. It appeared we were riding along the hilliest road in Wales, our very own Liege-Bastogne-Liege. At one point cresting a hill, we were riding along a plataeu. The valley below swept from right to left, I felt some relief thinking we’d done the worst and all we had to do was follow the valley out west. Across the valley I could see the grey of a road snaking up the side of the valley, as if a child had drawn it and I thanked myself that we would not have to ride up it. We swept down a descent which took us to the foot of the climb, I blew about halfway up.

    By the time we’d done the 18miles to the next town I was running on empty. My pockets were empty and there wasn’t a lot left in the bottles. The climb out of the town had me in bottom gear soon after the start. Crawling up the hill one pedal revolution at a time, one of the brothers was weaving his lonely way up the hill a matter of metres in front of me. It might as well have been an ocean.

    The top of a hill is a relief whatever you’re state, the realisation that there isn’t road above you and the pedals are turning easier is enough to lift the most shattered of minds. I felt that I’d cracked it now, it had to be downhill now. And so followed a lengthy debate between the two brothers as to the best route to take and where the hell we actually were. Not even knowing where I was this debate was a little worrying, still decision made we rode on. By now every little incline had become a mountain and I was dropped soon after, I was so tired that on a steep descent I almost crashed because I couldn’t brake hard enough or grip the bars tightly enough.

    In a fog and the others out of sight, I had to guess the route a junctions only afterwards a tyre track through a puddle told me I was heading the right way as a clawed my way in bottom gear out of another ravine. Finally I saw one of my mates had come back to find me, but to keep any momentum I was having to be pushed all the time.

    The last couple of miles I was so tired I could barely see, let alone pedal. Even after a shower and buckets of food I was barely coherent. It had taken us about seven and a half hours to ride 110miles, although there were 2000metres of climbing en-route; in the morning I’d have to get up and ride the 110miles back home.

    Amstel Gold winner…I fear it will be Valv.Piti, so I’ll go for Oscarito instead.

  13. MattS

    Back when I was a teenager I rode from town to the hills and spend whole days on my mountain bike. I got into all kinds of trouble with crashes and bike failures out there alone, but I never thought of the rides as really hard themselves. There were quite a few challenges that came about though, but walking 30k home with a broken steerer tube isn’t hard, it just takes a long time.

    Truly hard rides occur on my road bike these days. I experienced my hardest ride ever in 2007, when my good friend Rodd and I took on our province’s ‘hardest century ride.’ We’d been spending all season doing long rides on mixed terrain, but we didn’t know what to expect from this event, the Hastings Highlands Hilly Hundred. We we sure the distance was ok, but what about the climbing, some 2500 meters.

    We started late, or so we thought. We’d seen a large group depart and figured it was ours. We chased hard for about 10k. Then a rider appeared and asked whether we were doing the longer (still unfathomable) 240k route. Uh, no. Turns out we were chasing those guys and the ‘160’ was behind us. Whoops. We rode with Edgars for a while and riders from the group behind soon caught up. Then it was game on.

    Some of these guys were strong, Edgars being one with the biggest legs I’d ever seen in person. The pace was steady, but the steep climbs started to hurt sooner than Rodd and I hoped. We were hanging in at the half-way point, but constantly questioning our ability to keep it up. How much pain could we sustain? Would we cramp? We didn’t really know.

    “This is not sustainable.” That was it, I said it. Rodd agreed. We pulled the chute and stopped to check our saddle heights. Both too low…odd. We agreed that probably didn’t help us. On we went.

    We’d let the lead group of about 7 others go, but we kept up a pace we thought we could sustain. Then we hit a series of steps that inflicted serious pain in my legs, pain that I’ve never experienced before, a deep aching. I had to stop. I am not a stopper. They hurt more, stopping wasn’t helping. We had to continue.

    Pain, and them some. My legs felt like they were eating themselves. We kept the pressure on. Would I have to quit? I wasn’t sure. We kept going. We consumed all we could at the stops to minimize the suffering, but nothing really helped. We limped in, still making good time, but thoroughly worked over. We could not wait to get back to the farmhouse we were staying at and eat. And rest. And eat. Having experienced cramping in the late kilometers of the ride, it was a challenge to get them comfortable. I think it took at least three days to feel roughly normal again, maybe more.

    The ride was the hardest I’ve ever done, primarily because of the ‘biological’ I experienced. As fate would have it, we’d return the following year and I stuck with the lead group until the end (after starting late doe to a forgotten helmet). We were three. Sure, I rode through hamstring cramps on the same killer series of climbs, and consequently damaged them significantly, but I’d vowed not to stop. In 2009 we returned yet again, and I stuck with the lead group once again, but this time without cramping. Rodd was “bleeding through his eyes” hanging onto my wheel as I pulled to get back onto the group after he flatted, which cost him too much. In 2010 we’ll try to keep both of us in the lead group until the end, along with a couple other team-mates I hope. Its all about pacing, the route itself is not a problem. Each year we are not sure whether we’ll be able to hang, and that’s a huge part of the appeal. Its really hard.

  14. Lachlan

    The winter death ride. 80 miles from home, and just after the group is split into pieces following some 15% grades that came just too soon after a short, muscle seizing cafe stop, you take a wrong turn… on your own.

    I realized all too late… Too late to turn and chase. Too late to do anything. But carry on.

    Not lost. No, not lost at all. Very very aware of where I was and how far to go.

    Still most of the snow is at the sides of, not on, the road, and its sunny. Sort of.

    In truth the hardest moment was not the ride at all. That mostly passed as a hallucinogenic dream of white lines passing under my front wheel, my tunnel vision only seeing the black asphalt and the white of the road markings. I recall no more and no less of the actual riding those few hours.

    It was the stop that hurt. – 20 miles still to go and 1mile into a 3mile climb, I’m sitting in a snowdrift eating a mars bar. My ass is hurting with the cold of the snow, but my hunger and empty legs keeping me sitting where I am while I star at 18 wheelers chug past on the main artery route I’m unwillingly committed to riding home. The driver stare back. No wonder.

    I know I have to start again. And all I can think about is that I really, really have to start wearing a hat under my helmet in winter. And I really, really would be riding faster if I’d put cinelli cork on my bars last change…. yep that will do it.

  15. Lachlan

    PS – Andy Schleck for the obvious ‘outsider given season, but no brainer in general’, is my pick to win.

  16. cthulhu

    Just returned from my race, will switch on the tube now. but before that. Gilbert. I hope is is still in the mix or else I ‘ll look like a complete fool 😉

  17. Michael

    I’d like to think that it was a rational prediction based on how Ryder’s form has silently progressed through the early season stage races, or that he was ominousely holding something back at those races to hide how well he was running. Or that he finished 5th at Eroica with proper form still weeks away as he worked towards peaking for the Ardennes (if he ever decides to try peaking a litte bit earlier and focusing on Flanders aka the cobbled Amstel, he would win Eroica easily).

    but really, at the end of the day, I was just being a homer 😉

    he is on the radar of every other team now, and it will be interesting to see what kind of leash he is given over the next races by them.

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