Skinny Guys Beat Me Up and Took My Lunch Money

I rolled up to the group ride meeting place and started sizing up the other riders. I imagine the others were doing the same thing. Once upon a time I used to look at bikes, but that was always a mistake. Too many times the guy on the most expensive bike was the first dropped, while the guy on the entry level aluminum bike proceeded to kick everyone in the naughty bits.

Instead, I looked at riders. Of the few riders in the group, made smaller when the group leader bailed because it looked like it might rain (seriously?), two stood out. Defined calves, smile creases, and race-cut jerseys that were loose around their midsections indicated that these would be the guys making me hurt today. 

That was fine with me, because having random strangers flay me alive is why I show up for group rides when I travel. Getting stomped on by the same old cast and crew is fine, but you know how and when it's going to happen. Strangers always add a new element.

After a short discussion of the merits and pitfalls of internal cable routing, we started off on what promised to be 35+ miles of climbing with some extra climbing thrown in for good measure, followed by an ascent and perhaps an upward trajectory. I looked at the route profile beforehand, but apparently not close enough. In particular, I didn't notice that the feature described in all capital letters in the description as "THE WALL" occurred only a couple miles into the route. This provided far too little time for my travel-knotted legs to unwrap. I also failed to notice exactly how long THE WALL actually was. One of those skinny guys I took notice of at the start had been doing warmup laps of the area, and when he went, I jumped on his wheel. That was a mistake.

It wasn't long before I was red-lined and sweat was pouring off of my head like Niagra Falls. Halfway up I popped and had to back off. At this point I saw that we had traveled less than three miles. This wasn't going to get any better.

When I got to the top, the two leaders were long gone, although their giggles still echoed through the hills. I finally caught up with them at the next turn, mainly because they were stopped. It dawned on me right about then that I was going to have to pace myself if I wanted to get off the mountain alive.

After some nice, easy rollers, we started a gradual climb. At first I found the pace manageable, but after a couple miles of steady incline one of the riders decided to take it up a notch. That was a notch I didn't possess, so I watched as they slowly disappeared up the road. Each corner was like a cruel joke, where what looked like the crest was only a switchback to an even steeper pitch. By the time I reached the top, even these two guys that had obviously had great fun making fun of the sweating, wheezing fatty looked concerned.

From there it was a couple short pitches before miles of downhill fun. Fatty was ready to exact his revenge, because gravity likes me- a lot. The skinnier of the two sadists didn't have the same relationship with the earth's suction power as I did, so I quickly overtook him and eventually passed the other one. I did have to sit up, because I had no idea where I was. This was a good idea, because our route to the start included a short bike portage down a deer trail that I would have never seen even if I had known about it.

The ride was exactly what I wanted, and I hope I get another chance to get beaten up by these guys. For maniacal sadists, they aren't too bad. Then again, that could be the post-ride pain meds talking...

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