Foolproof Plan.

Friday night I saw the message on Facebook. A 50 mile(ish) group ride out to Hiland road.

I'd been feeling off recently (like for the last six months), so I thought I'd hang on the back and maybe get in some miles. 8:00AM sounded a bit early, given the morning temperatures this time of year, but that would allow me to get out there and not anger the wife. Three hours on the road, a couple hours with the family, then off to the bike swap to offload a couple bikes and some random parts. Perfect. A three hour tour. A three hour tour.

The ride left as planned, and we took a leisurely pace around Anchorage and out to Eagle River, picking up various and sundry riders as we went. The tranquil pace should have been a warning flag to me, but I figured once we warmed up we'd start turning them over and I could sit in the draft and eat up some miles.

We hit Hiland Road, which is comprised of eight or so miles of climbing. While the kids that wanted to play scampered up the hill, I hung back with the slower riders and rode easy. Joey caught up with us low on the hill, then proceeded to wrap his rear derailleur around his spokes. Perhaps my incessant pace-making was too much for him. Perhaps those adjustments I made to his bike when he wasn't looking weren't a great idea. We'll never know, because his ride was done and he was headed to the coffee shop.
Some quick calculations told me I was in for some profuse apologizing and a mid-priced dinner when I got home. Manageable, especially if I did well at the bike swap and didn't spend too much.

The higher we climbed, the colder it got, but I still stripped off the first 50 layers to avoid overheating. No use in loading up my high-tech and expensive kit with 20 gallons of sweat on the way up, then freezing into a salty ice cube on the way down.

Eventually my climbing prowess wore out the majority of the gruppetto, and they vanished from sight. I assumed we'd pick them up on the way down. As we neared the top, the lead group passed on their way down, obviously well-rested and ready to move on. I made another assumption that they were headed for the coffee shop. This continued my perfect record of guessing wrong. 

Three of us linked up for the chilly descent and ride to the coffee shop, only to find Joey was the sole member of the pack there, waiting for a ride home. The rest had bailed to avoid angering spouses further. I, on the other hand, had just begun to piss of my wife. My remaining companions were unfamiliar with the road system, so I was left as tour guide to get them home. This was going to cost me.

After a lingering over coffee and pastries, we rode back towards the starting point. Almost 6 hours after I left home, I rode up to the house to witness steam coming out of my wife's ears. I showered quickly and took the family out to lunch, where my sick toddler did his Exorcist baby impression in the Schlotzsky's seating area. After cleaning him up a bit, I swung by the bike swap to catch the last 30 minutes and let him give sloppy kisses to all of the competition. Just leveling the playing field, because I've been coated with more than enough of his bodily fluids the last week. I didn't sell anything at the swap and I didn't buy anything, so I guess I won. I guess my stuff will go up on Craigslist along with all of the other stuff people were unable to sell.

The wife and I had a lovely (and pricey) dinner that night, and I spent my Sunday doing chores and changing the oil in her car. She seemed slightly less red and twisted up as the weekend ended, which I took as a good sign.

Maybe I can sneak out next week...


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