Me and Bobby and Terry and Tommy.

Every Thursday, after the last notes of retreat died off, we'd do laps of the base. The first part of each lap was conversational, then, as if by silent agreement, one of the group would go to the front and start hammering. The others would fall in line. By the time we reached the chapel, the lead rider would rotate back and another would take his place. The tailwind we usually had here drove the speeds higher. We'd loop around the golf course, gaining speed as we reached the slight downhill towards base housing. When we rounded the corner at the event center we would get hit with the headwind. A stronger rider would take over and drive the pace mercilessly higher. A little gap left riders flailing for the remainder of the lap. A short sprint on the last straightaway, then a bit of regrouping and recovery before the next lap.
  
After four laps, we'd have a few beers.
  
Every week we would meet, riding the same laps. Round and round Keesler. Sometimes others would show up, but the core remained the same. It wasn't what I would call a challenging ride, although it had its moments. Mainly it was a fun ride, where you'd try to beat up on the other riders, hang on as best you could, or throw the odd attack just to see if you could make it stick. We'd always come back together.
  
They got stronger each week. More confident. They started gauging their efforts, timing their pulls, waiting for their moment to put it all on the line. The progression was great to see.
  
I wish we had regular rides like this or the Destroyer back in Anchorage. Same time every week, like clockwork. A scheduled beat-down to make you stronger, give you the opportunity to experiment, to show you the possible.
  
Instead, we race, which is something they don't do a lot of around here. I guess if we had more group rides, we'd have fewer races. I like the races. I like pinning on a number, lining up, and trying. When you get right down to it, our races mean no more or less than a group ride with a spirited town sign sprint... and yet they do. Hard to explain. We're not racing for money or trinkets or upgrades or the honor of Kazakhstan. We're racing because it's fun.
  
Just a different environment, I guess.

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