Red Light Blues

I knew the group road ride today was gonna be rough. I was feeling pretty beat up when I started my easy warm up over to Starbucks and as the fast crowd and the really fast crowd started filling the street corner, I wasn't looking forward to what was coming. I'd already revised my target goal from the left on to Link to the light in the middle of Mark Sheffel. And on the roll out down Boulder (before we'd merged with Platte) I was joking that I might not even make to Mark Sheffel. The roll out was that fast - nearing 20mph and the group was stretched along the road even at that point. I should have known better - I've done enough group rides now that I try to stay near the front on the roll out. But the group was so much bigger and moving so fast, I didn't really think about it. Then, cruising down Platte, the light near the mall turned yellow. The riders in the front (about half a block in front of the back of the pack - with that half block a solid stream of bikes two-three across) went through the light and kept pedalling. Most of the pack went through the light as it switched from yellow to red. It was solid red when the tail reached it and cars were already starting to honk. So we stopped. It was about eight of us on the wrong end of the light and we watched the peloton continue down Platte, waiting for the light to change.

The main pack was already under Academy Blvd when we finally started riding again. I knew it was going to be hopeless unless they got every light between there and Pete Field red. Two triathletes dropped into aero and motored off. I'm not sure what happened to the other four riders at the light - they may have just bailed. Jayson waited for me until after Academy, then I told him just to ride if he thought he could catch the group. I would try to stay on his wheel, but not to hold up if I popped. And I did. It was a solo effort from Powers Blvd, down Mark Sheffel, down and over the Link road hill, and down Old Pueblo Rd. I was there to work (or as Coach Durner said - "my plan is to make someone suffer on this ride - I don't care if it's just me!") so I rode as hard as I could. I almost made it to the rail road tracks before the herd came charging back, so wasn't too upset. The rail road tracks had been my goal. Then I got a good look at who was leading the pack today - a who's who of the local pros, both on and off the road. The really fast boys all showed up today! And it was pretty clear through Fort Carson that riding fast was the plan. We were cruising along at 25-26 mph on that stretch. But this time I made it all the way through and to the left hand turn with the pack. Then I was done - time to ride home on my own, easy. Would I have made it further today if I'd been more aware and riding nearer the front at that start? Who knows. But a good reminder of road tactics - especially when the groups start getting huge like that!

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