Will picked me up at 7:30 and we stationwagoned it up to Silver Spring to try and catch the 8:30 ride (which actually starts closer to 8:45) before they took off. We got there early, with enough time to guzzle down a hot coffee, empty the system, and chit chat some. Some familiar R1V faces were Jose, Clifton and Carlos (says he's joining up). I figured in addition to Will and I, it should be a fun ride.
A nice thing about the 8:30 ride is that it breaks up into varying groups by speed. So we took off from the shop as a large mass, gathering more riders as we made our way to and through Bethesda up Massachusetts and over to MacArthur. By the time we were on the parkway it was a much smaller group.
We made the right off of the parkway back to MacArthur and made the left onto Mountain Gate Dr (which is much steeper than I remember it). RayMan attacked the group immediately and splintered the pack. I like riding with Ray. A few of us followed and were able to real him back in once we got to the top of the climb. The pace stayed hot through the neighborhood and down brickyard. Once down brickyard, we made our way up Angler's and down into Great Falls (just like the 7:00 am ride). I tried to conserve energy as the lead group kept getting more exclusive as the climbs carried on. I was with the lead group coming out of the park until Evan from Harley attacked us and splintered the group even more. By the time we got to Oaklyn, the group was down to about 7 to 9 with each of us taking our turn at the front keeping the pace high.
Between Oaklyn and Democracy, the benefit of taking short pulls and working together was made evident to me. Sure some of the stronger guys could have attacked and dropped us, but having us around allowed for the pace to stay higher than it might have been if there were only 2 or 3 total riders in the group. More time to recover with more people to take pulls allowed for each pull to be a little stronger than with less...granted this is the off season and maybe those oxes were hanging out in zone 1 while I was suffering, but I'll chalk it up as success.
The lead out on Democracy was eye-opening as well. Evan lead out Clifton with me in tow and had the pace so high that once Clifton got going, there was no way that I could come around him (even though I was right on his wheel). Now granted Clifton is a monster and I don't know many people that can come around him once he gets going (I know I can't...as proved on Sunday), but I think it makes the point that a well organized and implemented lead out train can be super successful at keeping anybody but "your" sprinter from taking the line.
Overall, a good week of riding. I think I was just under 200 miles for the week on the bike with two good weekend group rides.