It was still dark as I stood there over my duffel bag considering what to bring for a long ride starting in the low 40s. I finally just threw my hands up and said, “hell with it, I’ll just bring everything and decide later.” “Later” would not come for over two hours because Saturday’s group ride called for a drive up to St. Francisville to sample a little bit of the infamous Rouge-Roubaix course. The first stop, though, was PJ’s Coffee at Clearview Shopping Center where I was surprised at theIt was still dark as I stood there over my duffel bag considering what to bring for a long ride starting in the low 40s. I finally just threw my hands up and said, “hell with it, I’ll just bring everything and decide later.” “Later” would not come for over two hours because Saturday’s group ride called for a drive up to St. Francisville to sample a little bit of the infamous Rouge-Roubaix course. The first stop, though, was PJ’s Coffee at Clearview Shopping Center where I was surprised at the number of riders on hand for the impromptu road trip. I drove up with Mignon and Mike, who was in town from Seattle. The temperature was in the low 40s when we finally got on the bikes up at Bains Elementary, and although I figured it would warm up a bit during the ride, I didn’t skimp on the clothes. The plan was to put in around 80 miles, including a couple of the gravel road sections of the R-R course. We probably hadn’t gone five miles before we had the first flat, which was mine. I dug a little piece of the levee bike path out of my rear tire and we were back on the road fairly quickly, but it would eventually turn out to have been just the first of five flats we’d have that day. When the group suddenly slowed down to make a turn onto the first dirt road, somebody hit somebody and Ed hit the asphalt. He wasn’t too happy about it, but he was at least relatively unharmed. Half a mile down the dirt road the pace ramped up and I looked at the computer to see 28 mph. I was hanging onto the trio Frank, Woody and Kenny as we flew down the nicely packed dirt and gravel and wondering how long I was going to be able to keep it up when we heard someone yelling from behind about another flat tire. For the first forty miles or so I think we had a flat roughly every eight miles. Anyway, we finally turned onto the R-R “2nd gravel road” with its infamous Block House Climb. This time, though, the road was really easy to ride. The gravel and dirt was pretty hard-packed and you could even get out of the saddle to climb up that long, steep hill. I guess I’ve had to walk part of that hill about 40% of the times I’ve done it, but then usually it’s in deep loose gravel. This time didn’t seem nearly as hard as usual. With all of the stops for flats and crashes and such, we ended up cutting the ride short and skipping the last R-R dirt road, reducing our mileage to only 65 for the day. Although I was a little disappointed not to have been able to ride that last dirt road, it was still a pretty hard ride and around 4:30 pm by the time I finally got back home. The plan for Sunday was to ride out with the Giro Ride group, make the turnaround, and then catch the NOBC club ride, which was starting half an hour behind the Giro, on its way out. It felt pretty cold as I rode out to Starbucks to meet the group at around 6:15. The group was on the small side, and as we rode over the two bridges Tim and Woody rode off the front before the rest of the group even noticed. I didn’t realize they were out there until we were halfway down Hayne Blvd., and by then they were essentially out of sight. The group wasn’t really going all that hard, but once we got onto Chef Highway a nice rotating double paceline formed up, so that was nice. I was behind Howard in the paceline as we shared the work into a moderate headwind. The only problem was that Howard would pull off but not slow down, forcing me to accelerate. I put up with it once or twice but eventually I just eased up and left him up there since the surges were threatening to dismantle the paceline. On the way back I found myself a bit off the front chasing with two of the guys on TT bikes. We were going pretty fast with a bit of a tailwind, and by the time I spotted the NOBC group coming the other way we’d reached the part of Chef Highway that has a median, so it took me a while to actually turn around. When I did, and that headwind hit me in the face, I figured there was no way I was going to catch them, but fortunately they had seen me and slowed down, sending a couple of riders off the back to help pace me back up. That was nice. I’d left the house without taking anything to eat, so by the time I made the turnaround at Venetian Isles, for the second time that day, I was starting to feel a little bonky, but I decided to just go with it and see how long that cup of coffee would actually take me. After a quick breakfast (well, it was more like brunch by then) at Kona I headed home with Steve who was putting in a long day and was going to pick up the levee bike path and ride all the way out to Ormond. I ended the day with sore legs and 75 miles on the computer. Shouldn’t been much of a problem to take an easy day tomorrow, I think.