No Draft for the Wheelsuckers

After a couple of warmish days, this morning’s 40-something temperature felt positively cold as I rolled out in the dark to meet the 6:15 levee ride.  It wouldn’t have been so bad were it not for the strong north wind that had brought in the cooler air.  There were just a few riders waiting when I arrived, but by the time we got to the playground the group numbered somewhere around twenty. I’d started out at the front and soon found myself alone as the group slowed down here and there to pick upAfter a couple of warmish days, this morning’s 40-something temperature felt positively cold as I rolled out in the dark to meet the 6:15 levee ride.  It wouldn’t have been so bad were it not for the strong north wind that had brought in the cooler air.  There were just a few riders waiting when I arrived, but by the time we got to the playground the group numbered somewhere around twenty. I’d started out at the front and soon found myself alone as the group slowed down here and there to pick up various additional riders.  By the time they finally got organized I was starting to feel the effects of the increasing wind and knew it was going to be a difficult ride.  A strong north wind and a big group means just one thing on the levee bike path — there would be no draft for the wheelsuckers like me today.  As Erich once said about crosswind rides, there’s just a table for four on the levee. Dropping all the way back to the end of the long string of riders I soon found myself fighting for the last three inches of asphalt in a nearly futile effort to salvage just a sliver of draft.  As the followed the bends in the river the wind constantly shifted from crosswind to headwind.  Somewhere up ahead of me the paceline had been short-circuited.  Nobody was dropping back to where I was and unless I wanted to get out into the wind and force my way into the rotation I was kind of stuck where I was. I wasn’t really in a fighting mood, and besides, I figured I’d get a good enough workout anyway, under the circumstances.  Then, at the dip, there was a flat, so a few of us stopped to assist, eventually meeting the group on its way back.  Unfortunately, the return trip wasn’t much better that the outgoing one, and by the time I got home with forty-something miles on the odometer I wasn’t feeling particularly short-changed in the workout department anyway.  At one point I pulled my camera out of my pocket, then had to battle my way back up the group. I rode there at the end of the paceline, three inches from the edge of the path, holding my camera and losing ground before I finally decided that the cost of taking a picture would be a very long ride home alone, so I shoved it all back into my jersey, almost getting dropped in the process.  There’s this one long stretch just upriver of the parish line where a north wind results in a mile or so of direct crosswind.  The group often splits there, and indeed it did so today.  I was near the back and didn’t notice the gap opening until Pat looked back and said something.  He then proceeded to pull me all the way across the gap. So The Daughter is in for Christmas along with her two little dogs, Odin and Echo. Since I couldn’t take any photos while riding, I guess the one up at the top will have to do for today.  I expect we’ll have a pretty good group up on the levee tomorrow, maybe at 7 am instead of the usual 6:40?

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