A Breakthrough Ride for Debbie!
Due to a meeting later in the afternoon that I will have to ride downtown for, I opted to not go the full distance the main part of the Team was going (70+ miler).
We all met at the park, and started together. Manek, Jeff, Debbie, Katie, her friend, and I planned to do Johnson Creek. That would be about 50 miles. We figured we would stay with the Team until Tenino. Then, they would continue South and we would continue to Johnson Creek.
It was a cloudy day, but 0% chance of rain. Most everyone was on their race bikes or had at least taken off fenders. I was, of course, on Tessa. The pace out of town was fairly peppy. A bunch of us got stopped at a light. Fortunately, DJ and Trisha (on their tandem of awesomeness--really, it's DJ and Trisha who are the awesome ones) were also stopped at the light. After the light turned green, we took off. We made the turn onto Lee. DJ and Trisha were ahead by about 20 feet. They slowed down until I caught their wheel, then they pulled me back to the group that hadn't had to stop at the light. When we were near the main group, DJ and Trisha dropped back to pull the rest of the group up too (I was able to close the distance and catch up). They are amazingly good at that (as well as being extremely kind)!
I wondered if Manek, Katie, and Debbie were already dropping back but, pretty soon, Debbie pulled up beside me (Woo Hoo! Good job Debbie!). In fact, I was wildly impressed as we made the corners and Debbie flew through them and stayed with the group. She was riding nice and close to the wheel in front of her. If the guy pulled ahead a bit (like on the corners), she would jump out of the saddle and catch the wheel again! That's the way to do it!
I was paired with Bob when we got to the front of the line. I knew Debbie was right behind us. Bob and I peeled off and that put her in front with Brad. I heard her say she wouldn't stay too long. Brad said to stay just 90 seconds on the front. After their pull, they peeled off and Debbie was drifting back. I was paired with someone else now. As I saw Debbie moving back I asked the guy I was with if he could let her in (it is too difficult to keep up if you end up at the very back in all the turbulence). About that time, she asked another guy if she could get in. Of course he let her in, and she was back in a good position in the middle of the pack.
Next we had a couple of short rollers. Going up the first one, Debbie started to drop back. I came up beside her and urged her to fight it up the hill. We had a downhill on the other side. If she could just stay with the pack to the top, she could rest on the downhill. She fought (and complained) and did it! She stayed with the group!
We made the turn onto 143rd (after a sketchy incident with a dumb-ass driver who actually roared around us just as an oncoming car had almost reached us--the oncoming car had to pull to the side to avoid a head-on collision with the dumb-ass driver!). 143rd has some more rollers plus a couple little longer hills. I had a sneaking suspicion this was going to be it for Debbie. The longer hill and the pace at which the guys go up it would spit her out the back. I hung with the pack, knowing we would be splitting at Tenino anyway. I was doing pretty good on the hills. There is a part where we come down the hill, go over the train tracks, and make an uphill curve. I actually managed to fly up the hill with no problem (first time I haven't had to work like a dog to catch the group!).
DJ and Trisha came up from behind. I heard them ask if we were just going to leave "that gal" behind. I knew they were talking about Debbie, so I said I would circle back to her. As I was headed back, I saw one of the team guys coming. He signaled for me to turn back around. I did, and when he caught up to me he said to catch up to the team. Debbie would keep coming. I would circle back for her at Tenino. So I hooked on to his wheel and he pulled me along. We caught up to the team right at Tenino. They went on, and I went back for Debbie.
She wasn't that far behind, so I didn't have to go back that much. The team guy (I'm blanking on his name) had told me to tell her to unzip her rain jacket. So I did. The rain jacket is great, but it was in the mid 40s, and it's just too hot. Plus, she had a polar fleece vest on too (she didn't want to be freezing like yesterday).
We waited for awhile before we saw Manek, Katie, and her friend coming. When they got to us, they took a little break. Sergio came back. We told him we were doing Johnson Creek (we had told Brad at the beginning). He had to head back the way we had come.
Once everyone was rested and fed, we headed on over to Crowder Rd. About half way down Crowder we caught up to Jeff. He was still planning to do the shorter route. We did a single paceline, taking turns pulling on the front the rest of the way down Crowder, onto 184th to Skookumchuck, and over to Johnson Creek.
As we were going along Johnson Creek, up and down the little rollers, Jeff took off up one of the rollers. I pretended he was executing an attack and went after him. I caught up to his wheel, but we didn't really slow down. Pretty soon we were ahead of the others. We eased up a bit and talked about which races we were doing. When the others caught up, we agreed to take a break on the trail after crossing 507.
We decided to take the trail back. Jeff and I got ahead again, but that was okay. At Fir Tree, Jeff got on the road to head back to the park. I circled back to Manek, Debbie, and Katie. I told them how I like to do Form Sprints at the street crossings. Katie gave it a try.
After Rainier, when we got back on the trail, I started riding closer and closer to Debbie. She was wise to what I was doing, so I put my hand on her shoulder. Then she took her turn and put her hand on my shoulder. After a couple of wobbles, she smoothed it out and did just fine. I was proud of her, and she was proud of herself!
At the bridge, I headed for home. We all did great today, but I was especially pleased with Debbie's performance. This was truly a breakthrough ride for her skill-wise. She took to heart what we learned yesterday and put it into practice. Great job, Debbie!