TNR 5/13/08So what if it was windy, dark and gloomy? The hardcore InCompetition manlymen and womanly woman braved the unforgiving elements to gather for ourweekly Tuesday night bike fest. Father Mark gave us the usual uplifting peptalk in the InComp parking lot before we started, and had everyone pumped upand ready to ride...until he started blathering about how it was "dry on theground, but raining like crazy at 15,000 feet." Not to worry though, "the rain might not make it all the way to the ground." Great. At least MarkB. didn't call me a sissy for wearing knickers last night like he did twoweeks ago.. Positive that I'd be soaking wet and hypothermic by the time we got backfrom our ride, we all took off together to face the hardships that surelylay ahead. Roy and Jeff M. took the lead on the way out of town and kept usin line until Luxemburg Road, where Ryan and Jeff took over the job ofhauling the rest of us east, in a 25 mph side wind from the south. Thegusts were moving us around sideways and it felt like I was riding with discwheels. After a few miles Ryan tried to drop back and let someone else takea turn up front, but we fooled him and we all stayed in a perfect linebehind his wheel. He said we were picking on him, but I told him he was ingood company because we did the same thing to Dave Kay last week. I wonderif that's why Dave wasn't there last night? Anyway, Ryan was a good sportand stayed up front.I'm not sure about the rest of the group, but my blood pumper went to racepace and stayed that way for most of the rest of the ride. Jeff and Ryandidn't seem to be having any trouble though; they were merrily havingcrumpets and tea upfront while pulling the rest of us along, catching up onthe latest gossip from the society pages and discussing what they would wearto the next ball. Jenny M. was trying to make conversation on my left, butpretty much all I could do at that point was nod or shake my head to answerher. I wasn't thinking too straight right about then, but I remember hersaying something about getting ready for the Ironman and training for ridingthe 110 miles bike part of the race. Right about then it didn't sound toappealing to me. I kept looking for Carl, Sue and their tandem, but he washiding way over on the left and gave us no opportunity at all to suck theirwheel. Slacker.Going north on Mercier was Heaven as we had the wind at our back pushing usforward instead of trying to knock us down. Carl took a flyer and stayedaway until Nicollet. We also lost Ryan and some of the UW Green Bay guys,including Mr. Grand Performance. These guys were my ace-in-the-hole comingfor back along Nicollet into a quartering headwind. With them gone mylifeline was now Jeff, Mark B. Roy and Ironwoman (Jenny). We caught Carl & Sue just past Bay Shore Park and then somebody had thebright idea of turning toward the Bay off Nicollet and onto Ledgewood (?)to "get out of the wind." At this point I was just looking at the wheel infront and trying to hide in the gale, which we still had down by the Bay.Mark went out in front and pretty much stayed there for the rest of theride. Just before we popped back on to Nicollet we saw Karl & Sue go bylike they'd just jacked the local candy store. We chased and finally caughtthem. Moving south on Nicollet with Mark in front on the left, we had a perfectechelon going. Jeff was just right and back from Mark, Roy was next, thenme and then Jennifer. Bringing up the Lantern Rouge was Carl. I noticedJennifer wasn't getting the best draft and I gave up my spot to her andworked my way back behind the tandem, becoming the new Lantern Rouge. I'mthat kind of guy.It was much nicer following a freight train instead of a greyhound andpretty soon the blood got back into my brain and I started to haveconsistent conscious thought again. The first thing I noticed was that mylegs really hurt. My heart rate was coming down, though, and things werelooking up. The group was working very well together - exceedingly so - as we all heldour perfect positions in the line, and let Mark haul us toward Green Bay. Iwas starting to smirk a little as the feeling was now coming back to all ofmy extremities, and I was even thinking about taking a pull myself as weentered the InComp parking lot when Mark stepped up the pace. Carlstruggled to stay with the wheel he was following and I encouraged him witha smattering of name calling and four letter words when he finally just satup. My new lifeline was 50 yards up the road and rapidly receding. I jumpedaround the tandem and put my head down into the wind. After what seemed tobe eternity I caught Jenny's wheel about two miles north of Tillman's. Bythis time my heart was rat-a-tatting like snare drum, and I must havestarted hallucinating because it didn't look like any of the other riders inthe group were struggling at all. They seemed to be putting out less effortthan a Sunday morning ride with your preschool children. I popped a quarter mile from Tillman's and limped the rest of the way backin, wondering where was Jules when I needed him. Back in the parking lot Irode over to Mark B., who had showered and changed by then, and mentionedthat he rode pretty strong tonight. He smiled and told me, and I'llparaphrase, "that last week sucked, but the EPO kicked in this week and Ifelt good." His exact words were more like "last week sucked, but I didn'tfeel like I was working at all tonight."We didn't get wet, we didn't suffer from hypothermia, and there was nolasting damage, so it was another successful TNR.