I arrived at the ride start early enough to look at the sky some more. It was going to be all about the sky today.
There are three paces that leave from the same place at the same time: C+, B, and B+. Chris leads the B+ ride, which, he tells me, merges with the B ride most of the time. Today, he was the only leader in the parking lot. There were seven of us altogether. One was a B+ rider, three of us were Bs, and the couple on the tandem had come out for the C+ ride. Chris took us all, keeping the pace and distance down.
My plan was to hang with the group until the rest stop, then head home. If I stayed with Chris the whole way, I'd be looking at 65-70 miles. I really did not want that.
The best laid plans, blah blah blah. Chris took us due south. Somewhere below Georgetown I was off my mental map and stuck with whichever way Chris pointed next.
Al got a flat. He changed his tubular tire by the side of the road. I walked across the street to take more pictures of the sky.
Meanwhile, a disheveled, elderly woman appeared, in her robe and slippers, and began to berate the rest of the group for being on her property and making her dogs bark. She threatened to call the cops. "Go ahead!" Chris hollered. "Call the cops!" The others joined in. "You don't own this part of the road!" Al fixed his flat and we left.
A few miles later we arrived at Mr McGregor's Farm Market:
"What are you roasting?" I asked the woman behind the counter. I'm half deaf, and I never wear my hearing aids on a ride (they're too expensive to go flying off into the road, and sweat is no good for the tubes). So I misheard "ribs" as "grapes," and had to ask for clarification. "Baby back ribs," she said. The guys made hungry noises.
Today's metal to carbon ratio was favorable: Two carbons to one aluminum (the tandem, which ought to count for two frames) to two titaniums to one steel.
One of the carbon frames, a Scott, places the rear brakes under the chainstay. This is a new thing. I don't know how much of a thing it will end up being, but it's all the rage on some of the newer carbon frames.
What's wrong with the traditional rear brake position? (Geez; I need to wipe Kermit down!)
Al noticed the tree across the dirt road from the market:
I noticed the sky around it:
My legs were getting tired, the kind of tired that one feels when one stops pedaling. The only recourse is to keep pedaling. By the time I recognized the roads again, we were nearly in Chesterfield. I told Chris I was going to break off as soon as I found Old York Road. That was the same route Chris had in mind, so we all went back to the park together. Chris had, mercifully, cut a few miles from his plans.
As we left the parking lot, Chris heading south and me heading north, he asked, "Are you riding tomorrow?"
"No. I'm the designated driver to Philly tonight. I don't know when I'll be home."
For Chris, hearing "shut up" is like hearing "aloha."
At this point, all I wanted to do was to get home before the rain got me. I did, with about fifteen more miles than I'd planned. I credit the new bearings and two round wheels for my not having bonked along the way.