If you don’t know already, most of the Gravel Cyclist Crew reside in Gainesville, Florida – the exception being Rusty – aka The Headmaster, who lives in nearby Ocala, Florida. Because our winters are not really winters – no snow, no ice and just the once-in-a-while night where the temperatures fall into the 20’s Fahrenheit / -5 Celcius – we ride year round.
A Brief History Lesson
Once upon a time, we used to ride a one-mile loop of a business park aboard road bikes at nighttime – all winter long. It was a boring and tedious existence, but it was better than being stuck indoors. Then, we discovered the local dirt and gravel roads – and the rest is history…
At the yearly cessation of Daylight Savings Time, we take to the dirt and gravel roads and ride every Tuesday and Thursday night – one of three routes, forwards or backwards, to keep it interesting. The month of November is reserved for riding mellow. This doesn’t always happen but generally, everyone behaves themselves with no attacking on the dirt and gravel sectors.
Our general rule of thumb is – attack and ride hard on the dirt and gravel sectors and regroup at the end.
From December to Daylight Savings Time marks the commencement of the “Wintervals”. Tuesday evening is known as the “Worlds” ride and typically a longer route is ridden. Anything goes on the dirt sectors – attacking, sandbagging, counter-attacking and general fun. Thursday evening’s route is shorter, usually at a slower pace than Tuesday.
Tuesday, December 8, 2015
This Tuesday was special and marked the return of Gravel Cyclist’s Dr. Pain. His identity is a mystery, but for the past several weeks, he’s been wearing a cast around his right thumb and wrist, courtesy of the crash in this video. Dr. Pain hates riding the indoor training and consequently had built up a major case of Trainer Rage.
Trainer Rage – The rage that builds inside one’s psyche – the result of being stuck riding a bicycle on an indoor trainer for hours on end, usually against your will. There are some people who love riding indoor trainers, but that’s another story.
Moving along… once Dr. Pain announced his return over email to the crew, much discussion went back and forth about what would happen on his return ride. Would he be attacked? Would he sandbag? How would his form be?
At the ride start, the seven or eight attendees agreed unanimously to ride the medium route – backwards – and not go too hard, as a few in attendance had raced at last weekend’s Swamp Cross.
Dirt & Gravel Sector 1
The pace was stiff but not unbearable, mostly hard tempo with a mild separation of bodies on the one short hill during the sector.
Dirt & Gravel Sector 2
Known as the “Aircraft Landing Strip” sector because of its length, lack of elevation and nearly straight course, was very active. Pfaff Daddy aka Scott, set another hard tempo on the sector. JOM, keen to test his legs, decided to attack and quickly got a short-lived gap with the company of 14yo up-and-comer, Bryce. The break was quickly brought back and another attack went immediately. This one lasted as long as the first, but JOM thought it was a good idea to attack again – this time seated – because it is a well known fact that a seated attack isn’t really an attack.
Once again, JOM’s attack was ill-fated. Having drawn the ire of Dr. Pain for starting this most unpleasant set of accelerations, JOM was counterattacked by him and felt the stinging pain of Dr. Pain’s trainer rage. Much of the group were chewing stems, or looking at the LED-lit arse of the rider ahead as they scrambled for Dr. Pain’s wheel. Thankfully, Dr. Pain’s attack was short-lived, but he proved a point – he was back!
At the end of Dirt Sector 2 (in this direction) is Pinky’s Place – a nightclub establishment that mostly seems to be closed. Ominous signs at the front of the property clearly state – No: Drug Use – No: Drug Sales – No: Fighting – No: Loud Music – No: Weapons – No: Loitering at all.
This establishment is a local Gravel Cyclist landmark, so we took the opportunity to loiter for a minute and take a photo or two. Typically we initiate the newbies on these rides by having them pose for a photo. Click HERE to read about K-Dogg’s December 2014 meeting with Big Pink – The Hound of Pinky’s Place.
Dirt & Gravel Sector 3
This is a tough sector, with several draggy hills and a few sandy spots that are guaranteed to make you flounder and suck your power. However, the shenanigans came to a halt quickly when Jimbo punctured a front tire (tyre). In typical fashion, one bloke helps, while everyone else stands around offering useless advice. JOM took photos.
After Jimbo’s flat tyre was fixed, the group slowly rolled along for a minute as Nature Boy checked to make sure everyone was present – then attacked. How rude! The group was strung out with Pfaff Daddy chasing in no man’s land, followed closely by K-Dogg, Dr. Pain, JOM… and everyone else not far behind. Dr. Pain and JOM were smart – they left K-Dogg on the front to do ALL of the chase to the now leading duo, before jacking the pace hard over the top of him once the catch was made. More rudeness.
The remainder of the sector was punctuated with multiple counter-attacks, everyone of them going nowhere.
Dirt & Gravel Sector 4
Everyone had chilled out a little, leaving JOM to set tempo on the front. All was well until Mark on the MTB – we don’t have a nickname for him yet – that will change – decided to bump the tempo up a couple of m/hr. Mark has been nursing a cold recently, so this wasn’t a good idea. Mark soon faltered, and another series of attacks on the sector’s long uphill to its end saw Nature Boy and Dr. Pain blow up, with K-Dogg taking the summit and JOM close behind (ridden off K-Dogg’s wheel).
Dirt & Gravel Sector 5 – The Finale
With everyone’s legs now stinging, the attacks on this sector happened towards the end – think a sprint for the end of the sector and you get the idea.
In all, a fantastic ride with Dr. Pain making the following statement post ride – “I had a blast tonight. It felt like Christmas.” Welcome back!
Thursday, December 10, 2015
The usual afternoon email circulated among the Gravel Cyclist regulars, citing this ride to be the short route and “civilized”. Civilized usually means no attacks – and as alluded to earlier, staying seated and going hard isn’t an attack – right?
Friend of the Gravel Cyclist crew, Pauline, was one of seven attendees on this evening’s ride. Pauline is relatively new to the ways of the dirt and gravel, but has a lot of mountain bike and road experience, putting her in good stead for the night’s proceedings.
Dirt & Gravel Sector 1
Cue Pfaff Daddy aka Scott setting hard tempo most of the sector. A few people felt their legs sting.
Dirt & Gravel Sector 3
Plenty of hard tempo riding the entire way. Sort of civilized riding, but not quite.
Pauline has ridden with us several times, but had never been inaugurated into the Pinky’s Place photo archive. JOM took care of that.
Dirt & Gravel Sector 4 – The Finale
Not much happened. Everyone was civilized.
Back to the Parking Lot
Steady tempo most of the way, interspersed with conversation and such. The speed was bumped up just prior to the terminus of the ride, when we-don’t-know-who thought it was a good idea to conduct a sprint – for some imaginary point along the road. The win was taken by Dr. Pain when he got ahead of everyone and lifted his arms in victory – he’s back – again!
A somewhat “civilized” ride with no attacks.
Thanks for reading!