Last night was the perfect storm for having weird dreams, which I usually forget the instant I wake up. This time though a hard ride yesterday followed by late night movies lead to a memorable night's sleep.
A group of us headed out for a tour of the scenic and historic Blackstone Valley for the second edition of a ride I call de Ronde von Blackstone Valley. It's a tribute to the greatest of the spring classics, the Tour of Flanders, but in name and calendar situation only. My event is around 50 miles with rolling terrain and well maintained roads, while Flanders features 17 cobblestone covered climbs and regular carnage.
The radar was ominous so we headed out expecting the worst, but we got nary a sprinkling all day. The only consistent weather phenomenon we were dealing with was the incredibly gusty wind which had us riding pitched over off camber more than once. Brant and Colin set a pretty high pace early on, something just at the limit of conversational. We hit our first longer climb about 18 miles in, and there was a lot of spinning. The difference between being in front and in back was huge: out of the wind you were thinking "man this pace is slow" but at the front it was all business.
Unlike last year, Colin wasn't bitching about not having any miles in his legs, but he was clearly reserving the right to qualify his performance based on the fact that he was riding his cross bike which was equipped with, amongst other things, wide handlebars, a 46 tooth big ring, and anti-aero cantilever brakes. Kenny was concerned about the length of the ride, so he spent a good deal of time sitting in, as did Tom.
We only contested one town line, I hit 1300 watts at the outset of that effort and held Colin off for the win. The last 15 miles of our ride featured 3 serious climbs, including the road up through Purgatory Chasm State Park and the infamous Sutton Dip. Despite very little riding this spring, Kenny hung tough up Purgatory but he joined Tom off the back on the dip. The multiple difficult climbs at the end of a hard ride cracked all of us, but not enough to stop some shenanigans coming home along Manchaug Lake Rd. I attacked the group with 2k to go and only Brant responded, and we got an instant gap. When he took the front I stood to get into his draft and cramped. I was done.
Check the map below as well as the power graph... notice the spikes towards the end? Reindeer games...
Apres ride we had some homemade lasagna and bread, sampled tasty Long Trail beers and chatted about our 2009 plans. While everyone has a different focus for the beginning and middle part of the season, we'll all be gearing up for cyclocross soon enough.
The kids were away so I stayed up late looking for a decent movie to watch and found Braveheart. I got hooked in until midnight, and went to bed exhausted.
I started to dream about being at University. I often dream about school, but never good stuff like beer die, single women and Sega NHL 93. Usually I'm panicked about some assignment or class that I have completely lost track of and am about to fail. This was the case last night, but three hours of Braveheart put some serious english on the topic of my dream.
I realized that a poetry class I was taking was giving the final in 5 minutes and I hadn't been to class in months. I made it to class in time, to find everyone dressed like Robert the Bruce. The professor was a big fan of the middle ages, and apparently our assignment was to deliver a poem to the class that reflected on the reality of life during the Wars of Scottish Independence.
Soon enough I was standing in a foggy field listening to my classmates participate in a bizarre poetry jam, emulating the kooks you see at Renaissance Fairs complete with smelly clothes and horse swords. The handful of people willing to volunteer for the humiliation of this final exam had completed their poems and the professor started to scan the rest of the class for the next victim. Of course I was next, and as he pointed to me a teacher's aid approached from behind to guide me out to the presentation area. "The smell of lime" she whispered in my ear.
Two things to note here. Much like Princess Isabella did for William Wallace in the movie, this fair maiden/teacher's aid was trying to help me survive the day. Strange I would bring that into the dream but stranger still may be that I knew in an instant that lime was an important component of burying dead at that time in history.
I was about to ace my final.
I took a knee, stuck my sword into the mossy earth, and slowly looked up at the class.
"After the battle, the smell of lime, we miss our friends"
The professor, who apparently had no idea that I had missed most of the semester, was tearing up and applauding with long, slow claps: medieval style. I realize I'm making a lot of assumptions about what life in England was like in the middle centuries, but I've seen Braveheart and the freecreditreport.com commercial enough to consider myself something of an expert.
Whoops... the Tour of Flanders is on TV... gotta go.