The other night I was cranking hard down the CCT from the bridge over 44th. I had glanced back and saw a cyclist coming up behind me, but he didn't overtake me until well after I'd reached the bottom of the hill and the long flats between that bridge and McIntyre.
The roadie passed, cranking hard as I was easing off my pedals and he kept going, though he never completely left me behind.
I almost caught him at McIntyre (the underpass on the trail is closed due to construction) and was on his back wheel when we returned to the trail just past the giant pringle cans.
I stayed right with him through no-man's land, gaining ground at each curve as he stopped pedaling and I maintained a steady cadence. I wasn't trying to draft or drop him. I was only maintaining my normal pace as I gunned for home.
And then after the final bridge before I-70 I geared down and pulled around the bare-headed roadie. I wasn't fighting the bike. I wasn't struggling to pass him and make a point. I was riding a longtail cargo bike with kid seat on the back, baggy MTBing clothes and a helmet while Mr. Roadie was in his skin tight lycra, bare shaved head and on a lightweight road bike. It must have been a blow to his ego, because instantly he whipped around me and retook the lead.
I kept my pace, not trying to overtake him again, just holding steady. I can be a long-suffering guy.
Mr. Roadie never left me in the dust. I stayed right with him, almost retaking the lead as he slacked off again. It was a fun game, but he continued on the CCT as I turned off at Tabor. I was still almost right on his rear wheel.
Ahead of me crossing 44th were two more roadies. I caught them at the frontage road after crossing I-70. Furtive, over the shoulder glances followed... They stood up on their pedals to climb the short hill from the frontage road up Tabor and I caught them again where Ridge Road begins.
The roadies would fight to get away from me and I'd overtake them again just by maintaining a solid pace. It was fun.
The spurred me on though. I did knock out an 18.2 mph average.
Today I played road warrior again. I was heading out of Golden on the CCT and a roadie passed me standing on his pedals climbing the hill along 58. I was slow cresting the hill so I assumed he'd go on and I'd never see him again, but when I reached the bridge across 44th I was gaining ground back. He didn't know it, but it was on.
I didn't push hard on the flats but without trying terribly hard I caught him at McIntyre. We both coasted across and then as we started down the frontage road, but I geared down and took off knowing if I could take the lead before we returned to the CCT he'd be hard pressed to pass me no matter how fast he cold go.
I put the spurs to the Cannonball and straightened the curves through no-man's land. I was almost to the I-70 underpass and I caught a glimpse of a shadow coming up beside me. I hammered the pedals, blasted under the interstate, around West Lake and as I was passing Tabor Lake he finally passed and regained the lead.
I lost some ground as we approached Prospect Park, but I pulled the old cut-em-off-at-the-pass and put myself right back on on his rear wheel.
Through the winding section of the trail in the woods between Prospect and the Wheat Ridge Rec Center I was right on his rear wheel. I hung the curves and got some good drafting. He pulled hard and I pushed right back.
We broke out of the trees onto the gravel parking lot and I didn't slow in the loose stuff while he did. I eased off a bit even when I could have gunned on past. He stood up on the pedals to crest the hill onto W 41st Street and kept right on cranking. I geared down and renewed my attack once we were back on the pavement. I hung right with him down the street, through the rec center parking lot, through the underpass at Kipling and on down W 41st and back onto the path heading for Anderson Park proving that even a longtail cargo bike can scream through an urban landscape.
I'd started wondering how far this guy was going to go. I was hanging right with him and we'd gone quite a few miles. At Anderson we'd been dueling it out for seven miles. Would he bail at Anderson? I had decided I was going on out to the Ralston Creek Trail and I'd return home via Grandview through Olde Town. Would he keep on going on the CCT, maybe turn on the RCT? He was pulling away as we bombed into Anderson.
Anderson was my mental turnoff, a normal place to cut my commute north toward home. But as he rocketed past the cutoff I realized it was still on. Digging really deep I thrashed the pedals soundly and pulled back up to his rear wheel. As we dipped under 44th in a ballet of precise sweeping curves I was planning my strategy for the trail ahead. My mind was mapping ahead, thinking of where I could make my move and hold the lead for the maximum amount of time. I'd wear him down. Heck! If he went on past Ralston Creek I might just see just how far we could take it. To the South Platte?
And then he threw out a left turn signal. He was leaving the trail at 46th. Sadly, he didn't even throw up a hand in salute or even give me a hearty scowl. I let him go and eased off my abused pedals.
In the long straightaway before the next bridge I adjusted my helmet, took a long pull from my water bottle and let the tension blow away behind me. I couldn't help but smile. I couldn't help but keep cranking at a slightly relaxed cadence.
I cruised to Ralston, over the bridge and up the RCT to Lamar and then over to Grandview with no major hindrances.
Grandview is always a pleasant ride and tonight was no different, except I worried about overtaking cars as the setting sun was full on in my face. Traffic was light and I rolled home in 57 minutes from work having covered just over 17 miles. Another 18mph average...the Cannonball should have been smoking when I screeched to a stop in the Bikeport.