I had ten minutes. Ten minutes was all it took when I received the call that Edgar had sustained a vehicle flat and would not make the ride. Halfway through my ice cream, I negotiated a prorated return with the Handel's employee and threw the truck into gear. My mind was ablaze with concern; who would handle the sign-in? Who would fill the role that Windsday guru and otherwise-engaged leader Dan Riley normally handled? WHY WERE THESE PEOPLE DRIVING SO DAMN SLOW?!
I rolled into the ride start with minutes to go. I knew Dan had negotiated a Reasonably Fast B leader with John Wodarski and, hiding in amongst the growing crowd, I spotted him. The look of fear on his face was quickly erased as I power-slid perfectly into the spot next to Hubert and tossed a sign-in sheet his way. Everything would be okay now.
Quickly, but authoritatively, I scanned the talent, went to Oomer and designated him Fast & Furious ride lead. "I have a broken foot" he said, "But I'll use this stick over here and fashion a quick splint. Will 23.3 mph get it done for you?" "Absolutely," I said and darted back to prepare my own slower but more powerfully-outfitted group of beefy boys and beautiful gals for battle with the wind.
From the corner of my eye, Patti Rapp appeared with an additional sign-in sheet. "Good work!" I said and my words seemed to resonate and inspire her to work faster among the throngs, signing and passing the sheet faster and faster.
I wrapped the pre-ride with an emotional yet encouraging safety run-down and, with tears, they spirited out of the lot, bent on achieving all that I set out for them. First Oomer's rapid group of pedal-pounding elites, then John and his intermediates, then our own powerfully-built cycling specimens.
A slight tail wind, heading west, drove our groups. Onward we pressed into the countryside, driving faster, the humming of the C group interrupted only by the incessant encouragement of its leader.
Rolling into the turn, the gusting that would oppose us for the remaining journey made itself known and yet the combo that were Patti and Diane did not let up but pulled us along. Inspired, the plump among us stepped up our game, matching pedal-stroke for pedal-stroke, until the rattling of empty water bottles became our theme.
We powered back, as is the Windsday way, drank to our inspiring, reverent (And absent) leader with what was left of the water, and left the parking lot with minutes to spare before rain imparted its closing tune.
Fast & Furious: 23.3 mph
Reasonably Fast: 19.9 mph
Reasonable & Reliable: 17.9 mph