Pushing the pedals felt like sticking needles in my quads. With 10 miles to go, I had to just push the pace, it was the only way I could think of to heat my core up and get warm. It was probably the worst ride ever.
Today, headed out for the same ride. Clear sky, only a 10% chance of rain, but 20-30 mph winds out of the S-SW. The faster-than-me guys pegged the front of the group and we were pushing 28 or so within 10-15 miles. A tail wind is all fine and good, but with that great force pushing you along, in the back of your mind you have to remember:
"This same wind is going to kick the crap out of me on the way back."
Sure enough, I got flicked on the run back. My third or so time through the pace line, I hit the wind and blew up. I can't think of a worse feeling. One moment I'm fine, waiting for my turn at the front. The rider in front of me pulls off and the force of that wind almost knocked me back. I grit my teeth and dig in, pull through and then POP! Like a balloon. Nothing. Heart rate redlines. Leg speed drops. The rest of the group files past like I'm standing still. A couple of guys (Thanks Scott) slowed to see if I could catch their wheel, but I was fried.
Luckily, the group stops right after this section for a few moments at a gas station to refuel etc. and I caught back on. I struggled the rest of the way home, but didn't get flicked again.
It is this struggle, when I am at my limit that keeps me coming back for more. I will never be the faster person in the group. I will probably never stand on a podium. I am not a "natural athlete." What I will do is to go as fast as I can for as long as I can.
One day, horrible ride, the next day, a great ride.