We set out from his house in Sunderland under clear blue skies, with temps in the mid-30s, and the stiff, relentless March winds off the Connecticut River soon made clear what the deal was going to be. We turned off the main road and wended our way up rolling hills that only partially protected us from the gale. Fields folding upon fields, fences and old farmhouses stretching in the sun after a long, hard winter, we climbed a steady ten minutes, and were rewarded with views of humpy northern Mass, with the river peeking in and out of the picture, too.
(Wow -- heroic finish to Gent-Wevelgam!)
Down and around the hummocks we flew, a peloton of two, chattering away about tire sizes, vacation plans, and job changes. When we hit the flats, another reward: a brisk tailwind, which always makes me feel fitter and faster than I am. (Have you ever noticed how risky it is to sit up no-hands in a tailwind? The wind shifts imperceptibly, and it's like someone yanked on one side of your bars. The hands go back on real fast.)
South on Falls Road, and one more reward:
|The eponymous feature of Falls Road|
Home stretch. Rob always picks up the pace right around now, and even when early-season unfit, he's absurdly fitter than myself. I internally set a realistic goal: Just stick to his wheel up the half-mile five-percenter that leads to his driveway. Before I know it, he's getting smaller and smaller, and my thighs feel like running lava. It always ends this way; I wouldn't have it any other way.
By the time we roll up to his door, we're finally warm. The final reward? Five minutes with Rob's adorable boys, one running around playing fireman, and the other in his lovely mama's arms, giving me the heart-melting darshan like the Buddha he is.