There were quite a few riders that met at the BK, with a good mix of intermediate and beginners. We all started together, but the pace was moving a little slow for me. Within a few miles of the start, I saw another rider about 1/2 mile ahead of us, so I broke from the group and sprinted to try to catch the distant rider. I caught him, and it was Sal, one of the stronger triathletes / time trialers in the area. We talked for awhile, moving along at 18-19 mph. As we turned onto Military Highway towards Progreso, we cranked it up to the 20-21 mph range. We were moving into a slight headwind, and these speeds felt very near my maximum. We swapped pulls, but Sal did more than his share.
Once we reached Progreso, I fueled up with Nuun and a package of Grandma's Chocolate Chip Cookies, and Sal turned north. I waited on the group, and 5 minutes later they made it to Progreso. I grouped up with 2 of the stronger riders, and we headed west on Military. With the tailwind, we were averaging 21-22 mph, and I was feeling much better than I did on the way out.
I decided to vary my route and head for home instead of back to BK, but the other 2 riders turned off to head back to BK. I was alone, but riding a route that I've ridden many times. A few miles later, I felt a lot of movement in my shoe or pedal. I stopped, and saw that my left cleat was almost detached from the shoe. I had to stop for 15 minutes, disassemble the cleat, and retighten. I think that my cleats loosened up this week while doing some out of the saddle climbing in Austin, although it could have been a gradual build-up that I just didn't notice.
When I started pedaling again, my quads were very stiff. I warmed back up, and struggled home, grateful for the tailwind. I finished with 66 miles, with an average of 18 mph. Today's lessons learned are: maintain my Speedplay cleats a little better, challenge myself by riding solo or in smaller groups more, and don't give up on the Jalapeno. There's always next year.
And if you're a data-driven reader, here's the link to the ride stats, and I've inserted a screen grab of the summary for those that don't like to click through to other sites.