Even though I don't race anymore, I still try to get in the best shape I can with the time I have to train. So each year I try to get at least 2 organized rides in. The one of interest is the annual 4th of July 100k. It's pretty much in the middle of the summer, and where I'm at at this time of the year is probably about as good as it gets for me. So I've been typically going at this ride as a test of my legs, and historically trying to come close to 3 hours. It's funny, because going out to this ride had me excited along the same lines as pre race jitters. Anyway, night before I actually found myself doing all the prerace rituals. Pack the car up with helmet, gloves, jels, ride mixed bottles getting my ride kit out so I would be ready. Bike cleaned, tires filled. The hole deal. FUNNY... So I showed up, signed up, met up with a few old friends and decided to start out the ride with them to do a bit more catching up. Then it was off we go. About a mile into the ride, as it began to rain, we were joined by a dozen or so teammates mostly from a local 5 team or the host group. I took a pull at the front, and that was the last I seen of my friends. I pacelined with this group for a a couple miles, and after pulling up a decent hill I pulled off. I was then reprimanded by what I assume was one of their group leaders. I was told to keep the effort consistent, NOT the speed of the paceline when on climbs. I simply replied in my somewhat ticked and smart assed reply OH, OK THANKS, and proceeded to drift toward the back of the group, I bided my time until I could take off on my own which was a short time later at the quick to arrive rest stop. I kept going after a quick bottle refill break. I then proceeded to ride this event as I intended, as a test of my fitness. I rode like a rider possesed. It was like one of those epic break away stages, where the rider takes off on a solo break all the way to the finish. (It's enjoyable to live out a fantasy like this :) ) I was that rider, in pouring rain and wind the whole ride, I was inspired. I was digging deep like I used to when racing. It was great, it took focus, group after group rider after rider, mile after mile. Attacking the hills with no regard for a consistent effort, other than head down and breaking away mode. The beauty of it all, when I arrived at the finish my elapsed time was 2:59:59. I proceeded to average 21.04mph for the event. I won my stage, I came in with a time, and an average that I didn't believe I was capable of anymore. I earned my ride. 3 hours of no concern with the worrys, and frustrations of life - more so nowadays than I want deal with. It was me, the bike and the road to my own victory finish.