Approaching Leake Ave. in the dark, I was watching for cars entering River Road, and some buckethead came out of Leake using the wrong lane and narrowly missed an oncoming truck headed Uptown. I didn't feel safe in front of the idiot so I went around the rear side of Sno-Wizard. Crossing River Road from a dead stop on a blind curve in the dark is a little dicey, even if Randy has done it without a problem for the last fifteen years. From the base of the levee all I could see was a nest of blinky red lights beneath the silhouette of the pump tower. I couldn't really see who was at the start except I knew who wasn't -- no Triceps Dave, no Vega, no Max, no V.J., no Keith. By the time we passed the playground, there were about 20 guys rolling west with a moderate push. Just before the truck crossing I noticed Howard in the left lane drifting back, his head turning to eye each rider as they moved past him.
In the bend by the country club we met a big group coming fast with three Vega-style lights on the front and four or five pedestrians in the mix. As we slowed just below warp speed in the traffic, the young Orange kid who also wears an LSU kit, yelled at the other riders, "Watch out, this is our turf." Yes, I thought, I guess it is his turf now. He was probably in eighth grade when Donald would pull our little group to the parish line and back.
The speed didn't feel too bad until it got light enough for me to read the 27.5 on my computer. Then Howard started attacking, and I immediately started the internal debate with myself about the wide gap between my age and the first eight guys in the line, the fact that no one was there who would be turning early, the ESE headwind to be faced going home, and whether or not I actually needed this shit. As I approached the parish line the debate was won by the sane one, who argued that for many years I had gotten all the exercise I ever needed riding to the Old End. I sat up at the parish line, and as the group slowly pulled away I could see two or three guys just off the front and Rich slightly rocking on the back.