It's late December
2001. Even though there's been week after week of "last good ride
till winter," Saturday morning is finally cold. Very cold.
Still Mac Attack has
unzipped his jacket, and it's snapping in the frigid wind. As he
hunches beside me preparing for the finish, his front wheel is just
six inches behind my own.
I'm thinking, "Not
today Mac! I didn't get all the way here, the end of The Hump, with
only one rider in front of us, just for you to take me in the last
200 yards. The rest of the A's haven't even been seen for the last
hour. This isn't your day, Mac. It's mine. It's puke now or forever
hold your peace.?
As I waited for
Mac's Attack, I reviewed the ride and how I'd gotten here.
I remembered it was
immediately after the ride had left the Big V parking lot that I
noticed the A's seemed to be holding back. However I've learned not
to buy into that stance, so I moved to the front but stayed behind
the first two riders. It was me, Fuji Steve (pronounced Fudgie) and
Hmm...Dapper Dan. It's
a subtle amount that gives Dan his dapper?almost imperceptible, but
precise. Just a slight professorial manner that belies his careful
attention to the "details of ride," the details that have kept him
up front for the last year or so?since he joined OCBC.
I knew Dapper was
going to be there at the end, that he could be gone in an instant
and was no target for me. So when he moved up to take his turn
pulling, with me just behind, I found it easy to follow Fuji's
glance backward and note the group was already almost a soccer
field's length behind.
I pulled off and dropped into Fuji's draft.
The group wasn't going to be staying back there for long.
I had to
survive the hill at Cross Road in order to try out my newest theory
on the long Ridgebury climb. Dapper didn't seem to notice that Fuji
and I had held up. He moved off alone.
With Fuji in front
of me and holding off the frigid air, I felt confident I could hang
in and ready myself for Ridgebury.
A few miles later my
fingers were burning from the cold when Fuji spoke over his
you like to take the front for awhile?"
"Not really," I
said, "You've been pulling soo... good.?
I was fully aware we
had just reached that quarter-mile slight upgrade that portends the
sharp and painful hill before Cross Road.
I can't count the
times I've pulled on that approach only to be hammered into paste on
the first real hill. However I wouldn't even be here if Fuji hadn't
pulled, so it was my knuckle headed sense of duty that made me move
around Fuj' and take over the wind.
I looked back and
the group was still way behind. With a little luck I might survive
the first climb.
As we hit the bottom
of the hill the group was on us. I grimaced and pushed. At the top
only a few riders had gotten in front of me. A large part of the
group was still behind. Dapper was already far ahead and out of sight.
The pace broke as
everybody re-grouped. I relaxed briefly and grabbed a drink but
immediately saw (not Dapper but) Dangerous Dan and Mac Attack moving
off the front to get a start on the next hill.
I was momentarily
torn between finding a good drafting opportunity and trying to
bridge the gap to Dangerous and Mac but decided to push on in order
thinking, "This is lunacy, but it's puke now or forever hold your
I caught them and
was barely holding on at the base of Ridgbury. Over my shoulder the
main group was, by then, out of sight. I questioned myself,
"Whatever made me think it would be a GOOD idea to be here with Mac
and Dangerous at the bottom of Ridgebury? Maybe I should wait for
the group. There's a lot of people back there I rarely get to ride
with. Why not take it easy? What would be the harm?
I heard Dangerous
ask, "Who's that up ahead?"
Thinking I should
say, "It's nobody, just that mail box near the top," I instead muttered,
think it's Dan."
The chase was on.
I can't even guess
how I was still alive at the top of Ridgebury. The rest of the A's
were lost behind while Dapper Dan was drifting out of sight in
front. Mac and Dangerous were grinding me a new seat post.
Actually, I do know
how I survived.
Mac and Dangerous
were waiting for me. Dangerous took over and moderated the pace. "Don't surge."
"Take it easy, stay closer as Mac passes."
"Short pulls. Mac,
I've never been in a
good pace line unless somebody took over and kept it together like
that. I knew this was one of those special moments.
Whenever I found
myself back more than ten feet, all of a sudden it would be easy to
I'm not so bright, but I'm not an idiot either. I know
when I'm being baby sat. Dangerous was focused on getting us on
Mac just seemed happy to be having an easy day. I
was the weak link, but nothing could be done about it. They were
taking care of me.
Time after time I
promised myself, "Just one more pull?then I'm done."
I was shocked
to find myself still in the ride coming up to the double hill on
Lower Road called Dog Hill because of the dog that
often ran out.
I thought, "Man, I don't
get to be here with other riders often. Puke now or forever hold
I was still there at the
After that it was
"just one more pull" after another, all the way back to Round Hill
for the final flat and the sprint.
All the while Dapper Dan dangled
in the distance, just out of reach, often out of sight.
Near the end
Dangerous dropped off saying, "If he's still out there this close,
he deserves it. I'm just spinning in. You guys go on."
So it was just me
I pulled for a gruesome mile or so then Mac moved up to my
side. Even though I owed being there to Mac and Dangerous, it didn't
When Mac moved to take his pull, I decided it was time for
the teamwork to end. This opportunity wasn't coming around again any
time soon. Holding my six inch lead was body language enough for Mac
to get the point.
I listened to his
flapping jacket. That parachute would definitely give me an edge. "He's been fighting that tugging sail for the last six miles. He
ain't gettin' in front again. Mac and Dangerous got me here, but now
Mac is going to have to deal with it. When he moves: I've got him!"
I tried to relax,
not go too soon.
We were fast approaching Jimi's
white line. I was thinking, "It's puke now or forever hold your peace. As soon as
Mac shifted and was
six inches in front of me. "Yeah right, this WILL NOT STAND" said
The Dude in my head and I
Mac was a half
length ahead. I bore down?all out. Mac was a full length, then one
and a half, then two, three, four lengths ahead. My legs screamed.
It was over. I watched the white line slide beneath my wheels.
Back in the Big V
parking lot we are watching it dawn on Dapper that the downside of
coming in at the front is there's nobody there to notice. We
reassure him how nobody ever need know the truth, and we will be sure to tell everybody
how he finished way
behind us (we smile, he grunts).
Still his eyes sparkle
with the thought of how strong he felt coming back from Pine Island.
How nobody came close to catching him.
Mac quips, "A merry
Fuji pulls up and I
ask him where everybody is.
He says, "They're about a quarter mile
back. It got so bad I had to wait for them three times!"
"No way! What
"It's too cold. Jimi
doesn't like to sweat!"
Everybody groan and
throw your hands in the air.