The snow has melted off the roads (a few weeks ago) but for some reason, the cycling bug has not bitten me in the ass yet. I did however commit to Bertrand's group going to France this summer and leaving in a couple of weeks, my conscience tugged on what memories of chamois friction were left from last year. The weekend was forecasted to be a beaut, so I sent out a text for a Saturday morning Rico ride. Some people replied, others didn’t (they just showed up) while others reacted like they just got invited to prom and got all nervous and on the verge of peeing their panties. “Who else is going?” “Where are we meeting?” …ohhh such adolescent questions worthy of step-thru top tubes for riders in skirts...
Funny thing about cycling, but when the bike was created, a single operator was determined as adequate to operate the machine. And that is what I love about the sport (when I do it). You can ride with people or alone and in Merckx’s words “Ride fast or slow, but ride the bike.” Amen brother Eddy.
So, Saturday morning under angelic blue skies, a good group gathered. In no specific hierarchy, these were the riders: Rick, Ricky, Chris, Lanier, Noah, Tim, Xander and Haggerty. OSSSBOOORNEEE WHERE ART THOU? Deservedly you should hang your head in shame sir…
Okay, seeing that most of these guys were above my level, I did request that I set the pace up Lawson Hill. Nothing is more demoralizing than getting dropped in the first 10 minutes of the ride, and with my frail ego on the line, I thought my humble request was more than appropriate for the situation.
Roll out we do, and I get to the front, grip the piss out of my 20 year old hoods and drive the pedals like my life depended on it. The group generously stayed behind, but I could hear them chatting and laughing, all the while I was holding down the bile with all my might. Xander did pull up a few times to look at the side of my face, then dropped back to the civilized group where he belonged. Nice gesture from these men, and I very much appreciated their generosity.
After regrouping at the top of Lawson, they went their own pace and I stayed back hanging out and catching up with Noah. So it went to the top of Lizardhead, where the front group had been waiting some time. Thank you.
Well, what lay ahead was what I was so excited about. Here in the mountains we barely have the opportunity to practice a good pace line or team time trial rotations, so the section between Lizardhead and Rico is the perfect place to get the Swiss Train rolling… and we got it after a few miles of surging and falling off the back. I was riding behind Haggerty and Chris, and there was nothing more satisfying than to see these guys fluidly rotate left and almost touching elbows with the pace line coming through. Beauty in motion. The speed was high, the group pretty well synchronized and onward we rode. When you’re in this formation, about 93% of your attention is focused on the tire 2” in front of you. This made the time fly by, and eventually after one of my pulls I looked up to vaguely recognize the approach into Rico. The group was perfect, riding seamlessly and in formation; too seamlessly - that an attack seemed appropriate.
An immigrant, I grew up under the grey skies of Fargo, ND, probably because the state was trying to keep some popular vitality and what better way to do it than to open up to unassuming foreigners who consider America…. well…America. Well, I was safe from communism and in America, attending Agassiz Junior High School. It was a Thursday afternoon and I was in the locker room getting dressed for gym class in the (grey – I kid you not) uniform with the tiger logo on the breast. Agassiz Tigers! Hear us Roar! GRRRRR… I was running about 5 minutes late, and after I was all dressed in the unwashed attire I emerged into the gymnasium to something that I will never forget. With Napoleonic dignity stood Mr. Eide, a short, quick-stepped, mustachioed teacher in his mid 30’s, taking roll call. All the students were dressed in the same grey uniform and arranged in alphabetical order against the back wall. Across from them, was a row of volleyballs organized in similar array as the corresponding students. I vividly remember Mr. Eide was calling out the names McKebbin then McMahon when I walked in. Whether it was the order and conformity of the situation, or the unquestionable obedience to a grey existence, I can’t tell, but something in me revolted. I walked up to the row of volleyballs and put the mightiest boot to it. The balls flew pinballing across the gym. Teacher and students glared and without even being asked I walked out. Truthfully, I’m still lit up about the systematic breeding of social conformity. If Ayn Rand, Thoreau and Voltairine deCleyre were cyclists, they would ride like Hinault, Merckx (or our present day Sagan); defiant against team orders, sponsor expectations or placing but with heart and spirit.
And with this I will kindly step off my soapbox.
Back to the order and conformity of the pace line and the situation at hand; I was coming up behind Haggerty for my next pull, and as soon as he veered left, I went. Across the road, with my head down, pounding the pedals. The attack looked promising in my mind, but after a few strokes, the concrete in my legs hardened and I shut down. Shit! I had to laugh at the lameness of that one. Another instance I wished I could just press “Undo.” Well, I looked back (which shows fear) to see Xander calmly leading the group back the short distance to the place where I exploded. They rode past, I watched and cussed under my breath, then took another shot to catch them. This attempt was equal in lameness as the first and it held strong similarities to the scenario of getting your ass kicked, then, as your assailant walks away, you air-kick them.
To Rico we arrive and pull in to the new and improved Tamosan & Co shack. “Under New Management” or "Owners", we enjoyed cold refreshments and hung out in the sun.
I swear, Telluride (or Rico) days when they are beautiful, nothing beats them. We loitered a bit and eventually we remounted and started back. Reluctantly, we formed another pace line but as you know, riding the other way is paid back with interest. At about Barlow Creek, I pulled out of the line and resigned myself to riding the rest of the way solo. I didn’t bonk, but my legs were turning through mud. The day was too beautiful to waste my time in self-pity and although Tim and even the main group waited, I never caught up. Another one for the books.