American Road Cycling

[ Home | Rides | Chatter Box | Comics | About | Fees | Join | Members | FAQContact | Dedication ]   


Classic Version | Safari Reader Friendly

Article #9
Puke Now or Forever Hold Your Peace

- SlingShot

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 Dapper Dan.

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 shoulder, "Wouldn?t 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 to bridge thinking, "This is lunacy, but it's puke now or forever hold your peace."

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, "I 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, pull off."

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 catch up.

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 Dapper's wheel.

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 your peace."

I was still there at the top.

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 and Mac.

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 matter.

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 he moves?"

Mac shifted and was six inches in front of me. "Yeah right, this WILL NOT STAND" said The Dude in my head and I shifted.

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 chase indeed!"

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 happened?"

"It's too cold. Jimi doesn't like to sweat!"

Everybody groan and throw your hands in the air.



Classic Version | Safari Reader Friendly


this page last updated:
02/01/2015 11:18:05 PM

A Def Unc T Publication