I had made a
mistake...a bad mistake. It was sound logic that brought me to it, but
it was a mistake all the same. I knew that now.
through the Middletown traffic lights. My head was motionless. My
eyes didn't move in my head. Only the traffic lights and road signs
moved. My arms and legs drooped motionless, sometimes a slight
twitch to work a pedal or the steering wheel as I drove east on
Route 211. I approached the intersection by the fairgrounds near
what used to be Lloyds. I was facing an odd blue sky with swatches
of clouds that were just beginning to drain the reflected the colors
of dusk coming up behind me. The lights, cars, pedestrians, drug
deals and road signs all the way from
Maryland Avenue had
compressed into flat 2D graphics that flowed over me. Not quite in
the right order. I heard only the monotonous whine of a high pitched
disoriented and couldn't really say if I'd been there before. Of
course part of me knew I'd been there hundreds of times, but I
couldn't quite resolve it into familiarity. There was only this
strange series of disjointed and flat images, an oddly sunlit
expanse of highway that could have been Anywhere, USA.
expected to dissolve into Leary Clear Light as I reviewed the
process that had brought me there.
stopped being dropped by the rides I was going on. I used to count
on being dropped then spinning myself to a nub while trying to latch
back on. Now the rides were all becoming accessible. I was routinely
hanging on for the full ride, sometimes I would even find myself at
the front. Winning a sprint had ceased being totally uncommon. A, B,
Poker, it mattered little. That is not to say that even the Orange
County Bicycle Club's so-called Poker Rides are not without their
moments of challenge. You know the drill. Take the slowest poker in
the Club and post them at the door to your local grocery store. Now,
assuming you can stop anybody in their headlong dash toward sugar
laced fat; have the Ultra Poker casually mention what they do on
Saturday morning. I'll guarantee 9 out of 10 of the slop bucket
junkies sauntering in to pick up their fix will mouth in quivering
disbelief, "You go how far? On a BICYCLE?"
I mean, cyclists are just
superior sorts of creatures...all of them. Still the rides were
becoming doable, Saturday morning's quick little climb up Ridgebury
notwithstanding, so I was carefully led into the false logic of my
time for me to show up for a faster ride, one in which I could
reclaim my proper position as slowest rider and begin again
getting faster by riding with faster riders? That was the logic.
I'll admit to my character quirk that makes me rather to serve in
hell than rule in heaven, but it sounded reasonable at the time. Now
in the dizzying fragments of my trek home I was thoroughly dis-enjoying
the aftermath. It was impossible to move, hard to think...easier to
hear only an internal 1000 hertz test tone and let the traffic signs drift
The ride is
The Grind and it starts on Maryland Avenue in
Middletown on Tuesdays at 5:30 pm.
Legend has it
that the ride was started, maybe six years ago, by former OCBC
Paul (Peek-a-boo) Levine, aka Paul (Serotta) Latrine. It
starts where it starts because that's where Paul used to live, and
bikers' habits die hard. The location is a continuing consternation
to new riders who show up and ask, "No really, SOMEBODY has to live
"No we just
start here because this is where we start."
The ride is
probably more often called The Bicycle Doctor Ride, because
it has traditionally been organized and held together by
Rich Cruet, owner of
The Bicycle Doctor bike shop.
confuse (Doctor) Rich with
Dr. Art (chiropractor, rider
extraordinaire and regular contributor to this rag) nor, more
specifically, don't tie the nom to anything resembling a medical
degree. This is a matter of pure bicycling science and (Doctor)
Rich's credentials were earned in the college of hard rides.
So I pulled
into Maryland Avenue to find that only three other riders had shown
up for the ride. At first I was dismayed there might not be adequate
drafting opportunity to suit my taste (and keep me hanging on), then
I noticed one of the riders was, well, as they say in the parlance
of the land "gravitationally challenged." By that I mean he was a
few pounds over the approved "fast and furious climber" limit. He
looked to be subject to all sorts of gravity traps1.
However I'm glad to report that once I start down the path of false
logic, I am wont to continue to the bitter end. This guy, Rob Woods,
turns out is a major force in biking here 'bouts.
To put it in
context, when I mentioned my last Sunday ride up Eagles Nest
Rob retorted, "Oh yeah, I do that ride three times a week." Suffice
it to say that, after we started the three mile (or something)
climbs (first up Prospect Hill then Guymard Turnpike), I only once got
closer than my standard 200 yard offset, and that was when Rob and
Rich attacked the severe incline at the bridge just before
Guymard Lake. I only got
closer then because I was not yet on the severe slope. I'm never one
to shirk on the continuation of false logic, so I thought, "Oh,
good. They're sprinting. We're at the top!"
By the way,
the other rider who showed up was Frank Doty. He's only been riding
for three years, so of course on the big hills he just jumped up and
went on ahead then waited for us at the top. When Rich, Rob and I
finally bailed out of the Prospect Hill loop at Franke Road, Frank
(there's an irony) had already continued up the section that is the
analog of the infamous Kain Road, for those of you who know. He would join up with us again on the loop
It is always
nice to go out for an easy Tuesday spin with a beginner rider.
probably wondering why these people don't have club noms. When I
asked (Doctor) Rich he said, "Well they're not really club riders."
I assume that's because they disdain contact with flatlanders such
I was so lost
on that ride I had to check a map when I got home. I traced the
probable route best I could, then showed up at
The Bicycle Doctor next day to check with Rich. I showed him the map and said,
my problem was that we went back and forth across this relatively
empty area here, labeled
Rich, "There are two ridges that run down both sides...here..and
convenient. I guess you use that little ride to sell triple chain
rings and 29 tooth cogs," I slyly intoned.
In any case,
it turns out this wasn't even the regular Grind ride. It's
just one of the alternates they do when attendance is light. If the
typical crowd shows up, they avoid confusion by doing the normal
route that is, "?a little flatter, but faster."
Oh good. I
told by a very strong rider that he was once standing on his big
ring and 11 cog, sprinting all out while being dropped on the rising
rollers of the regular ride.
really hate that ride we did. In fact I hate it so much
I'm going to
have to go back every Tuesday just to make sure I never forget how
MUCH I hate it.
take my word for it. To make your own assessment call (Doctor) Rich
The Bicycle Doctor for directions: 845-344-1414.
like to bring along a designated driver for the car ride home.
to R& re: (Crazy) Mike for the "gravity trap" conceit.