April 28, 2011 § 4 Comments
“Hit it! C’mon PeeWee you little %$!($!(%!* HIT IT!!!!!…now, now, now….doitdoitdoitdoitdoit…..”
I write this post in my head every third or tenth ride. Then I forget about it by the time I get home.
PeeWee was this kid on our cycling team, he showed up about two years behind my class. He absolutely LIVED for cycling. I mean, we had some pretty dedicated guys (KansasFuck and Crashby come to mind) and one or two with existing national reps as junior amateurs before they arrived at college. Even so, most everyone had some substantial signs of understanding that cycling wasn’t going to be a career (I count two, three if you include the independently wealthy guy). Not PeeWee. He seemed to think he was going pro….despite no evidence of talent any better than any of the rest of us journey men and women. Diet, structured workouts all the time, training logs and plans…..the works. Fancied himself a sprinter. Maybe even a track man.
It was a dreary race. Cold, wet, early season on the road. Way out on the plains with nary a tree in sight to block the wind, or driving rain. Two laps of a big rectangular course. It was the “B” race. For us no-talent wannabes. Cycling was a club sport in those days, just on the verge of having sustainable regional leagues and a national competition. Rules were loose. Road races can’t get too big so it was usually structured in breakdowns of something like 7-9 members in the A race, maybe a few extra if necessary in the B race…and we heard of conferences that went down to a C race. So anyway, we were in the B race. Everything from us USCF Cat IV-III types down through those that never rode a bike competition until college. The rules were strange though, if you are thinking Varsity / Junior Varsity structure….points were counted across all classes, including the women’s race(s) to determine the team winner of the weekend. So the B race counted….
Road races were not normally my strength. Mostly because they traditionally include a lot of hill climbing and I sucked at that…once you get dropped off the lead pack in a bike race, it is over. At the amateur and “B” level anyway. On real teams and the pros, you have dedicated duties and strategies. One guy might be the designated sprinter who is intended to try to win the race. So the team does what it can to keep that guy at the front. Even if it means waiting at the top of a hill and then burying themselves to drag his slow behind back up to the bunch.
We were not quite so organized in the collegiate Bs. Partially because half of the squad didn’t really understand teamwork. Partially because a large percentage of the team fancied themselves the finisher guy and wasn’t exactly looking to sacrifice his own chances for the team. So I don’t recall a whole lot of teamwork wins in those days. We fared okay, we had some talent even deep into our B squad. But we didn’t excel at teamwork.
But this course was flat. And it was raining. You know what a mudder is? Something about a racing horse that performs “well” on a muddy track. Under adverse conditions. Obviously not better than that horse would perform under ideal conditions, just relatively better. In pro cycling these are generally known as “Belgians”. Anyway, it was a flat course, the rain was coming down….and I found out I’m a mudder. Really, it makes no sense. I don’t like to get cold that much and back then I wore glasses to race and could barely see when it was super nasty. But for whatever reason, I was having a decent day and not getting shelled. Did I mention it was flat?
There was a crash or two on the first lap. I may have gone down or just gotten caught up in one of them. I don’t really recall. Might have been my tan-guy-in-crime who went down. That was early on, I think. We came through the first lap in good order, not too much in the way of prime shenanigans if I recall. Nobody split the group. Slight rise toward the finish line so that tends to keep things close.
I don’t remember a damn thing about the second lap until we neared the last corner of the rectangle.
The rain had been off, things had dried out a bit but I remember it was getting drippy again. The front pack was pretty decent sized and I was positioned okay. A bit too deep, maybe halfway back but at least I was on the outside. It started to string out at the front. Two, three guys across…..pace was banging. I was spinning it up and thinking about getting into better contact with the front before there was a split. If someone lets a gap open up in front of them at that pace, that close to the line you are lucky to pull it back. So I started working up the line of guys trying to stay in contention By the time we started on the long rise toward the finish (maybe 1,000 meters? 1,200?) I was in close enough contact to start thinking about the finish. Gearing up and I pull to behind..PeeWee. He’s doing his massive over-spin shit on the inside of the two abreast line. Maybe 15 back. But he’s making his move just as I get to him. Slips out into a lane somehow and I’m on his wheel….all I can think at this point is
“Hit it! C’mon PeeWee you little %$!($!(%!* HIT IT!!!!!…now, now, now, NOW….doitdoitdoitdoitdoit….NOW(%*&%!(%^&($#.”
He did. PeeWee spun it up. PeeWee’s effort must have let me nail in another two cogs, that was downtube shifter days. No gears for PeeWee, he was a spin man but he managed to pull past a few guys, maybe four…six? ..but things were really moving by then. The dudes on the front were trying to figure out what to do and the ones on their wheels were twitching, ready to sprint. PeeWee probably topped off or something, he usually did due to his gear aversion but I dunno. That’s when I touched off the boys….
It was getting close for one of my sprints. More like a proper sprint, really, well within 500m..but it was a slight slope all the way to the line and it was raining. And PeeWee gave me, accidentally no doubt, one of the best leadouts of my career. I don’t think I properly saw anything other than a free lane ahead of me and the finish line.