I’ve never finished the Saturday morning A-Ride from Cyclesport. Never. Once, while Big B was out of town and I didn’t do our habitual double ride, I saw the hill in Tappan, fell back, but caught back on before Bi-State Plaza. That was the day one of the Westwood guys picked up some metal strapping in his wheel that cut his fork off, quite literally, at the legs. It’s been one of the quiet goals of mine to see the end of the ride, though, not necessarily the sprint, but to make it over the hills with the group.
Today, under the leaden skies of the impending OctSNOWberfest, I did what the Big man told me — I rode smart, I limited my time at the front, I did what I needed to.. As we came around the corner in Tappan, he tells me “Get up front, control the pace, nobody wants to pull.” So I read the red light as the opposite direction slowly turned yellow, then red, and I jumped and started my spin up the hill that has broken me for the last year and a half.
“Nobody wants to pull,” I thought to myself as two guys came around me. It was a death march for me, it’s October, we’re waiting for snow, this is it. I downshifted, hopped out of the saddle, and climbed on. Bouncing from wheel to wheel until we were over the first hump, now the slight descent. Downshift two gears, get in the drops, keep moving around behind the wheels. Second little hump, still in the drops, out of the saddle, heart beating out of my chest, ‘Don’t look down, don’t look at the computer, stay on the wheel.’ Recover on the descent to the hill at Bi-State. Deep breaths, deep breaths, downshift, spin, spin, ‘Allez, allez…’
And there was Bi-State. We turn to attack the reservoir, the sprint is inevitable. Climb the hill to the reservoir, and then — the effort got the best of me. Deep breaths turned to coughs, coughs turned to dry-heaving. I sat up, met Big B half way around the reservoir. “You’re going to KILL them next year,” he tells me. And he’s right.
I accomplished something today, something that’s been more than a year in the making — it’s been a lifetime. I’d never known I wanted this, this victorious feeling, the amazing burning in my legs and lungs that makes you feel so alive that you turn yourself inside out just to get a taste.
2:45:18, 49.26 miles, 17.9 mph avg, 199.8 lbs pre/198.0 lbs post