Wednesday Worlds holds a unique place in the cycling psyche of Bloomington. I had left work just a bit early to get prepared for the event. It was the 446 and Knightridge loop, always a large draw, and this was a perfect Wednesday as well for this important training race. Sunny and warm, with finals well in hand at the University. Many of the young riders already making plans for work over the summer.
I had attended a visitation for a Bloomington man earlier in the day who had recently died. He was a friend of the organization that I work for. He was a hard working man all of his life. The kind of man that just rolls up his sleeves and gets done what needs to get done. A great man. I didn’t know his family well but had a chance to chat with them at the service. “He helped a hundred kids in my program.” I remember saying. His wife said, “I had no idea.” I thanked her, shared my condolences and then sat in the back of the visitation are just watching and listening to, and impressed by the conversations around me about the man. He was loved and respected with a level of depth that was unprecedented. His family and friends all around. Beautiful really.
I thought about this today as I left the house and rode easily to the start. What will be our legacy? What will our family and friends say about us when we’re gone? What are they saying now? I stopped in the bike shop on the way over and said, “Hello” to the boys working there. A few would be joining us tonight. It was another impressive field. Several of the area’s top riders and a few who will be soon were there. Scholars Inn Bakehouse was represented by Thomas Walsh, Fred Rose, Ryan Shanahan, Ren-Jay Shei, Phil Sojka, Jon Purvis, Brian Depasse, Andy Leutegen, James Rosati, Liz Cobb, Zach Osterman, Lyle Feigenbaum and Cameron Johns and me. Upland had a few riders as well including Chris Kroll, Andy Messer, Tim Nixon, Sam Harbison. Graham Dewart and Kevin Depasse from Nuvo were there. Karin Abdelkader from Mob and Tom Cox from Alderfer Riley showed up. RJ Stuart from Texas Roadhouse was there. Also, Shane Slavin (unattached), Chris Arvin (DRT) Hans Ibold (Brooks Training), Austin Venhuizen (Motion), Wes Harris (Speedway) Jacob Miller (BKB) came to race. I only didn’t recognize a few riders. I knew that it was going to be a fast night.
There was some talk of doing seven laps, but we really just don’t have that sort of daylight yet. It’s still a few miles out and back so we decided on 6 laps as per the usual. I had brought an old musette bag with me and stuffed it with 4 bags of granola from our benefactor at the Bakehouse. Originally, two bags were for the men’s halfway and winner and two were for the women. But only one woman was in attendance, so we defaulted to a midway prime and a bag for first, second and third overall! Winter has not been kind to these semi-rural roads south east of town. Pot holes were as abundant as morels in the wetland fringes today. But easier for a wheel to find than the elusive fungi and as expensive per pound if your fate was to flat. We saw several on the roadsides today, fixing pinched tires. One pot hole also contributed to a crash on the second lap. We were still mostly together and moving fast on 446 heading north. It was just before the crest of the second climb that we heard that familiar and dreaded sound behind us of metal on pavement. The group was more or less single file as our speeds were in the high 20s in this section. Some of us were desperate to find a wheel before the turn. When we heard the crash, those of us positioned closer to the back at that time, me, Sojka, Johns, Osterman, Leutegen, Feigenbaum turned back for the fallen comrade, lying spread-out on the shoulder of the road. We quickly got him up, nothing broken, some cuts and abrasions, bike in working order. Leutegen kindly offered to ride with him back to town while the rest of us cycled around the course, waiting to be ‘picked up’ by the peloton.
We weren’t disappointed when the speeding group made contact on the backside. There’s an unwritten rule in cycling that’s often heeded, that is, lapped riders generally refrain from participating in actions or maneuvers that would be part and parcel of a winning move or the final sprint, etc. Not that anyone would really care, but it’s just good manners. I was more than happy to sit on the back of this train and watch the proceedings unfold as the teams took turns setting up a rider, attacking or countering. I missed the prime lap, but Kevin Depasse won that I heard from Cox when I rejoined. The finale was the usual parry and bluff until the end with all the principals in attendance. In the end it was K. Depasse, RJ Stuart and Abdelkader getting the top three spots with lots of company to go around. Karim, having joined 1/2 lap into the event, kindly suggested that we give his bag of granola to a worthy rider. We selected Liz Cobb as being the most aggressive woman of the day.
So as we headed home towards the setting sun and back to our normal lives it occurred to me that the men and women of these Wednesday Worlds are our legacy. This is our contribution. To do something so well and with such passion as to be able to be in the company of these great men and women on our bicycles is a gift. One that we shouldn’t take for granted as long as we can turn the pedals.