A man has to know his limitations

When I came home from the ride today, some 5 ½ hours after I left, stumbling into the house like a drunk, clothes spattered in mud, my wife indicated that I had wasted another day.  Now, she’s partly right on this count as I have limited time with the family-I mean we all do I suppose-so pick your poison.  Mine just happens to be this sort of existential experience I gather being on the bike for unusually long periods.  I have a picture on a shelf in my study of the start of a late season race in 1985 in Connecticut.  It was my first Cannondale bicycle.  They were just introduced a couple of years before.  The concept of aluminum was fairly new then.  I was racing and working for them.  I took a lot of heat racing an oversized aluminum, US made bike in a sea of Colnago’s, Masi’s, Merckx and Pinarello’s.  These were not just the names of bicycles.  These were the great men of cycling.   When I was to travel to Europe a few years later to race for a season in Belgium, Cannondale’s still weren’t allowed under UCI rules.  So I had picked up an Atala frameset made out of Columbus SLX tubing.  

My Cannondale had those waterbottle cages that were velco and the bottle had a patch on it as well!  It’s a Fall afternoon with the sun at a steep angle.   I am just clipping into my cleats.  The Campagnolo track pedals had this little tab on the underside of the pedal when you scraped your shoe against it, the pedal cage elegantly flipped up and in you went. I would tighten my leather Binda toe straps in a revolution or two.   It was a hilly road race and I remember I had just gotten new shoes, they were leather Duegi’s with wooden soles.  They were wooden because you had to actually nail your cleats on to the soles.  In those days, you would ride for a day without cleats and the pedals would leave an indentation on the wood and you would align your cleat to this mark and nail it on with a hammer and tacks. I am wearing a leather hairnet in the picture, looking a bit like an old footballer-but we all did.  I still have the strap from my hairnet somewhere in the basement, the rest of it lost to sweat and crashes.  The photo captures my first pedal stroke of a long relationship with this bike.

A group of us met at Bike and Bean today for a longish ride on a warmish day.  It was in the high 40s with a Southeast wind blowing when I left my house at 10:30.  The flurry of emails this morning indicated that a group was interested in doing the Nashville 90 today.  Now, I have done the 90 before and I can tell you that it can make a strong rider call their girlfriends for a car ride long before you reach the town the ride was named for.  I’ll leave Nashville for March.  A man has to know his limitations.  But that’s the beauty of the bike.     

As usual, my kids ate all of my Clif Bars and the bread was still in the freezer so I got on the bike with just some fruit and an expired Gu I found in my race bag.  I met the group over at Bike and Bean.  Real friendly guys.  You would like them.  Tim on a LeMond and Don, the proprietor, on a nice cross bike.  Jason Urbanski and a former Turtle, Ren-jay Shei rolled up right at 11 as the bells rang at IU.  About eleven of us were there at the start and we meandered over to 446 and headed South.  Colin Allen joined us along the way.

The roads were wet and it was overcast.  The first flat occurred right on Knightridge near the 500m marker for the Wednesday Worlds (don’t try to find this as it’s just a tree that I have picked out during a reconnaissance ride!).  One of the IU riders punctured when a small shard of glass made it through the treads of an old tire.  We booted the gash with a wrapper from an oatmeal bar, all watched as he fixed the flat, then carried on.  Well, the fix didn’t take and we stopped again to correct a mile or so down the road.  We continued on and then another flat occurred on 446 out near the lake. By this time, Gary Palmer joined us (after a tough Ketcham hill workout) and a couple of riders decided to turn back (no correlation).  We just had a few miles to go to the flashers on 58 so a splinter group formed, bid Adieu to the 90 mile group in favor of a 100+K ride.  Me, Gary, Colin and Jason were joined by Kevin, Don and Tim.   We rolled along with a nice tempo and had some pretty good early season efforts up the climbs West of the lake and out by North Lawrence.  Don flatted and made quick work of getting back on the road.  By now I was hungry and cooling down.  The 4 strongest, Gary (despite his heroic pre-workout), Don, Kevin and Colin were setting the tempo up the climbs.  The other three of us were wondering when this was going to end! We got squeezed off the back on the route heading back on old 37.  Colin had enough about midway and I was able to bridge to him as we put together a shabby but successful chase that got us back in contact with the three over by the Starlite drive-in. 

Once through Clear Creek as we neared town our group slowly disbanded until it was just me and Jason left heading toward Kirkwood.  He pulled off in town and I headed back down Cascades.  I was on that same bike that I rode in that Fall race long ago.  It’s painted now, no longer black, but TDF yellow.  It still has its original steel fork.  I’ve upgraded the drivetrain over the years.  It’s still Italian, Campy Chorus, and I have a set of Ksirium wheels set up with a 10 speed cassette.  I’ve had to put a 9 speed chain on, and the shifting is a little finicky even though I still have downtube shifters.  But Italian powerplants were always that way. I shifted into the big chainring and heard the sweet sound of the chain dropping neatly onto the 53 as I headed for home.