I try not to get too philosophical about the bike, but at some point comparing our rides to religious or meditative experiences is not that far from reality or imagination. Today was the standard ride to the flashers and back. It’s 46 miles out and back to route 58, add another 8 to the end of the line on route 50, 4 miles there and back. The wind was pretty hard out of the ENE and snow was forecasted for later in the day.
I began the day by watching the start of Milan-SanRemo. I could only find an Italian streaming version, so I listened while I prepared for the ride. It was snowing in Italy for this 300K race. How tough are these pros? I left the house in Marlin Hills to get to the Bakehouse a little early. It was 34 degrees on the readout near the square and the courthouse flag was pointing right at us. It’s a race weekend and the end of spring break so I was expecting a small group. Truth is, I wasn’t going to ride today anyway. I had actually brought a musette bag and shoved it in my pocket. I was planning on buying a bag of coffee at the Bakehouse, riding with the group to 446 and then heading home. In the back of my mind, I was thinking that I might go home and get on the moto, meeting the group on the way back and providing shelter in what was to be a significant head/crosswind coming back.
I sat at the counter and was joined by Lyle for a few minutes. We talked a lot about his AEP team and their accomplishments on the track, reviewing splits and assignments. They were doing the Nashville 90 today. “It’s about being emotionally tough. Knowing that you belong on the track with the leaders.” He would say. That takes guts. Winners don’t second guess themselves. Soon, James Calvetti arrived, then Brant Powell and Jacob Miller (BKB) came. The 4 of us headed out of town at 12:05. We met Ryan Knapp and Jon Atwell (Panther/Bakehouse), Kevin Hays (Bakehouse) and RJ Stuart (Texas Roadhouse) out near Clarizz. The eight of us loaded our weapons for the assault of 446. We turned south and I decided to stay with the group to the causeway (If I could) primarily because – how often will I be able to ride with these local stars? Also, Jon and I were talking about the moto session last night, breaking it down, critiquing its effectiveness, group size, quantifying its benefits. Ryan mentioned that elusive quality of working behind the moto, how it’s difficult to summarize, but you know it’s working. Motorpacing proves how fast you can go and identifies any weaknesses right away, all the while making you faster, tougher, quicker, impenetrable. It’s not for everyone. The view in this mirror is not always pleasing to the eye.
On the run into the causeway, Powell was my partner. When we were in the back I said to him, “If I get pinched off, go on without me.” It’s an interesting comment. One that someone who is unsure of themselves would make. It’s an unenviable position. One to be avoided at all costs as racing season approaches. Don’t sell yourself short by giving yourself a way out. No one is asking your opinion on the bike, and quite frankly, no one gives a sh*t how you feel. Toughen up and find a way to hang on. Or chase and shut up. This isn’t tennis (polite applause). At some point you need to stop apologizing for your inadequacies (on the bike) and figure out who you want to be.
I made it up to the top, thanks a bit to a pit stop over the edge by a few of the riders. I still had to chase a bit, but was able to stay connected. Once we got going again, the pace picked up and I was able to make it through the last long climb to the first flashers. While the other riders were chatting a bit up the climb, I was focused on the draft as we climbed with a sharp tempo with Knapp and Atwell on the point and Stuart and Powell ready to take over. I was in the back but made it over in the shadow of these local giants. Just over the top, on the descent, Knapp came alongside, gave a fist-bump and said, “Nice work.” I turned back at the first flashers, watching my six companions ride on. I picked up Calvetti (who had a mechanical) and the two of us rode in silence, single file back home.
I stopped at the eastside Bakehouse, picked up a bag of coffee and sat down for an hour there warming up. I chatted easily with a good friend who happened to show up, holding a conversation despite the early stages of hypothermia. When I was ready, I pulled that old musette bag out of my pocket, put the Bakehouse Intensity coffee inside, and rode the remaining 5 miles home.