Saturday’s epic Ride (with a small “e”)

I drove to the start of today’s ride, a bit of a luxury for me.  But the course for the team ride was south and west, had 1600 feet of climbing, there would be a headwind on the run out of town and I had taken most of the week off the bike.  So, discretion being the better part of valor, I easily slipped the bike on the rack.   They’re not really team rides, per se, more of a community ride.  I like that.  We try to keep Saturdays as more of a social ride.  Steady without being difficult.  It was good to see a wide mix of riders on an unseasonably warm day.  Several teams were represented so it was a good opportunity to share stories and connect on what would ultimately wind up being a meandering ride on a new course on some unfamiliar roads.

I parked at my office nearby and cycled over to the start at the downtown Scholars Inn Bakehouse.  I was a little early and the Bakehouse was packed with customers and a good sized queue had formed.  I walked around the counter once and back up through the tables, cleats clicking like horse shoes on the wood and tile floor, looking for familiar faces, pausing to look at the cycling pictures on the back wall.  I can’t get enough of that.  Those moments captured forever.  Moments that can’t be re-created.  Such great athletes, many of them right here in Bloomington.  I would see some of them today, without their armour.  Smiles in the place of grimaces.

It wasn’t long before Fred Rose and Jacob Read (Bakehouse) came in.  Wes Harris (Speedway) rolled up with a couple of riders from Alderfer Bergen.  Jon Atwell and Ryan Knapp arrived, in their United Healthcare and Pony Shop kits respectively.  Other riders came like kids to a park on a spring day; Hans Ibold (Joes), Kevin Hays, Austin Venhuizen, Emily Palmer, Drew Coelho, Colin Allen, Jeff Thompson (Bakehouse).

Colin gave a brief description of the course and the tempo expectations of the day.  It would have been easy to let the warm conditions dictate a harder than necessary threshold.  We’ll have that opportunity tomorrow, and I knew that a few riders today would be racing OVCX #11 in Indianapolis tomorrow as well.

We were sort of crowding the sidewalk, seen in the picture I was able to snap before we left.  In most cases you might expect passersby to be annoyed by our presence.  But this was not the case today.  People, patrons of the restaurant and visitors seemed genuinely interested in what we were about to do, like we were planning on a long voyage to a far away place.   Maybe an epic adventure that pedestrians could only marvel at.

We rode off, rag-tag at first, then quickly assembled in pairs as we would be for the rest of the 57 miles today.  One flat, a long turn on gravel roads, a stop under the Solsberry trestle, some referrals to the map and an audible or two on course corrections would make up a fairly uneventful ride; a box checked off on our training log, a twitter entry, a photo of a time now long past.   One of the riders who regularly drops me on the climbs came up to me during the ride and commented on the blog I posted last week.  It was just a report really.  A recollection of events as I saw them through my distant lens at the back of the group.   Stories that reflect on the minutiae and nuance of a sport often misunderstood, written for just a few who feel what we feel, see what we see, do what it is we do.  “It’s history,” he said.  “Thanks for taking the time to record those moments.”  I turned my head and eased the pressure on my bars , my grimace turning to a smile, “You’re welcome,” I said.