One of my friends got onto me that my blog was all about work. He wanted to read stories about some of my cycling adventures. Rather than launch into stories about riding across America, I’ll start with some stories from my distant past.
Every city has that one ride that is the crazy all out sprint for the roses and kisses. In Auburn it is the Wednesday Night Worlds. When I was in Los Angeles it was the Pier ride, in San Antonio it was the Helotes Loop, in Omaha it was the Wednesday night Train Track ride, and in Montgomery it was the Thursday night Emerald Mountain ride.
Out in LA they meet at the piers. When I got to LA I went to Helen’s Cycles and asked where the club rides met. The guys told me, “The pro-1-2s meet at pier X, the 3s meet at Y and the 4s at Z.” So I showed up at X, hey I wanted to go to nationals that year, why would I ride with the 3s? There were maybe 25 of us and we headed down the beach bike path, at each intersection we would pick up a different group. By the time we made it to the city streets there had to be 150 riders in the peloton. It was so big that when the front half made it through the light the rest of the peloton made it too, even if by that time the light was red. I was working in the front and when it was my turn to pull I looked at the guy behind me and said, “I don’t know where I’m going.” He replied, “Don’t worry I’ll tell you where to turn.” About that time I got in behind some little red hatchback, must have been a Yugo, there were 150 riders behind me and I was drafting that Yugo at 30mph praying he didn’t put on his breaks. I stayed with that little Yugo until I pulled off the front.
The LA ride ends in a sprint somewhere over by the airport and it was crazy fast. There were about 10 of us contesting the sprint, guys would pull and when they were done would immediately get shelled, and it was my turn to pull again. So I gave it everything I had and all of a sudden it was like I had on the breaks. Guys were coming around me left and right. Somebody won the sprint and I asked, “What were we sprinting for?” One of the riders replied, “The fire hydrant.” I should have known.
That was Tuesday morning and Wednesday night I went to Burger King and got a Whopper meal. Thursday morning I showed up at the pier and the guys were nice to me this time around, because now they knew I could ride. That morning I had a burger pit in my stomach, I was wishing I would just throw up my dinner from last night so I could ride. I don’t even think I made a pull that morning and I remember that suffering to this day.
Well I had purposely made my plane reservations out of LA for late Saturday so I could do the Saturday ride. It did not disappoint. I believe it’s called the Doughnut ride. Anyway I was careful what I ate the rest of the week because I wanted to redeem myself for my Thursday morning performance. The ride got started and the engines moved to the front so I went with them. Some pro rider had shown up and launched himself off the front, and I grabbed his wheel, just the two of us swapping pulls. At some point we hit a stop light red and he started doing a track stand. Dummy me, I decided I would too, even in my hypoxic state. Of course you can see where this is headed, I fell over and he rode off and left me. Because I had no idea where I was I had to wait for the chase group in order to find my way back to the car. My pride was hurt more than my skinned knee.
I also have a good story about my first Helotes ride in San Antonio. The Tuesday night Helotes ride is for the racers. It’s a crazy, all out hammer fest. I was told about this ride from the guys in one of the local shops, but they told me it was 50 miles. I decided it had my name on it, but when I showed up there was the Pacificare RAAM team. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. They leave right at 6:00pm on the clock and it was all out from the start. I remember doing 30mph and loosing ground on the guys in the front. I got to thinking 50 miles of this is crazy, I better find a pack. So I got into the second group which was a bunch of special forces pararescue guys I had gotten to know. When we got back to Helotes it was only 30 miles and I was pissed. The guys couldn’t understand why until I told them I thought the ride was 50 miles, not 30. They all laughed at me and one guy said, “First time huh. Did they tell you about it at the shop?” It seems the shop makes that ride sound harder than it is to deter people they are not sure should be there.