are sometimes smooth and silky, and other times tired and tight.

Monday, July 9, 2007

DIY on the Fly

After the highs of the Dolomites, I felt as flat as the landscape around me. My motivation nearly gone, and with legs still heavy from the previous week, I rode off to race, more out of habit than desire. A typical Dutch summer, that’s what the Sprinter calls it. None of this Global Warming stuff to be had here. Just a week of wind, rain and temperatures more suited to late October than early July.

Sitting in the clubhouse, pinning on my number, sipping some coffee, I watch the opposition come in, one by one, and wonder what the day's race will be like. For the first time in a long while, I secretly hope that it will be an easyt start. I even make the decision not to attack on the line. Strange. Against my normal instincts, but then again my legs feel far from normal today.

As I’m wont to do, I place myself on the start line. The Sprinter rides up next to me, the wind whipping the hair, that's poking out of his helmet, into wings. He asks how it went last weekend. I tell him the tale, and how I plan on taking it easy today. As I tell him this, I actually believe it. I see a friend, a Duathlete, who’s rushing to get his number on. Knowing him, he’s just run a few laps before the race. I tell him to take it easy.

The signal is given, and for once I am not the first to attack. Someone else does. Soloflyer, with van Poppel right on his wheel. Take it easy I say to myself, as I sprint to try and grab van Poppel’s wheel, which I just manage to do. There’s someone behind me, although I don’t look to see who it is, or if there’s a gap. We’ll be reeled in. After all, it’s July and everyone is fit by now. It’s only a matter of time.

With almost the first lap completed van Poppel is still sitting on Soloflyer’s wheel, not making any effort to take over. Soloflyer doesn’t seem to mind. I look at my computer, and see that we’re going faster and faster. Meanwhile I’m in pain, doing what I have to do to hold on to the wheel in front on mine. Eventually I look and notice that it’s the Sprinter behind me. Interesting. Then I notice that the peloton seems to be sleeping, because we have a reasonable gap. Even more interesting. We start taking our turns riding into the wind.

A lap passes and we have company. I roll to the back of the group to see how many have joined us. Seven. We’re eleven. Apart from one or two, they’re all strong. My friend, the duathlete has even managed to make it. He shouts “Come on guys” in English, even though I’m the only non Dutch rider there. We work.

Time flies, and we’re puling away from the field. I can’t see them when I check on our progress. Then I hear something. A tick. My computer sensor is knocking against my spokes. Nothing that bad, but enough that it starts to irk me. Easy, I tell myself.

Another lap passes, and as I get out of the saddle I hear the tick again. Conventional wisdom dictates to leave it alone. It’s a nuisance, nothing more. I ignore it, and reach down and give it a little tap. Tick, tick, tick!!! Not the smartest thing to do, I realize. We maintain our gap on the field, and – don’t ask me why - I reach down again, and try and adjust the sensor. This time it works, the sound is gone. Unfortunately so is the signal to my computer. No problem. I don’t need it. Easy.

We continue to pull away from the field, and for some reason I grow restless. I realize that I’ve become a little addicted to keeping an eye on my cadence. As long as I can hold 100 to 110 revolutions per minute I’m happy. I roll to the back, and once again, I break from convention, and reach down to tweak my sensor. Tick, tick, tic, TAK! It went into the spokes, and snaps off. OK, doesn’t matter. I’ll get another one, back to racing. Which is what I do.

More laps pass, and I hear a tick again. Strange. I look down, and see the culprit. My sensor wasn’t broken, it had come loose, and was now swirling around the bottom of my fork. Not good. Not good at all. The kind of thing that could cause a crash. I roll to the back, once again.

The smart move would have been to pull over, fix it, and jump back on at the next lap. There's a reason to have them, after all putting your fingers in the vicinity of spokes on a wheel that's spinning in the range of 40+ kph is far from wise. Unfortunately I was unaware that that was an option, so I do exactly what I shouldn’t do: I reach down to my hub, and easy, oh so easy, pull the sensor back up the fork, until it won’t move, or cause any problems. Somehow I manage to do this. Even more surprising is that I'm limber eough to bend down and do this.

I look up, and the break is riding away. I sprint back to them and van Poppel sees me out of the corner of his eye, and says “Keurig”.

I wink, behind my sunglasses, and say “Easy”.


Anonymous said...

I laughed. I cried. I held my breath.


Arron said...

wait, how was the finish? i must know. later.

Anonymous said...

Addiction to staring at the cyclometer is cured by use of blue painter's tape to cover up the infernal info device.

No crashing = Goodness

Gregory Garrison said...

I'm relived that the title of this piece was not appended with "And how I learned to type with one hand".