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

Monday, February 23, 2009

Opening Day

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Much to my surprise the sun is out, and it’s a reasonably warm day for late February. In fact, it's so good that I decide to wash off the grit and grime that’s accumulated on my bike these past few months. After all today is race day. My first of the year. I'm a little nervous, mostly because work, travel, bad weather, overindulgence, and my own indifference have left their mark. It has been a long four and a half months since the last time I pinned on a number.

On my way to the race, I see throngs of people wandering along the bike path, making their way to the local exhibition hall. Most of them are young women, and I find myself wondering what the event is. I pass a sign with the text “Nine Month Fair,” with a silhouette of a pregnant woman. Ah hah. I think of the extra weight I’ve picked up, and wonder if it’s an omen.

While it’s been months since I found myself riding this particular route, it comes back to me automatically. I could almost do it with my eyes closed. Almost. There’s been some road works since, and I have to take a few detours. This makes me edgy. I’ve become so superstitious about the rituals of my pre race ride: riding on the road, as opposed to the bike path by the Olympic Stadium; not having to wait for the drawbridge by the lock; and stopping to relieve myself by the highway. I realize that this is borderline neurotic. Regardless, I indulge the behavior. It keeps me calm, and today, that’s what I want to be.

I arrive at the clubhouse, and see one of the local baby faced assassins. He's sitting at a table, and on the other side is the Flying Doctor. Last year I found myself in several break aways with both of them. There’s no danger of that happening today, not with my form, or lack there of.

I go to get my number. There have been a few changes since last year, the biggest one being the introduction of a timing chip. Forms need to be filled, signatures signed, etc, etc, etc. This is all in Dutch, and I’ve let my Dutch slip, which slows everything down. Things aren’t helped all that much by the fact that I can hardly understand a thing that the gentleman behind the desk is saying, nor he me. By the time I’m done, the line behind starts to snake out of the door. Good thing I got here early.

I look around to see if a friend, whom I know was coming, is there. Nope. Not such a big surprise, seeing as he’s constantly late, usually the last to line up before the start. I sit myself down at my favorite table, and pin on my number. I look around and see more familiar faces, as I nurse a cup of coffee. It’s busy, but not as bad as I expected. Probably for the best, what with the timer chip slowdown. The room suddenly fills up, racers who've just finished the earlier event. I spot van der Moser amongst them, and wonder how he did.

There’s not much time left, and I'm getting cold, so I ride a short lap to warm up. It’s not really necessary, but it gives me the chance to ride off whatever remaining nerves I have. The roads are damp, but apart from a few puddles, it looks OK. I won’t get too filthy, which is a bonus. I make my way around, spinning lightly. I stop around the 200 meters to go mark, to finish off the last of my pre race rituals, before rolling up to the line.

It's five minutes past the hour, and things are running late. Must be the chips. From the start house we're welcomed back, and given a brief explanation about the benefits of the new technology. The volume of the PA waxes and wanes, making it as incomprehensible as my Dutch was 30 minutes earlier, when I was signing in. Across a field of lycra, over a fence, I see my friend coming out of the clubhouse, putting on his helmet, and swinging a leg over his bike.

Late as always.

And we’re off…


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5 comments:

R Smith said...

Hey botto,
Good luck this season. I often enjoy your updates and have loved some of the tips you have here in your blog. But where did the "why do Canadians Suck" post go? as I am one, I was wondering how I can avoid that. ;)

-- Quijibo187

Psimet said...

Nice...good luck with the season. Now...did I see someone eating shoulder chips in that picture?

bikerider061964 said...

So how did the race go? Or should I not ask. More importantly, did it help you get your motivation back?
You've been at this a long time, it's understandable how indifference can settle in - sometimes a little time off the bike, or away from racing does more good than bad.
Looking forward to more race reports throughout the year.
And hopefully you'll be able to get out and do another Gran Fondo this year - the photos from last years ride were spectacular.

Shaver said...

the race went fine, and yes, the mojo is back.

Kathryn Law said...

Great post, awaiting the race report. Sandbaggers and all...