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

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The end of the beginning

photo courtesy of dolly van der laan

Cold. Windy. Dry. One out of three. Good enough. Today is the day. The beginning of the beginning at Sloten.

It’s February. No pressure. No Worries. Just some training. With a number pinned on. That’s the plan.

Granted, I’ve opted to break out the good bike for today. My winter bike is showing its age. All 18+ years. Not that I plan on trying anything special today. I couldn’t, even if I wanted to. Nope. This is training. Nothing more.

I meet the KMII and the WK a few hours before. We saunter along at a leisurely pace. Circling the loop of the Ronde Hoep. Eventually we arrive, as scheduled, at the clubhouse.

Numbers are collected. Friendships reacquainted. Weights and training hours are compared. It’s all good.

I see the Berlin Wall, a teammate and training partner. He missed out on our pre-race warm up. Too busy doing domestic duties for his Mrs. We go out for a few warm up laps. Two weeks ago the course was covered in twigs and dirt. Today it’s perfect. Keurig.

I pull up to the line. Waiting there for the rest to arrive. One by one the familiar faces pull alongside. The WK, Berlin Wall, van der Terminator, Thomas the Taxi … Finally Andre arrives. We wait a bit longer, and the Flying Doctor appears. He’s wearing a pair of leg warmers that makes me think of the Irish diaspora in Barabdos.

Finally, Andre makes an announcement. We’re sent on our way. At least I think we are.

I make my trademark move. For the show, and only for the show. I look back and see that nobody cares. I’m alone, apart from another rider. I’ve done a few training runs with him over the winter. He’s strong. Much stronger than I’ll ever be. He pulls through and I follow, sitting on his wheel.

He sets the pace. I follow, until +/-500 meters before the strip. I take over. As we approach the line, I see Andre, waiting on the line. That wasn’t the start. Dummy. Me.

Stop. Pause. Repeat.

I do it again. I jump off the line. Once again I’m not alone. I don’t know the rider, but I know the team. It’s a good one. It doesn’t take long to realize my mistake. When he pulls through, I suffer.

Fortunately we don’t stay away for long. The peloton reels us in. What follows is the usual series of attacks, and counters.

I ride past the FD. He says something, but I can’t quite hear him. I catch his gist: nothing is sticking.

The BW rides past, and I nod at him – go. There’s a teammate up ahead. They should go for it. I ease up, as he jumps. It’s suicide, but suicide is painless. Or so the song goes.

Their venture doesn’t last long. About a lap. They’re pulled back. The riders doing the job are from a variety of local clubs. The thing that I notice is that many have the same leg warmers. Team Amsterdam. The men (boys) to watch.

What follows is gripping stuff. If only I could remember it. Thing is I dig so deep to get to them that I’m not registering, I’m only reacting. The FD is there, beckoning me on. So is the van der Terminator.

The group is working together. Or so I think. I look behind, and see that we don’t have a clear gap. I ease. I’m not the only one. I look up the road, and see that the TA boys haven’t given up. They have a gap.

I think about jumping, but wait. Someone jumps, towing vd Terminator along. I latch on to his wheel. The next 2 km last forever. I dig deep. Deep into the proverbial pain cave.

The TA boys are just ahead of us. We’re clawing them back. I’m in the red. Deep. As deep as a trapped Chilean miner. Deeper.

Just when I think I’m lost, vd Terminator comes past and dials it up a notch, or two. Probably three. I’m glued to his wheel. I want to pull through, but I can’t. Finally he eases. As he does, someone swings past us.

I jump and grab his wheel. To my surprise vd Terminator is gone. He must have gone too deep.

The TA Boys are ahead us. Just. We’re getting closer. Closer. Closer. We’ve made it. The gap is closed.

Someone from the break rolls back, and tells us to work. I shout, a plaintiff, phlegmy, foamy shout, that we’ve just closed the gap. Chances are there was some colorful language thrown in.

I skip a pull, or three, and catch my breath.

The end of the beginning of the beginning has begun.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice, very nice.

Haven't been here in awhile. Looks like I've got alot of catching up to do.