|Warm-up of Sunday Giro|
After a brief hiatus from Giro participation, which he attributed to illness and a weak resolve, Ray C. returned sporting Red-Sox-like facial hair and whining about the probability of his getting dropped as a result of his layoff. But every time I noticed Ray during the ride he was at or near the front or moving forward seemingly to consider giving one of the sprints a go.
The ride east to Paris Road and then down to Chef Hwy. was indeed fast-paced, but I managed my position within the group well enough at the turns to stay comfortably with the bunch. I became a little unnerved by a development which began on the service road: Each time I free-wheeled I could feel vibration in my feet and my bike made a noise like a failed attempt at shifting an 18-wheeler from first straight into sixth gear without using the clutch. Rich said my free hub needed servicing. The Bashful Artist said I needed a new bike 2.
Shortly after we get going on Chef, I'm staring down between my legs and spinning in reverse and reproducing this horrid grinding noise which has replaced the sweet staccato riff of my free-wheeling hub, when I look up and see Vega wildly swinging his arm, like a side-arm pitch, back to front, pointing first at me and then at the tail end of the group, which is now twenty feet up the highway and slowly pulling away.
So I go around Vega and get on the back of the bunch by the skin of my teeth. Then, of course, it is a matter of staying and convincing myself that things will slow down if I only hang for 30 seconds. So I hang for 30 seconds and then a minute and then two minutes, and it doesn't slow, and I'm toast. I rode alone out to about Highway 11 when a little grupetto of five riders caught me and we continued on until we saw the group returning, near Venetian Isles.
I turned and soft-pedaled, waiting for the approaching group. Suddenly, I heard a commotion behind me and then HL complaining that I bash him in this blog and then, as if that wasn't enough, tried to run him off the road. I was unaware of what had occurred, but accounts of the incident gleaned from others thereafter seemed to indicate HL was trying to pass me on the right as the group was overtaking me on the left. Even after my cursory investigation, I have been unable to discover why HL felt it necessary to ride on my right, between the solid white line and the rumble strip. Thankfully, his prodigious bike-handling skills allowed him to overcome the hazards of the rumble strip and safely regain the road. In my never-ending pursuit of improving my riding, I googled the phrase "dangers of passing cyclist on right," and while I haven't had time to peruse the links returned, I did note there were more than 11,000,0003 hits which the powerful search engine found relevant to the inquiry.
During the ride in on Chef, I found myself on the wheel of a rider unknown to me in Peake shorts who had been shepherded around all morning by Eddy D. He (the unknown rider not Eddy) seemed somewhat unfamiliar with riding in groups and it slowly became apparent he subscribed to the Clayton C. style of riding, trying always to stay no less than ½ and no more than 1½ inches from the wheel in front. When this problematic proclivity revealed itself to me, good sense would have dictated that I move up in the group immediately, but good sense is something I have on more than a few occasions been accused of wholly lacking. Another unusual aspect of the rider's style, which I don't know if Clayton C. inspired in any manner, was his way of correcting an approach closer than ½ inch from the wheel in front by grabbing two handfuls of brakes and squeezing for all he's worth, a move which nearly sent me and Vega, who was on my wheel, to the pavement. Having survived the incident upright, Vega and I both moved forward in the group.
While it had been a pretty eventful morning to this point, the indubitable highlight of the day wasn't to occur until ride's end, at the bottom of the Seabrook Bridge. As usual it was fast between the bridges, and as we approached the Seabrook, Brett was on the front. Being just a couple of riders behind, I had a good seat for what followed. VJ comes up the left side of the line with the One With No Handlebars (OWNHB)4 close on his wheel. When VJ clears Brett's wheel he pulls in front of the line. Then the OWNHB immediately pulls over behind VJ, before clearing Brett's wheel, almost running into him and causing him to slow. Brett screams something at the OWNHB and takes off after him. Well, I've been around long enough, and know enough about the personalities involved, to be convinced that, at the very least, invectives were going to fly and maybe even fisticuffs would ensue. So I killed myself to stay close. Between fumbling to get my camera out and the wind noise, I couldn't catch much of the exchange beyond the OWNHB threatening Brett with bodily harm if Brett insisted on cursing at him, and then an ineffectual and rather effete backhanded swipe at Brett which missed by a mile. The OWNHB, with venom in his tone, then said, "There is only one champion out here, and it's not you5." He rode ahead of the group to his big white van, parked near the east side of the Paris Avenue circle, and as we passed he was standing astride his top tube with arms outstretched, deeply bowing, his rear wheel repeatedly lifting high into the air like the ass-end of a feeding dabbling duck.
|A gesticulation of emphasis, not the attempted poke.|
1. It is widely known that Big Rich gets a little anxious without ready access to satellite time.
2. The Bashful Artist (aka Racer X) went so far as to ask who he needed to talk to in order for me to get a new bike, and I referred him to my spouse. He then said he would forthwith seek whatever number of signatures were necessary to petition successfully for my obtaining a new bike. While I appreciate the willingness of the Bashful Artist to undertake the arduous task of securing such a petition, I believe he would have a better chance of success by organizing, promoting, and holding a Help David Get A New Bike Fundraiser at the McMurdo Research Station on Antarctica.
5. The OWNHB could not have known when he made this statement that I won the gold medal in the seventh grade speech contest at CBS in 1964. So, indeed, OWNHB, there were more than one champion on Lakeshore Drive yesterday.
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