By the time we reached the Seabrook Bridge there were about 22 in attendance. Waiting atop
the Casino Bridge was the One With No Handlebars (OWNHB), on a road bike, with handlebars -- his notable equipment choice perhaps a small concession to the safety concerns of the group on his first appearance at a Sunday Giro since he hit the concrete on Bullard in late January.
The pace going east was a fairly consistent 24 - 25 mph controlled by the seven or so riders rotating at the front. Near Lincoln Beach an Orangeman went on a flyer but he was chased down and passed by Brett before Paris, while the rest of the pack was content to quicken the pace only so much as necessary to afford a good view of the contest just ahead.
A couple of times during the ride out on Chef Hwy. one Orangeman or the other attacked, but a concerted effort by those working at the front quickly contained all such attempts to get away.
The most remarkable thing about the outbound leg of the ride for me was just how spectacular the day was, how pedaling along apace with 20 or so silent riders is exhilarating, how tuning into the low dulcet whir of hundreds of spokes knifing through air intermittently joined by the sweet rapid-fire monotonal chatter of the freehub is magical, how connecting with, really being in the present during, such moments makes one feel truly alive -- an almost numinous experience. Then I stopped with a bunch of other guys and peed next to a tree (or in some cases a pole).
On the way in two or three riders (the OWNHB, Brian B. not MD, and someone else, I think) started off ahead of the bunch, but we remained steady for a short while. Then an Orangeman goes off the front and a couple of people try to bridge up -- Eddy D., Brady, and maybe another. I told Rich this didn't looked good, the group would likely chase these guys. "Yep," he said. There began a incremental, constant uptick in the group's pace, which was fine, until HL did one of his signature +3.5 mph 15-second surges. Before he lurched left off the front and faded to the rear, he split a small group of about four or five riders. The gapped rider was two ahead of Rich. Rich went around in pursuit of the little group, and for some unknown reason about which I remain terribly confused and conflicted, I went too. It took the better part of a quarter of a mile for us to make contact with the group we were chasing. Please construe the phrase "we were chasing" in the broadest, most generous fashion because in truth Rich was chasing and I was hanging on, my chest heaving convulsively looking for more O. When we did make a connection I'm thinking, good, now I can settle in and try to reestablish a survivable heart rate. But the little group Rich and I caught was in pursuit of the group in front of it, and the pace just increased further. So now I'm thinking, congratulations, you made it. Now what, idiot. So I made a deal with myself to hang on if I could until the beginning of the Chevron sprint, which I decided to define as the instant I could even smell Vietnamese food.
As I approached the Chevron station, two Orangemen were about a block ahead of me, and about another block up the road was Rich. The leaders were disappearing into the service road. Shortly after the two in orange, Rich and I got onto the service road, the main group came up. There was plenty of muscle in the group and we proceeded at a good pace, finally catching the lead group just east of the Casino Bridge.
We were presented with a little mystery on the way in. It was the conundrum of finding HL with the leaders when we caught them near the base of the Casino Bridge. HL had been in the main group that caught Rich, the two Orangemen and me just onto the service road. It would be pure conjecture for me to propose some explanation for how he ended up with the front group. Yet another of life's perplexing enigmas.
On the way in along Lakeshore, I noticed a startled look on Big Rich's normally phlegmatic countenance. He pointed to Vinny and said, "He doesn't match." Rich was then observed in congenial confabulation with Vinny regarding the accountant's wardrobe choice. Rich isn't one to conceal his strongly held opinions on color coordination. Apparently red and Bicycle World orange are a fashion no-no. Vinny offered a spirited defense premised, I think, on the notion that conformity isn't always best.
In some circumstances any attempted construct of the English language is inadequate. Overcoming the limitations of language is impossible in any attempt to accurately describe certain images, which reveal themselves as far more valuable than even a thousand words. Such is the case with the following disturbing image for which I will venture no guess as to what is happening. What is intended to be conveyed by the subjects? What is connoted by the gestures? What is implied by posture and proximity? What meaning does their contiguousness hold? I must confess; I am confounded 1.
1. Confounded is the 35th different word in this post beginning with con. I concede (36) this is probably excessive, but I am convinced (37) I can do better. I will confront (38) head on this troubling predilection and will continue (39) this practice no longer. In fact, I will contrive (40) to use no such words in my next post.
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