Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Dark, Damp and HL

Tuesday morning, for the first time ever, I drove to Jefferson Playground for the levee ride. My two experiences riding out on River Road to levee access near Causeway Blvd. in total darkness, once aggravated by fog, were exceedingly unpleasant. With Daylight Savings Time recently going into effect, 6:00 a.m. Tuesday didn't look any different than midnight, and I was happy with the decision to drive. On the way, I went through a very light shower which caused me to check the weather radar after I parked. There was a broad patch of light rain being shown offshore, south of Lafayette, moving at a good clip toward New Orleans but nothing in the immediate area.

View toward New Orleans at the Little Dip
 Once I got a picture of the dramatis personae at the start -- Woody, Robert, Daniel, Randy, Ray, Max, Big Rich, Big Scott, Vega, CA Rick, and HL -- I knew it wasn't going to be quite the ride I was hoping for when I loaded the bike into the car. I'm not claiming any form of unnatural prescience, I've just been there before -- mix HL's intractable compulsion to surge each and every time he's on the front on each and every ride in any and all conditions with cyclists who have the ability and willingness to play his game, e.g. Woody, Robert, Daniel, et al., and the result, for me at least, is an uncomfortable and usually unsustainable situation. This is especially so in pitch-black conditions, considering my documented history of being susceptible to the howling fantods anytime I'm required to ride blind at better than 28 mph through meandering dogs on long leashes and oncoming unlit, or overly lit, cyclists.

The rotation brought me to the front just west of the country club. I immediately pulled off and drifted to the back. I ended up in front of Vega and CA Rick. I learned later CA Rick was trailed off the back in the natural yo-yo caused by those on the front accelerating out of the small chicane at the new pump-to-the-river pipe crossing, east of Florida Street. Nearing Williams Blvd., I could see the intensity of shadows cast by Vega's super-bright headlight slowly fading to nothing. He was gone. Then Daniel, who was turning at the parish line, decided to show HL that he (Daniel) could take one last sustained, half-mile pull at HL's 20-second-surge speed. It was definitely time to stick the proverbial fork in me.

I slowed to recover until Vega came up and we rode together to the Little Dip. He continued west while I turned for home. As the accompanying images show it was still very dark. On the way in, the fog/mist turned to light rain, but I made it back to the car before it really started coming down.

I received a report later in the day that HL continued his antics, busting the group into pieces on the way in, even resorting to verbal attacks whenever anyone refused to play his see-if-you-can-take-this-surge game. Apparently, Ray, having had quite enough of the taunting, invited HL to join him on a little run.

Oh, how I'd love to see that!

View of Mississippi River batture at the Little Dip
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