Rain Daze

They roll.  Geared up and feigning resilience.  Ten strong.  No one wants to be the guy who cracks.   Forty five degrees, windy and raining for starters; the radar says no relief.  A big sprawling nor’easter pattern.  The same type that delivered us TWO blizzards this winter (and don’t forget about the DEEP FREEZE that preceded it!)

Off the mountain, through the switchbacks, downward for maximum chill a damp twisting snake of riders, trying to get one in.  The season is here.  Races have already happened and others are filling up.  It’s bite the bullet time.  Group consolidation.  Got to get it on.  If you go I go.

Alongside streams that are well beyond crested; just another down pour from road wash outs.  They roll.  With fenders, double gloves and capes; fashion aesthetics are on hold as the elements have their way.

My former club (’97 through ’06) and the promoters of our jaunty little road race, the Lost River Classic, the NCVC Elite Team brought ten willing warriors (or fools depending on how you look at it – me, RTR ride guy included) to gain a foothold against what mother nature was serving up.

We set out aiming for four to five hours with a couple junction/bail out points if conditions turned really angry.  Fortunately no one faded and while the atmosphere didn’t exactly open its arms it also didn’t throw any sucker punches.  We knew what we were going into and we rode steadily towards, and ultimately through it.

With the variety of groups coming to the barn it always surprises me how well they ride; especially at the elite level.  New batches of guys coming up, some sustaining and some holding on and mentoring.  When running those double pace lines for long big ring stretches their determination is evident.

Obviously, and a quick glance at the results clearly notes this, there are differences, but they are in very small subtle ways.  Timing, experience, patience, composure, pain thresholds, pure desire, motivations and on and on.  Small footnotes that separate the elite athletes from each other in cycling or any sport, but at 25 miles an hour on a wet, into the wind pace line, with no cheering crowds, the similarities are greater then the differences.

One can observe deeper, step back and look at the formation and start to see indicators.  Team dynamics.  Rider’s familiarity.  Pedal smoothness.  It’s all there, in the graph but the increments are minor.  That those degrees are the measures between winning and losing is just the harsh reality, but bottom line, is all these guys (and gals) are throwing down.

When the kits were rung out we had 68 miles; 4 hours 20 minutes.  Only one tiny stop at 7-11 so I could purchase some $4.99 gardening gloves (Pugs) to replace my completely useless after twenty minutes $60 cycling gloves (if any one wants to do R&D to develop some actual water proof riding gloves I am happy to be a test dummy having spent most of the last 19 years on a bike – courier/touring cyclist/racer – feel free to contact).

All in all a solid ride.   A steady pace.  A team building session.  One where, at least for me, the idea of finishing was a major thrust.  I’d say the scenery this time was a strand pulling me toward the end rather then a back drop absorbing me on the whole.  Put it in the books and wait for the returns.


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