Sunday, April 27, 2008
300K Brevet / April 26, 2008
The plan: ride the 400K in DC. Plans change. Plan B: the 300K in Raleigh.
Two hours of bike prep. Schmidt wheel? No. Battery light.
Saturday: 5:30 a.m. Panic. Change of plans. New tire on the Schmidt wheel. Pump it up, hold my breath while it holds air. Bad luck to change it out before a ride? Very superstitious, Stevie says. Pack the battery light. Pack too much. Ride it heavy. Test the legs and the resolve. Test fate.
A latte, peanut butter bread, no change in the pre-ride meal.
A pink half moon. 6:15. Meet and greet the usuals. Paul, Lin, Paul, Branson, Sridhar, Fearless Leader, Bob, Chuck, John, Jon, Byron, Dean. Road warriors with apprehensive war paint. Randonneurs. Gabba gabba we accept you, one of us. New faces: Victor, Dennis. Out-of-towners Ed of Daily Randonneur fame and tandem partner Mary, dressed in wool. And there’s flechmate Lynn and her husband Gordon. And Jeff.
Off at 7 into a forecast. Headwind on the way out, heat on the way home. No disappointments.
A slow roll up Jack Bennett until the tandems drop the hammer, a whip stinging the flanks. Off the front, a small team climbs through the hills, ignores the scenery, crosses Chicken Bridge. Car against car or overturned truck, competing stories.
The seatpost. The damned seatpost. 12 miles before I get a wrench on it, working for the clampdown.
At the control, Jerry with water and a pen, and I roll on alone. Ride my ride, chewing out a rhythm on my bubble gum. The tug of war: society and solitude. Some things never change. I make my bed, I lie in it. Stop three times to check the seatpost, once to piss.
Battle the ride demons and the wind, dodge caterpillars, wave at the lawnmowers, dodge grass clippings and holes. Wes reels me in, side by side for a few moments of chatting, and he’s off up the next hill.
The turnaround. Jerry and Wes there in their silk-upholstered chairs, talking to some rich folks that they know. Here we are in our ragged company.
Half a burger, greasy fries, three cokes and I’m off with Paul and Lin. Lin is our locomotive, our ride compass. The invisible hand of the wind is on our backs, the heat on our cheeks. Malcolm asks: Who done it -- who carried you?
The sweet pain comes now, the shortstop for our sandlot team. The left knee, the stomach, the left calf, strained eyes, the left hand, the palms. Scraping off the attitude. This road, this road, we’re ready to see the end of this road. Paul the statistician with the countdown. Lin the motor.
Climb out of the deep hole to Andrews Store for cool drinks and the peer pressure of Nutty Buddies. I put all my change in the penny cup. 1:15 left and a five-mile downhill roll to the lake. This is the Golden Age.
Dodge the holes on Lewter Shop, power up a ridge and a fast run to Al’s. Handshakes and Pepsi and pizza. A shower from two cans of hot seltzer, a change into street clothes. Al and I watch World War II weapons and Cars of the Future in high definition. Tomorrow we can drive around this town.
The porch light flips on and here is another group, and then another. Tired sweaty riders with war stories of heavy legs, heavy rain and swarms of bugs.
Dinner it is. Salsa Fresh? No. Closed. Change of plans. Smithfield Bar BQ for plates of hush puppies and jumbo shrimp and monster lemonades.
Give Branson a ride home, a proper shower, and in bed by 11 with Maxi.
Another fun day on the bikes.