It’s not a race.
But then, it always turns out to be one. At least initially. But really, it’s not a race.
I am speaking of course about the Friday morning Alpine Loop* road rides that are becoming a well ingrained tradition this summer. Last week the pace was supposed to be mellow, it was after all, Fatty’s birthday ride. But as we entered into the sweeping switchbacks of American Fork Canyon I just could not help myself, and off I went.
* I always carry my camera on the Loop, and yet I almost never take any photos. That is, of course, because in order to so I’d either have to stop or slow down. And doing so would mean those behind me would catch up, and those with or in front of me would disappear. And so, the camera stays put because the ride is just to intense to bother with photos. But, really, it’s not a race!
Eventually I found myself with Rick and Brad. We were nearing the summit of the loop and foolishly I decided I to attack the unsuspecting, obviously worn out and suffering duo. And so, while exclaiming “why the hell not!” I attacked ferociously. A relentless, barbaric, explosive outburst of power and speed and grace. A surprise attack that would have made any moment in any Grand Tour look pale in comparison. I was beyond certain that Brad and Rick were left behind in a dizzying display of bewilderment and awe. I turned my head, only slightly, to witness for myself the damage I had caused.
They were both an inch off my wheel.
I held on as long as I could before blowing up spectacularly. I had flashbacks to Sundance, when on yet another paved road (with brad on my wheel) I started throwing up violently. This time I held it in – but just barely. As Brad rode by me he said, “dude you wanna attack on the next corner”. And with that, he and Rick vanished up the road, leaving me gasping for air and seeing double.
I quickly and vividly learned just “why the hell not“.
And yet, I loved the effort and the attempt. A year ago I did not have either the mental or the physical strength to even pretend to attack riders like Rick and Brad. Or anyone else for that matter. Just being up the hill with them was something I was reveling in. It was an exciting thing to have the bike respond to the urging on of the legs, and even more so that the legs responded to the mind. The human body is an amazing machine, able to to become more efficient, more fit, more enjoyable to use. I admit that last summer I wondered if I’d ever be able to ride aggressively again. I wondered even If I’d ever even want to. The answer of course is evident by the summer that I am having thus far.
While my eyes were still bleeding, and my legs still throbbing at the summit of the Loop, Rick casually said, without any sense of how I was feeling, or the effort It took for me to “attack” the way I did, “I liked the pace today, nice and mellow.”
But then…it’s not a race.