Thursday, June 11, 2009

Back when I was called Fast..

The other day while climbing a small hill and hurting up a storm it got me to thinking,. about five years ago people would refer to me as fast. I personally never thought of myself as that fast but I was very consistent and that would help me climb the hill pretty well. As I climbed up the pseudo hill I thought, " damn I'm slow ". And I am now, that's hard to take when not so long ago I was at least "not slow". And this had me thinking back to when I got my first "fast" reference.

My friend Donald use to own and run a bike shop. He's a great guy and an awesome rider, be it mountain or road, he's a beast. So I stopped down his shop at lunch to bring my bike in and get the new cassette and chain I had ordered put on. While there Donald asked me if I wanted to go riding that night and it sounded good to me, when we rode I would push and it was nice to have a high paced ride. He'd have the bike ready to go by the time I got off work and we'd roll out. Cool.

Thankfully my house is only 8 miles from work and his shop at the time was only 1 mile the other way from work. So I ran home, got my gear and then headed back up to his shop. When I got there he was half dressed and was running around trying to finish up some shop business. While running around he tells me that he talked to some buddies and we were going to do a group ride down in Ellicott City. "Huh? I thought we were just going to cruise up to Falls from here and back", "Nah, this will be a much cooler ride!". Oh boy, that got me a little nervous as Donald is a strong rider and I'm wondering which of his friends we are going to ride with. I know some of them are super strong. "Don't worry man you can hang, it's all good. it'll be awesome!" awesome was Donald's word.

I load up our bikes on my car and Donald yells out "lube up the chain, I didn't have a chance to." well it's on the car so I said I would before we left on the ride. He finished up and left Pat in charge and off we went. We were late so I was rolling out. During our drive he tells me it's going to be 4 or 5 guys that he knows. One owns a shop down there where we'll be leaving from and the other guys are peeps he knows from races and rides. Oh boy, races? I'm now thinking that I'm in trouble. Two of the guys ride for teams that I've heard of so now I know I'm in trouble. We get to the shop and are a little late so we jump out and start to get ready. Three of the guys are pretty cool and we are talking a little bit which is only making me more nervous. They are talking about racing this and racing that. Bah .. I'm having a sinking feeling I'm going to be puling up rear guard.

The owner of the shop comes out and immediately I can tell this guy is an ass. He's probably in his forties a little overweight but is talking like he's got big game. Donald introduces me and trying to be cool I throw a little self deprecating humor out there "don't crush me out there guys" finished with a slight chuckle. The guy says "Don't worry we won't let you fall too far behind." I think I must have stopped dead, Donald must have seen this and said "Don't worry about Todd, he's a good rider." "We'll see" the owner's buddy chimes in (he will now be know as Cronie). Ok, now it's on. It might sound like they were joking but by the tone it didn't sound like joking. It sounded ignorant to me, firing me right on up. Right then and there I decided there was no way I was going to be dropped that day.

We finished gearing up and they decided where we were going (this is the first time I've ridden here so I'm lost). The loop we were going to hit was 50 to 60 miles and was going to be pretty hilly. The first part of the ride was just getting out of the main congested area. But once we got about ten miles into the ride it started to kick up and we hit the first big climb. Me and Donald were just chilling at the back of the line riding easy, so far the ride wasn't too taxing. The climb was kind of long but the pace was actually pretty low. I don't remember what me and Donald were talking about but we were joking a bit and had drifted about 20 feet off the other guys who were now spreading out a little bit. The guy turns around at says " Don't worry Todd the hill is almost over" laughing.. Yup, I hate this guy. But I was done with his crap so I yell up " I didn't even know we climbing we are going so slow " Donald laughs and leans over saying " Yeah he's kind of a dick, lets pass um ". Donald and I get out of the saddle and blast past them all. We were pretty close to the top and didn't take but a few more mins to get to the top and an intersection. There was a snowball stand on the corner and it was looking pretty damn good. They caught up and we headed off, crushing my dreams of a blood-orange snowball.

After that hill it quited down. The two "Cool" guys were now trying to push it. But the pace still wasn't too hard so I wasn't having any problems. But one of the others guys was having a hard time and actually called it quits about 30 miles into the ride. We said take care and rolled on. Around this time "cool " guy says to his buddy "think we should take Todd to seven hills?" "yeah we can do that" smiling. I lean over and ask Donald "what's seven hills?" " It's called seven hills to college, just seven biggish climbs up to the college. Lets hurt them!" As we get to seven hills one of the other guys says "that's enough for me, I'm just going to creep over these" and slowed up. Donald and the "cool" crew take off. Donald is a sprinter and that's how he climbs. He'll burst then slow down, burst and then slow down so I wasn't surprised to see him take off. I'm a consistent climber. I just find my gear and motor away, usually on longer climbs I'll start to feel better and I can push the pace up.

They smoke me on the first hill, I just settle into my rhythm. Down the first and start on the second, I'm starting to catch up. By the fourth I was right behind them and was picking up steam. Down and back on the fifth, about halfway up the fifth I pass Donald and Mr. Cool. Donald yells out "Get it man!" so to be a jerk I ask Mr. Cool (as he is now known) "Where do I go after I finish these?" Shooting him the biggest smile I have. Donald says "Just stay to the left and stop at the bottom of the decent". Cool, all I needed to know. I took off, passing Mr. Cool's cronie on the sixth hill. I was alone on the seventh and after cresting I turned left and bombed the decent. I was hitting it pretty hard at first but then slowed up. I had no idea where I was haha. So I let the Cronie catch me, I just hung a little behind him for the rest of the decent. We stopped at a little intersection and waited. He was out of breathe, I was not. At this point I was feeling pretty damn good.

Donald and Cool showed up shortly and we waited for the last guy. Donald was all smiles, as soon as we started off again he rode up and said "that was nice man. Lets finish them off". Cool, I was all for it. But at this time two things happened. 1) I was almost out of water 2) I didn't lube my chain. I've explained before what happens when I run out of water and I was getting nervous. Plus on the next climb my chain was starting to get a bit audible. Then my right leg started to cramp up. I was getting annoyed, I wanted to finish this ride up strong and send a message. I downed the last bit of water I had, shook my leg out on a decent and then nodded at Donald. He knew the final section of the ride and we started picking up the pace. First the tired guy dropped out the back. Then the cronie. Mr. Cool was trying to hold on with all he had but as the last climb got steeper he drift back farther. We cleared the top, tucked and hit the decent hard. The last section of the ride is a false flat that takes you back to Rt40 and his shop. We had lost sight of them and by now my leg was cramping bad. I told Donald and he gave me what water he had left, "Come on man, keep it up."

Finally we leveled out and came to the intersection of Rt40 where his shop is, I can see my car. We wait for the light then start to go, well, Donald does. My chain locks up. I limp to the side of the road and straighten it out, cross the road to my car. "Thankful the chain waited to the end to get crazy!" "I told you to lube it, haha, hurry up get the bikes up on the car and change. I want to rub this in." So we changed super quick, got the bikes up on the car and just as we sat on the bumper they rolled up. Donald stands up "Damn man, where you been?" Cool just glared. "Thought for sure you were going to catch up when Todd had to fix his chain. Told you he was a good rider." All I got was a "yeah". I talked to the tired guy for a few mins and said it was fun to them all. We hoped in the car and took off.

Donald was so stoked, "Man, you rode him off your wheel. That's Awesome! I know that's going to bug him." "well he was being an ass, no need to talk down to me and all." We stopped at a gas station to get some Gatorade as I needed some drink bad. As we walked him Donald says "You've really improved man, I'm impressed". It felt good, he's a strong rider and the fact that I had put those guys into the hurt locker was nice. I dropped him off and rode home feeling like I had just won something.

The next day I stopped down his shop and found Donald, Patrick and Mike in the shop BS'n. "And here he is, should have seen him last night. He rode (enter names here) off his wheel. Todd's fast!"

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