Crepuscule looming, we left 15 minutes early on another beautiful day. Ten riders met at the flagpole, including alum David Pearson (fresh from the Dallas Toyota Triathlon, where former SMU swimmer and Olympian Laura Bennett finished 4th and Mina Pizzini, from Cox, finished first in her division. David finished 20th of 48th in his division. Chapeau to all)
Greg, Michael, Clyde, from the F/S, Kevin and David from the alumni, Caryn representing SMU families and Jeff, Sam, and Noah representing our students, all fall into a brisk pace to the lake. Samuel and Jeff (linked together in today's DC) have never been able to ride together until today. Samuel's coach told him to get some miles in, and Jeff was getting some late season confidence building by planning on thrashing everyone else.
Sam was dissing my helmet, "Did you get that from a Star Wars set?" An LAS Bionix, recently seen (2006) on Liquigas riders Di Luca and Garzelli, it wasn't a big hit in the peloton but I'm all for my unique fashion statements. Caryn thinks I should put an Alien jaw protruding from the front, but if I get any more grief, I breaking out the 1986 Bell Stratos, very RoboCop!
We top TP Hill and do not see Tony, so Jeff moves to the front and takes off. I chase (foolish and instinctual.) We were held up by a car, Caryn bridges up to us and I get to the front at our sprint point just long enough to see Jeff casually pass me and I did what I could to stay within 2-3 meters. Caryn finished 3rd.
As we regroup, we are missing Samuel, so a loop back finds him talking to a couple of Mirage riders, one of them is our own Kelly Devlin. She rode a lot with us last year but one of the Mirage coaches developed a training program for women that Kelly was the recipient of, so she now rides with the evil empires's storm troopers. We miss her on our rides, a very strong rider and we are grateful she did ride with us because she is such integral part of SMU cycling coming to fruition.
The ride up Flagpole exposed my, I thought former, confusion with left and right. Mike says right, I go left. Note to all, when Mike rides, he is the ride captain. He keeps his sanity, does not succumb to testosterone rages and calls out every single bit of road debris and traffic furniture. My problem is that I see a pretty wheel pass me by and I chase it! Ruff ruff!
Speaking of testosterone (or whatever amygdala circuitry occurs in our brain) Samuel decides to taunt Jeff with a feigned attack down the rolling hill and we take the bait, car in the way be damned. We need to have a talk about that! Sam needs no palmares to add to the resume, and Jeff can't resist beating me. Caryn was 3rd.
As they speed past the group, Michael and Caryn sniff the air to sense all of that animal energy unleashed. Michael says, "I'm going to need to get a hormone patch" Caryn, the only woman on the ride, is dismissive of this male notion of "gotta.... be.... in.... front.... despite..... no.... reason... to... be!" She is also the recipient of male angst when she effortlessly passes weekend warriors on Loving.
Jeff and Samuel decide to talk some, missing the turnoff on Ferndale, fortuitous because it allows the group to make the catch. The sensible seven (Caryn, Clyde, David, Greg, Kevin, Michael and Noah) are riding a nice tempo 'till we return to the lake. We all agreed to make the "Erykah" turn near the Bathhouse but Michael makes the executive decision to head straight since we would have had to stop to let the tri-group pass (and riding next to tri newbies always elicits squeaks of fear if you ride closer than a meter to them.) Davis said, "that's my triathlete training partners" Triathletes must be more organized than roadies, we are always looking for a moment to blow the whole thing up.
Kevin's classic move is neutralized as Jeff pulls away from the group with Sam in tow (me too.) He does a real strong attack, we get a gap, Jeff powers on for 2K and then flicks his elbow in that classic "your turn" motion and Samuel just laughs at him. I found it funny as well, because I really liked it back in 3rd position, doing no work whatsoever. Jeff then realizes that Sam is not as gullible as I am. SMU Cycling is all about the learning curve.
Here is what I remember about the young Lance, circa 1987, so strong that he would get in trouble because he worked way too hard at the wrong time. Granted, his efforts usually had me shelled out the back long before I could judge his tactics personally. As I push 50, I have a greater respect for Peter Green, whose picture is on the back wall at RBM, Campbell Road. He was the revelation on the rides we did. Tactically brilliant, and very willing to teach young riders the nuances of cycling learned from a career as a champion of the British Isles. Thirty years older than most of the fodder on the ride, and always finishing at or near the front. If only I had the ability to do the same to our young recruits.
Back to the ride, Sam and I just let Jeff slowly wither on the head of the arrow. Now Samuel's not going to do any work because it is his easy day, and I'm not going to work because I need some matches for Loving (that sounds strange in a eHarmony sort of way.)
Even though I told Caryn we would regroup at the spillway, I didn't have the snaffle-bit in tight enough on the ponies, so we had no slow-down at Winsted. We missed a turn again though, allowing the group to catch. They were all making turn signals pointing left and this tri girl locks her brakes, saying "you didn't call it out!" Don't people know that that is a common point of divergence?"
I attacked it as hard as I could (I had some matches left) and Jeff marks me rather easily, then I stick to his wheel. Unfortunately, it turns out my matches were wet, as I lead him through the second of the three hills, he sees Noah (he is on a two hill schedule) and says, "a rabbit." Little does he know that is what Kevin calls Jeff.
Jeff attacks the 3rd hill, but Noah drops his chain and Jeff passes, then cruises up with me sputtering and bouncing my rear wheel in pursuit. Another 2-3 meter failure for me. He can talk at the top, I have a heart rate that needs to be calmed, and Michael tells us, "first three do it again" No, No and No, unanimous decision. Caryn was 3rd (again.)
Caryn was paced up by this RBM guy who rode the three hills no handed! He said it was training for Italy. I could not do that, especially at that speed. The Mirage/Matrix/RBM guys, despite how cutthroat some rides are, some are really talented cyclists.
Samuel was chillin' at the water fountain, we picked him up and David, Caryn and myself were duly dropped by the group, so all discussions and city limit sign sprints were not recorded (If a sprint was won in the forest, did it make a sound?)
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