“DON’T WORRY about it. I can be the controle goy.”
Hopefully I didn’t sound flippant. It actually tickled me to do. Because it wasn’t kosher, he couldn’t buy anything to get the receipt.
“IT’S NICE TO see you finish with some comfortable time.”
I finished in 10:39. This is only three minutes longer than the fastest 200K I’ve ever done, which was in Malibu and didn’t have headwinds, but did have a folding bike with concrete commuting tires and a wacky rear hub.
“What do you think made the difference?”
I said, “I’ve been doing a lot of commuting,” but on reflection, I think it’s more that this year, I know I can probably afford to take another shot if I DNF, so I can push harder and risk wearing myself out early.
“YOU DID THIS one your first year.”
That was the most shocking thing all day: Someone knew that? And:
“I saw a rider going past _______ Road and I thought, that looks like Keith.”
It was! But I realized it half a block later and turned around. I think I went off-course three or four times, but my total bonus miles were less than one.
People pay attention when you don’t know they’re doing it. Weird. I always think I’m fated to fly solo.
“NICHOLAS AND ZACHARY SAY MOOOOOOOO!”
The cows do not respond.
A 30° TEMPERATURE range: 49° in the morning, 79° in the afternoon. I own two pairs of bike shoes: Clipless winter boots and clipless sandals. No normal ones, just those.
I dithered for a week. Then I brought sandals and Sealskinz socks. They were perfect. And I remembered to spray my feet with sunblock in the parking lot where the Sealskinz finally got peeled off. They were the last winterizing layer to go. Jacket, skullcap, glove liners, neck gaiter—a spring brevet is a six-hour striptease and then sunburn.
I WASN’T lanterne rouge.
I wasn’t lanterne rouge.
Don’t get cocky, kid. Princeton’s coming up. You DNF’d at Schooley Mountain last time. It’s 300K of hills.
(Wasn’t lanterne rouge.)
I LIKE MY tires. Schwalbe Durano Plus don’t have quite the buttery road feel of Schwalbe’s pure racing tires, but they’re more puncture-resistant, and, say…85% butterfat.
I learned in 2012, on this very brevet, that when the voice asks politely if you think you ought to change your tires yet, “Nah, still some life in them” is the wrong answer. The voice is itself the answer. If it’s saying anything at all, they’re already time bombs.
SELF-RESPECT TIPS its hat. Nod back but don’t stop pedaling. You’re not done. Eat on the bike, drink on the bike, bask on the bike.
I SPENT CONSIDERABLE time on this brevet trying out different ways of saying, “Breezy!”
(There were 30mph headwinds all the way down the Jersey shore.)
The delivery that works best is the one that sounds like I’m very pleased. But nobody understood it. Doesn’t matter, that was the one.
MILE 105 OF 126, I’m sitting on grass, waiting for a bonk and caffeine headache to stabilize. I have three hours in the bank and a spring-lever tea ball in three inches of water in a bidon. I don’t actually call them bidons. I call them water bottles. I make a point of enjoying the scenery. I respect the moment and pay attention. I really see. Now I don’t remember anything. I think there was a fence.
Three hours in the bank minus ten minutes sitting on grass equals this was not my best 200K finishing time ever, but was instead 3 minutes over.
I bought a bike food cookbook after I got back.
“YOUR SHORTS ARE ripped all up the back,” said a guy in the paceline that came up behind me at a stop. His voice was raised. The headwinds were punching us all right in the kisser.
“They are? Here?”
“The funny thing is, I wore these because my other ones had a hole in them. THERE IS NO ESCAPING DESTINY!”
I got a laugh.
“Breezy!” didn’t play, though. Everyone is wrong about this. It is the proper delivery.
“THERE’S A 6:40 train.”
“You know how to get there?”
I put my helmet back on. “Let’s go.”
So we sprinted for the station. Well, I sprinted. From the outside, it probably looked like I was drafting.
“HAVE YOU recovered?” (Two days later.)
“Besides the achy quads and intermittently firing brain cells? TOTALLY.”
AND NUMB PINKY finger and toes, and bruised hands. I’m going to miss this bike for all the best reasons, but the new one’s going to fit.