Jun 10, 2008

cast of characters

ok. so i'm on a club ride, my regular tuesday night gig. and once again, i learn the hard way that i have got to roll out of the parking lot with the front group (i.e. my team) or i am hosed. suffice it to say, i did not roll out with my people. and i found myself somewhere near the middle. but as we rolled through the park, i slowly made my way up towards my people. i was getting closer, and quite proud of myself for maneuvering through the mass of riders. but we arrive at an intersection and immediately, traffic splits the group in two. so i think maybe i'll catch my people at the next light. nope. maybe the next one. and now my mantra as i chase them is: 'i need a draft, i need a draft' - and i'm not talking about a beer, although i suppose that would have been nice too. i was dying to just catch someones draft and hope to get pulled up to my group. but there was no one ahead of me. so i look behind me and see that i am the draft. there is a huge long line of dudes behind me in my skinny little draft. well dammit. this wasn't how i wanted this to work.

now, here is where the cast of characters come in. and because i know that some of my faithful running reader friends are now trying out the bike thing & riding the occasional club ride, i'll give you a few tips if you haven't already figured it out the hard way: when you are on a club ride, you learn to look out for the people that you want to stay away from. the people who might make your nightmare of learning what road rash feels like come true. now, i am sure that when i started on the club rides, i was one of those people to stay away from. but i'd like to think i am not anymore.

anyhow, the people i tried to stay away from would include: hairyback racerback tanktop man, neon bike shifters on the down tube man, crazy spin man, random erratic braking in a pace line man, basketball shorts and sneakers with toe cage dude, mr. big ol' t-shirt flappin' in the breeze and ms. red shorts (nothing wrong with red shorts, she just tried to run me off the road cause she wasn't even aware that i was there - hello, you are on a club ride, there are other people all around you honey. and, disclaimer #2: nothing wrong with shifters on the down tube - i started on a bike like that. i have fond memories of having to think way the hell ahead of time before i made a shift. and nothing wrong with neon. it's good to be highly visible on the bike. i just didn't like being on his crazy ivan wheel. although i'll say this: neon bike man is strong). not that there is anything wrong with any of this - separately. but put it all together on a club ride and it makes up for one jacked up ride.

then there are the people you want to be with (that is, if you can't be with your teammates who smartly rolled out of the parking lot first). you seek out a rider with a smooth spin, someone who can ride in a straight line and someone not wearing basketball shorts. (i totally get that everyone has to start somewhere. i mean, maybe he hasn't made the commitment to cycling yet and bought the cycling shorts or the clipless pedals. i was in this place once. i totally get it. but good god. dude was just a danger to society - albeit a damn strong one. the dude could not be shaken).

now, the people i wanted to be with? i could have followed mr. big ass fans (it said that, right across his ass - 'big ass fans') anywhere; but then i'd be a cradle robber. and his ass wasn't big at all. it was just perfect. omg. i digress. where was i? oh yeah, and there was a totally cool bike racer chick who looked fit and strong. i wanted to be her friend and suck her wheel. but i think she could have kicked my ass standing still. and i never got her wheel, cause other people were hogging it. and then there's the ambassador of the club ride. his saddle bag might sound like he has an entire tool box in there, (i always imagine its probably like mary poppins' carpet bag - i'd bet anything he could pull an entire bike out of that saddle bag if you were in need of one) and his bike might make freaky squeaky noises; but he is the goodwill ambassador of the ride. every club ride needs an ambassador - he looks out for everyone and he'll bridge any gap. he'll even point out any jacked up riders you may have missed scouting out on your own and warn you to stay away. so there. three people i wanted to stick with and about twenty that i had to get away from.

back to my jacked up ride: as i said earlier, ms. red shorts almost ran me off the road. i had to pull out of the draft more times than i can count to save myself from ramming right into erratic braking in a pace line man. don't even get me started on basketball shorts and sneakers in toe cages dude. that guy was all over the friggin place. dude. do you not see we are in a line? i thought i'd be better off just pulling out of the line and falling to the very far back, or pulling out of line and hauling ass to get up front and then weasel my way back into the paceline further up. i pulled out and even though i was feeling good & strong, the line was long and i knew i didn't have the strength or power to make it up front alone and i couldn't find the ambassador to escort me up there. i was thrilled every time i did drop basketball shorts dude, and hairy back guy. and then completely dejected every time they were somehow back in my general vicinity again. then there was a point at which the paceline fell completely to shit and everyone was all over the place - moving in a weird chaotic mass.

i knew it wouldn't be much longer before i could drop all their crazy jacked up asses when we turned off river road onto a long, gradual climb. usually on this ride, people drop like flies upon turning here but i was surprised that once we turned, the group was still going at a good clip. it wasn't long though before i started to count them off one by one as i passed. i think it was about sixteen, and there were still 5 people in front of me, 5 people that i knew would be tough to catch: the ambassador, cool racer chick, mr. big ass fans, neon bike guy, and - to my very great dismay: basketball shorts dude. (i didn't think he would be tough to catch, but dammit he was). at the very tippy top i got cool racer chick, but mr. basketball shorts got away from me. i even held off from out of nowhere tri girl with her tricked out tri bike who tried to pass me on the hill. um, i'm sorry, but that aggression will not stand.

now here's the thing: while i was busy smugly judging my fellow riders, and joyfully picking them off one by one on the long hill; they all passed me - every damn last one of them on the very last tiny little hill: basketball shorts boy, neon bike guy, hairy back guy, and i think some others i hadn't even noticed. damn. that jacked up cast of characters was strong.

needless to say, i was a little bent out of shape upon returning home. but the redeeming spin of the night came when my husband and i came home from our respective rides and headed out on another one with our three kids, who now all can ride their two-wheelers. in addition to my growing list of rides - club ride, pancake ride, skirt ride - i can add playground ride; it'll be a regular gig now too.

we rode with the kids to a local playground where on the way, our youngest almost took us out more than once. that girl cannot hold her line. it's gotta be hard though, when your flip flop keeps falling off and your webkinz bounces out of your basket. she'd have fit right in on tonights' club ride. i actually would not have been surprised if someone was riding in flip flops and had a basketful of stuffed animals.


Anonymous said...

Damn, girl, you crack me up. Your race report is funny enough, but add the playground ride to that and you had a hilarious day. Thanks for making me smile.

Gotta Run..... said...

where we on the same ride?? Love the detail and SO know what you are talking about. Do you have crazy nuts who where headphones while riding? now that is stupid and i stay very clear of them.

Playground ride sounds perfect!!

Love your new blog title.

zanne said...

oh yeah - stay way the hell away from headphone wearing man. no good can come of that sort of blatant tuning out of others around you!

my husband always says: the front third of the pack is the safest. i can usually be in the front third, but i don't know where the hell i was on this ride!

Anonymous said...

You are such a colorful writer!

You've been tagged...check out my blog for details if you want to play!

Anonymous said...

OMG, that is so funny. Scary. But funny.

One of the groups I ride with has an ambassador, too, who made a point a couple of weeks ago of pointing out to me our own version of your basketball shorts dude. Swerving, riding out near the center line, not paying attention, speeding up/slowing down/speeding up/slowing down... basically our ambassador said, See that guy? Give him lots of clearance. And whatever you see him do, do the opposite.

Still, quite a minor episode compared with your ride. That's just insane!

Anonymous said...

Cyclist scare me. Really scare me...

I feel the same way about runners in basketball shorts.

ItchyBits said...

Club rides are always a treat. I love our guy who wears shear cycling shorts. When I get stuck behind him I cannot wait until it is my turn to draft so I can stop staring at bare hairy ass.

ItchyBits said...

I need coffee - I meant my turn to PULL

Anonymous said...

Back! I'm back online! WHOA! That was scary.

Anonymous said...

We're waiting for your Gorge race report! That is BOUND to be a good one!

Stuart said...

I am loving the catogorization of the rides, although I would hazard thethe most important one is the one that ends in a swingset!