Everything has to fall into place:
- The Wily Greek was off to do the Mt. Hamilton Liver Rip-Out road race.
- Destroyer had been off the bike for five weeks.
- Frenchy #1 was MIA after the Torrance Crit manglefest.
- Strava Jr. was taking time off after being run over.
- The previous week had been graduation, so everyone was partied out.
- I was fresh, having rested for three days.
- I’m down 14 pounds from December.
- I never took a pull.
When Frenchy #2 went, I followed but never came through.
When DudeChick went, I never even thought about coming through.
At the base of the Switchbacks Frenchy #2 blasted off.
Sausage, who had tried to prolong his time with the leaders by imitating my wheelsuckery, was immolated, instantly.
Each time I glued up to Frenchy #2’s wheel, he would rest, then attack again, harder. You can do that when you’re 22.
Halfway up the Switchbacks I looked back from my group of five and saw Sausage, a tiny speck of Speck, perfecting his power profile.
Frenchy #2 finally cracked after his seventh frenzied acceleration.
We were all gassed, and the goup slowed. Behind us the field was naught but splinters of shrapnel and spent shell casings.
Uglypedal towed me, DudeChick, and Destroyer up to the college.
Sausage got to within fifty yards, then stalled as if a giant artillery shell had flung itself down his throat.
For the first time all morning I punched it, gingerly, and shed Destroyer as Uglypedal raised the white flag.
I’ve never shed Destroyer before.
DudeChick came by. He weighs 120 lbs.
I compressed and hunkered onto his wheel.
I’ve never kept him company past the little wall leading up Crest, but I did today.
He unloaded the minenwerfers, the 5.9’s, the Maxims, the giant field guns, and finally the poison gas shells.
But I hung on because I knew that even though he is only 27 and I am 51, and neither one of us can sprunt, he can sprunt somewhat less than I can.
With 200m to go I took my second faceful of wind for the day and got to the top first.
On the descent I regained breath, vision, and the palpitations slowed.
In the parking lot at the college I waited for the inevitable adulation and recognition for this, the greatest ride of my life.
Sausage arrived much later, appearing from his distant time zone. “Dude,” he said. “Why were you guys going so slow?”
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