I attacked and got away with five laps to go. Woof-Woof came with me. I had been going pretty hard throughout the race trying to cause a split, and he started taking some really solid pulls, which hurt bad. I would come through on the downhill/crosswind section, which was tough but not as tough as the turns and the uphill section, which he was taking full throttle, intent on sticking it out to the end.
Woof-Woof started yelling at me to “work” and “not be a pussy,” thereby violating the first law of sales and bike racing: If you’re explaining, you’re losing.
I started laughing as he got angrier and angrier. His best line was “If you want to ride with the big dogs you better work, goddamn it!”
“Arf, arf!” I said.
“He is one of the funniest people alive,” I laughed to myself, so much comedy wrapped up in so much seriousness over a bicycle race being fought between grandpas.
Then when Woof-Woof’s brother, THOG, and Genghis bridged to us with my teammate tucked in neatly behind, Woof-Woof began screaming and banging his handlebars in fury and frustration. His likely first and guaranteed second had just fizzled to fifth, at best.
I began laughing so hard at Woof-Woof’s curses that THOG mistakenly thought I still had more gas in the tank. This was a fatal error because I fizzled badly in the finish, and THOG had to come around a slowly imploding Big Blue Bus rather than a clean, fast lead-out.
In the end, Woof-Woof’s brother beat him (again) and Woof-Woof barely nudged by me for fifth. Afterwards he was still so angry that he came up to me and said contemptuously, “After all that work I did you were still gonna try to beat me in the sprint, huh?” Implication: Does the mouse challenge the tiger?
I smiled and congratulated him. “Good racing,” I said. “What a schmo! And such a serious schmo!” I thought.
Of course he’d been Invisible Violet until the moment of the breakaway, and I had fired several shells too many. As we cooled down THOG humiliated him in front of everyone. “Wanky’s a classy rider,” he said, looking at Woof-Woof. “Always takes his pulls.”
Compliments like that are a rare thing from the guy with the rainbow stripes on his sleeve, compliments to be treasured, even when — or especially when — you’re last in the break.
Best day of racing, maybe ever.
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